I really enjoy books that offer concrete, practical steps you can take to strengthen your faith. One such book I had the pleasure to read recently is Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly.
Kelly urges readers to do one thing at the beginning of Mass each week. Pray, and ask the Lord to show you during Mass one way you can become a better version of yourself this week. For the last several weeks I’ve done so, and it has been a really powerful experience. Sometimes parts of the readings jump out at me and other times, the homily touches my heart in a special way.
I prayed this prayer on Mother’s Day, also my Mom’s birthday. She was in town for the weekend, so I was excited to attend Mass with her and the rest of our family. During the homily, the priest was talking about how strong mothers are. My own Mom is a perfect example of this. She has been through so much, most recently some very painful back problems that led to surgery. I realized I take for granted how strong my Mom is, and sometimes fail to acknowledge her pain.
I do this to other people, too. I’m so eager to look at the bright side and help someone move past adversity, to offer solutions, that sometimes I don’t take a minute to just be there for her (or him) in her pain. To listen. To empathize.
So my challenge for the week was pretty clearly, “Acknowledge the pain of others.”
I had several opportunities to put this into practice that week. Why am I surprised when the Lord prepares my heart for what lies ahead? One day I hope I’ll come to expect it.
Try saying that prayer before Mass (or whatever service you attend) this week and let me know how it goes!