Participating more actively in the Mass

How to Participate More Actively in the Celebration of the Mass

Hearing the Word of God

Hearing the Word of God is an essential part of participating in the Mass. Our stance before the Word is not passive but an active, attentive listening. When God speaks we have an obligation to receive his message; we must prepare ourselves by knowing the language in which God speaks, that is, we must become more familiar with the Bible and its expressions and symbols.

1) Preparing to hear

In order to really hear the Word when it is read in church, we must have already read and prayed with the Word at home. Why not invest in a Sunday Missal? Or go to and download their app with all the readings. In the parish newsletter, we print the reading references for the following Sunday. We do well to take the time to look up the readings for next Sunday in the Bible and use these texts for our prayer during the week. What homily or sermon would we give on these texts? We might compare our homily with that we hear in Church and experience the various, multiple ways in which the Spirit speaks to us through the Scriptures.

2) Receiving the Word respectfully, silently and attentively

During the reading we need an atmosphere of quiet, free from distracting movement and noise. Silence doesn’t just happen in church—it must be created. Every member of the community has a duty to create that silence. Before the reading starts we must prepare ourselves to be quiet, putting away things that are going to make noise. Our readers, those who have the responsibility of proclaiming the Word, must allow the community to settle into silence before they commence.

Some members of the parish community may not be old enough to actively help create this silence, and that is why we provide the children’s liturgy at the 9.30 am Mass for children 3 years +. Parents should also think about where they are sitting with their babies and young children so that they have easy access to an exit, if they need to take their child out in order to settle them. The Upper room at the top of the stairs opposite the Cathedral toilets is also a space for settling babies and children.

If we come late, we ought to wait until the reading is over to be seated. This is another way in which we show our concern for the presence of Christ both in his Word and in the assembly.

3) Being and looking attentive

There is a relationship between the effectiveness of the speaker and the attention of the listeners. A good listener makes the speaker want to do better. If a congregation is silent and attentive, our readers and clergy will deliver the Word of God with greater commitment and desire to communicate that God’s word is alive and active something in our lives.

Fr Martin