At Boston College, daily Mass is extra accessible, so three years ago I went every day during Lent. Leading up to the season, I was a quintessential bored Catholic. I had a feeling Mass was important, but my mind was never really in it. I didn’t have any expectations besides a hopeful desire to become more engaged in what the Catechism refers to as the “source and summit of Christian life.” However, it ended up becoming a special experience and I met God in a totally new way.
The first few weeks were pretty ordinary. My body was present, but my mind was usually wandering aimlessly. My experience felt different about halfway through Lent. I became enchanted by receiving the Eucharist even on days when my head was still in the clouds. It began to feel like I was literally receiving a part of God’s love and grace. Andre Dubus writes on the sanctity of Communion with an elementary lens that captures my sentiments too. “At it’s center is excitement; spreading out from it is the peace of certainty. Or the certainty of peace.” Despite my incomplete understanding of the sacrament, I believed the Eucharist was nurturing my soul on some level.
In regards to the Eucharist the Catechism says, “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit” (CCC, 1325). When I committed to daily Mass, I was yearning to discover the subliminal majesty of Mass described in the Catechism. As time went on, the fruit of my attendance helped me begin to grasp the beauty of the sacrament.
My newfound interest in Communion was fascinating, but God taught me an especially beautiful lesson about rituals during Lent that year. I believe that humans are creatures of habit, but adopting new habits takes consistency. Unfortunately, I never really developed a knack for consistency. Going to Mass for forty consecutive days was the first act of consistency I had performed in my emerging adulthood. It was my first step to becoming the ritualistic person I am today. In A Father’s Story, Dubus says, “For ritual allows those who cannot will themselves out of the secular to perform the spiritual, as dancing allows the tongue-tied man a ceremony of love.” Dedicating twenty-seven minutes a day to planting my body in St. Mary’s Chapel became a ritual. My small act of faith transpired into a spiritual practice that I now hold near and dear to my heart.
My head is still off in the clouds all the time during Mass. I don’t go every day, or even every Sunday, but attending Mass whenever I can is a ritual I am still joyfully dedicated to. God meets me where I am when I arrive. Sometimes it is invigoratingly prayerful, and other times Jesus just holds my hand while my mind drifts to and fro. Either way, I feel lucky that the intimacy of celebrating Mass is an experience that fertilizes my relationship with Christ.