When I was growing up, I belonged to the Boys Scouts for a couple of years. I didn’t really want to join, but my best friend did so I followed along. It only lasted a year or two, at most. One of the things that I remember, and I’m sure most of you know as well, is the Scouts’ motto: “Be prepared”. It’s a motto not only for the Scouts, but it should be for all of us. Throughout our lives, we need to prepare ourselves.
In the Gospels, Jesus tells us to “Be prepared. You do not know the day nor the hour that the Lord is coming”. Stern words, perhaps, but a good reminder.
I like to think about preparing for Mass. The last ten or fifteen minutes before Mass, I like to prepare, to get into, what I call, “Mass mode”. Get ready to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice, remember the Scripture readings that I will hear and proclaim, and prepare myself to be in touch with God. Be prepared.
Before Mass, for the last 10 or 15 minutes before it begins, you will notice our music director, Steve Reyes, playing music softly. He too, is trying to prepare himself for the Mass. He is also trying to set an atmosphere in Church, so that all of us are preparing ourselves. A few months ago, I wrote about the importance of a silent atmosphere in Church, especially before Mass. Many, many of you wrote to me in response, thanking me for the article. This is the time we are getting ready to be most united with Christ. Although you may want to greet a friend, in a quiet voice, remember the reason that you are there. I hope no one of you comes to church merely to see his/her friends. We come to be close to God. Be prepared.
Those last minutes before Mass are also vital to the lectors and commentators. You should be spending the time checking over the passage from the Word of God that you are about to proclaim to the assembly, for them to hear from your mouth the Word of God. What an awesome responsibility and privilege. Commentators, likewise, should be preparing the words that they have to announce to the Assembly; check on the pronunciation of names! No one likes to have his or her name mispronounced or worse yet, massacred, particularly at Church. The commentator is the voice of the Church for that particular Mass. Be prepared.
We humans are people that are easily distracted. Let’s not let our voices or our actions distract others as they are trying to prepare to hear the Word of God and receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Be prepared.