There you are, entering the pew you sit in every week… probably running late and already distracted by the long to-do list running through your mind.
You long to be fully present at Mass this week, but you just don’t know how you’ll keep your mind focused on the mystery before you.
And so, just like last week’s Mass, you end up checking off the attendance box but you don’t actually feel any closer to God nor moved to be intentional about your spiritual life this coming week.
And this weekly routine is unfortunately on repeat.
How to Remove Distractions at Mass
Can you relate?
I know I can. So often I struggle to really pray the Mass. If it isn’t something in my head distracting me, it’s one of my screaming toddlers.
And even when I find the will to pray, often I don’t have the clarity of mind to find the words.
This is why I have found praying written prayers before Mass and Communion to be a simple but helpful solution.
It recalibrates my mind and heart right at the start of Mass and at the time of receiving Holy Communion.
There are so many prayers given to us by the Church to help us approach Mass and Communion well—here are just five:
1. My Intention Before Mass
I intend to celebrate Mass in union with my parish priest, to receive the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the rite of the holy Roman Church to the praise of our all-powerful God and all his assembly in the glory of heaven, for my good and of all the good of the pilgrim Church on earth, and for all who have asked me to pray for them in general and in particular, and for the good of the holy Roman Church.
May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us joy and peace, amendment of life, room for true repentance, the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit, and perseverance in good works. Amen.
2. A Prayer Before Mass
Receive, O Holy Trinity this Holy Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we, your unworthy servants, desire now to offer to You by the hands of Your minister, with all the sacrifices which have ever been or will be offered to You, in union with that Holy Sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ our Lord at the Last Supper, and on the Altar of the Cross.
We offer it to You with the utmost affection and devotion, out of pure love for Your infinite goodness, and according to the most holy intention of the same Christ our Lord, and of our Holy Mother the Church.
O God, almighty and merciful, grant us through this Holy Sacrifice, joy and peace, a holier life, time to do penance, grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit, and perseverance in good works.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
3. A Eucharistic Offering (by Thomas à Kempis)
Lord, all things in heaven and earth are yours. I desire to offer myself to you in free and perpetual oblation, so that I may forever be with you.
Lord, in simplicity of heart, I offer myself this day to you, to be your servant in service and sacrifice of perpetual praise.
Accept me with the oblation of your precious body, which this day I offer you in the presence of your holy angels, here invisibly present, so that it may be to my salvation and to the salvation of all people. Amen.
4. Preparation for Holy Communion (by St. Anselm of Canterbury)
Lord Jesus Christ by the Father’s plan and by the working of the Holy Spirit of your own free will you died and mercifully redeemed the world from sin and everlasting death.
I adore and venerate you as much as ever I can, though my love is so cold, my devotion so poor.
Thank you for the good gift of this your holy Body and Blood which I desire to receive, as cleansing from my sin, and for a defense against it.
Lord, I acknowledge that I am far from worthy to approach and touch the sacrament; but I trust in that mercy which caused you to lay down your life for sinners that they might be justified and because you gave yourself willingly as a holy sacrifice to the Father.
A sinner, I presume to receive these gifts so that I may be justified by them.
I beg and pray you, therefore, merciful lover of us all, let not that which you have given for the cleansing of sins be unto the increase of sin, but rather for forgiveness and protection.
Make Me, O Lord, so to perceive with lips and heart and know by faith and love, that by virtue of this sacrament I may deserve to be planted in the likeness of your death and resurrection by mortifying the old man, and by the renewal of the life of righteousness.
May I be worthy to be incorporated into your body “which is the church,” so that I may be your member and you may be my head, and that I may remain in you and you in me.
Then at the resurrection you will refashion the body of my humiliation according to the body of your glory, as you promised by your holy apostle, and I shall rejoice in you for ever to your glory who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever. Amen.
5. A Prayer Before Communion (by St. Thomas Aquinas)
Almighty and ever-living God, I approach the sacrament of your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
I come sick to the doctor of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy, blind, to the radiance of eternal light, poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
Lord, in your great generosity, heal my sickness, wash away my defilement, enlighten my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness.
May I receive the bread of angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords, with humble reverence, with the purity and faith, the repentance and love, and the determined purpose that will help to bring me to eternal salvation.
May I receive the sacrament of the Lord’s body and blood, and its reality and power.
Kind God, may I receive the body of your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, from the womb of the Virgin Mary, and so be received into his mystical body and number among his members.
Loving Father, as on my earthly pilgrimage I now receive your beloved Son under the veil of a sacrament, may I one day see him face to face in glory, who lives and reigns with you for ever. Amen.
The Power of Praying Before Mass and Communion
Though we are not required to pray one of the prayers above before attending Mass or receiving Holy Communion, we are required to properly prepare our hearts to partake of such gifts.
Our Lord yearns to pour out a tremendous amount of grace upon our souls in our reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but the truth is that that grace cannot take effect without the proper disposition of our hearts.
Our relationship with God is not one-sided. God doesn’t force us to be in relationship with Him nor does He force us to become a saint.
No, it is a relationship of love, a relationship of communion. We must respond to God’s love with acts of love and devotion in return.
When I was in college, I felt this constant nudge in my heart to start attending daily Mass. And when I finally did, it completely changed me. Eventually I was hooked and began going every day.
It was in the quiet of those week day Masses that I discovered the dialogue God was having with me in my heart.
I began to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion with great fervor and intention and the place of communion between God and me in the reception of this Sacrament became the center of my life.
So, whether you pray one of the prayers above or you pray in the simplicity of your heart, I strongly encourage you to make an act of preparation before every Mass and before every reception of Holy Communion. It’ll change your life, I promise.
How do you prepare yourself for Mass and Holy Communion?
Let me know below in the comment box!
Are you often asked what the Catholic Church teaches about tough subjects? Are you curious about what the Church teaches?
In this Tough Catholic Teachings cheat sheet I provide for you direct links to the paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that speak specifically about these tough topics.
You won’t need to go searching for what the Catholic Church actually teaches about these subjects as you will have direct access to the Catechism’s teaching all in one place!