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Pondering the Mass (5)

What are your worst habits? What are your best habits? Habits are neither good nor bad, but the fact that we can create a habit is a blessing of God. He wants us to be able to learn things and have them become second nature to us. Of course, the things that God wants us to learn are good and holy things, and not sinful things. We all know what our sinful habits are (even if we want to deny them). When it comes to the Mass, there are a number of things that are the same each Mass, and a number that change in each Mass. This combination of consistency and variation (when balanced rightly) is good for our soul.

Think of some of the bad habits that people have. These habits influence our hearts (often in grave ways). How many people say things when angry out of habit? How many people eat certain things out of habit? How many people overreact to other's behaviors out of habit? When our habits control us for evil, then we are slaves to sin. We are called to create holy habits so that we can quickly and easily do things that are good and godly. The Mass is the perfect place to create those good habits.

What happens to many of us, especially today, is that we have created certain bad habits which make it harder to create good habits. I doubt many would have a hard time figuring out one of the worst in our day and age. Exactly, the so-called smart phone. Addiction to the phone prevents you from learning to focus on the Mass. The habits of needing constant video stimulus makes the mind dull and is counter productive to the path of holiness that we are called to follow.

We can take advantage of the "habits" of the Mass only if we resist those bad influences. There is just enough that varies from Mass to Mass that we can realize that it is not merely a repeat. There are also enough things that stay constant so that we can learn the pattern and have it become a habit. I once had a priest tell me that he sought to do something different than before in every Mass (I believe the only way to accomplish this is to break the rules, but I was once told that there are enough variations in the Novus Ordo to make it possible to do the Mass in over 500 different ways!).

If the Mass you attend is that different each time, then you are never able to build habits. You are not able to have it work into your soul. I read an article by a priest once who said that variations in the Mass make it more entertaining to the common person -- sorry, entertaining is a bad trait, not a good one. You want to learn the rhythm; you want to create holy habits; you want to genuflect before the tabernacle instinctually, and stand for the Creed, and strike your breast when you say "I am not worthy..."

The Mass is the training ground where we are (supposed to be) learning how to worship God in Heaven for all eternity. That means it is good for this life, and the next. Form those habits. Learn to reverence God. Make the words and actions of the Mass your very life-blood.


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