As a senior in college who is writing a thesis, taking five classes, working an internship, participating in a team sport, and dedicating around 15 hours a week to my school newspaper, I don’t have time to do much besides study and sleep (when I can).
Earlier this semester, I found myself getting frustrated with all the chaos happening in my life, when I had midterms atop newspaper duties and thesis drafts, and I had nowhere to go where I could quiet my mind. Then, I realized that the Catholic church nearest to me had a 7:30 a.m. Mass, one that I could actually attend with my busy schedule.
I’m no stranger to daily Mass. I grew up going to Mass every day in grade school, and I went to a noontime daily Mass during my first three years of college. I distinctly remember going right before tests or presentations, and it calmed me down, reminding me that there is something bigger out there than just my upcoming exam. Still, getting up early just to go to Mass was relatively new for me.
I freely admit that I am not a morning person, but once I’m up I find I work better in the mornings, so going to a 7:30 a.m. service lets me begin my day a few hours earlier. In seasons of busyness, the short half hour that I spend in church just a few times a week has made such a difference, giving me a space of solitude and more time in the day.
Going to daily Mass gives me a set time to slow down during the day.
Even though I might be rushing to get there on time, once I sit down in my pew, I can finally take a deep breath, focusing on the readings and on the responses that I know so well.
I’m the type of person who makes lists of all the things I need to do, and I often stress over which thing I should do first while I’m walking to class or sitting on the subway. When I’m in church, I try to push that out of my mind to center my thoughts solely on what is most important, like the Eucharist which I am about to receive.
Getting up to go to Mass gives me a few extra hours to get things done.
I compare getting myself up for Mass to getting up and feeding a dog: It’s a vital routine, but not always fun, especially for a night owl. But instead of feeding a dog, I’m feeding my soul.
Once I get home from Mass, I have more time — I’m not rushing to get to work or class, so I can drink my coffee leisurely, make breakfast, and get a head start on the day’s work.
Spending time contemplating the readings and hearing the priest’s homily helps me understand my faith.
During Advent, I can experience the anticipation of Mary throughout the weeks, getting a more fruitful experience of the season. The Advent readings are my favorite out of the entire liturgical year, and meditating upon them during the day brings me in touch with this time of waiting and anticipation.
My favorite Psalm, Psalm 1, is often read on Thursdays throughout Ordinary Time. Since I don’t usually peruse the readings beforehand, I am often surprised when the reader begins with “Blessed the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…” That always seems to happen on days when I was not feeling up to going to Mass, but I always take it as a sign from God that he is glad I am there with him!
I’m not perfect; I don’t always follow my own advice: I’ve overslept for Mass; my mind has wandered. But I continue to go back a few days a week because I have felt the difference in my life between when I go to Mass and when I don’t.
Although not everyone is weighed down by exams and papers like I am, we are all probably feeling the pressure of the end of the year as Christmas approaches. Perhaps we can find time to go to Mass a few extra times this season to take a step back from the stress of life and appreciate the anticipation as we wait for the Lord to come.