Week 3 | July 2 to July 8 | Arrive 15 minutes before Mass and spend time in silent prayer

Friday, June 30, 2023

Dear Sisters and Brother in Christ,

Welcome to Week 3 of On the Road to Emmaus with Bishop Earl Boyea. This week Bishop Boyea begins our journey through the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass beginning with our very arrival into the House of God, the Domus Dei, that is every Catholic church. Hence, his challenge for this week: Arrive at Church 15 minutes before Holy Mass and spend time in silent prayer. Reproduced below is Bishop Boyea's script for this week:

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Welcome to Week 3 of On the Road to Emmaus. For the first two weeks, we have been preparing ourselves for our year-long journey by prayerfully pondering Saint Luke’s account of that first pilgrimage on the Road to Emmaus. How did you get on? I hope you have found it fruitful.

This week I would like to begin our walk through the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. So, let’s start with a question: What is our first act of worship on Sunday?

Can you believe it’s actually opening of the Church door and walking into that holy space? We never worship God alone. Rather, it is as the Body of Christ, the Assembly, that we act with Jesus as our Head.

I have been reflecting on this idea for a while. Let us think about what happens as we leave our cars and walk up to those church doors. We are not just entering a building. We are stepping into a holy place, a sanctuary.

Saint Peter tells us that we are to come to Jesus who is a living stone and, “like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:5).

He adds, quoting Exodus 19, “But you are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises’ of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (I Peter 2:9).

The Scriptures always talk about us as a people. We signal this as we dip our finger in the Holy Water and make the Sign of the Cross. Because it is as baptized Christians that we are able to be those living stones joined together in the House of God.

Certainly, we are individuals who respond to God’s call, but we are also members of the community of the Household of Faith at the very same time.

We are the Assembly of Jesus Christ. When the priest and servers process up the aisle, they are symbolically doing what each of us have done as we entered the Church. It is a procession, a pilgrimage together on the way, which engages all of us. So, sisters and brothers, let our first act of worship be a more conscious walk into that assembly knowing that we belong there and that all the others present belong to us, as well belong to Christ. And, so, to this week’s challenge. Here it is: Arrive at church 15 minutes before Holy Mass and spend that time in silent prayer.

Our churches aren’t simply a gathering space for Christians. They are a House of God, a Domus Dei. He is present. Hence, as a pious norm, we should comport ourselves reverently, prayerfully and silently while in church. Let’s keep conversation for the parking lot or parish hall.

As for arriving 15 minutes before Mass? As the eldest of ten kids, I know it’s not easy to get a busy family out of the house on time. It can also seem daunting or, even, unrealistic to expect our children to sit in silence prior to Mass. If that’s you, then you can only try your best. You have my prayers!

You may find, however, that those quiet moments prior to Mass will actually help settle and still your children. Hence, all the family will be better prepared for Holy Mass. Until next week, God bless you all.

Assuring you of my prayers, I am sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Earl Boyea

Bishop of Lansing