Q: What’s the best New Year’s resolution for someone who wants to grow deeper in their faith?
A: As Catholics, we are blessed with so many ways to grow deeper in our faith, but I really think the starting point needs to be a deepened relationship with Jesus in the Mass.
The Mass is the source and the summit of our Christian life. Everything else we do should flow from and feed into our encounter with Jesus in his word and sacrament.
So I would recommend this New Year’s resolution: To grow deeper in your spiritual encounter with Jesus in the Mass.
Fortunately, there are some excellent resources to help you.
First, grow in your understanding and appreciation of the movements, rituals and symbols of the Mass. One of the best resources I have ever come across is a short book called What Happens at Mass by Jeremy Driscoll (the abbot of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon). This book changed the way I celebrate Mass, and it will change the way you participate in Mass. Take your time with it. The chapters are not long but they are very meaningful and need to be carefully considered.
Next, deepen your experience of Jesus who offers himself to us in the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
For the Liturgy of the Word, I recommend listening to the weekly podcast of Bishop Robert Barron’s sermons. These excellent homilies on the Sunday Scriptures will open your heart and mind to recognize, receive and respond to Christ’s presence in your daily life.
I’ve also written a series of reflections on the Sunday Gospel readings intended to help Catholics grow in their lives of discipleship. I wrote them to help parishioners enter more deeply into the Mass by praying over the Gospel reading in anticipation of the Sunday liturgy. You can download these reflections at seattlearchmedia.weebly.com.
For the Liturgy of the Eucharist, I recommend two excellent books. Brant Pitre’s Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist is a wonderful Bible-based presentation of our Lord’s real presence in the Eucharist. It will open your eyes and heart to the richness of the Eucharist and the many graces Jesus offers us in his body and blood. Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper approaches the Eucharist in a complementary way, drawing on the Book of Revelation.
Of course, it’s not enough just to learn about the Mass. Knowledge means nothing if we don’t act on it. In addition to studying, we must follow the example of the shepherds who received the good news of Jesus in the manger of Bethlehem (an image of the Eucharist) and go “to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us” (Luke 2:15).
Any religious knowledge we are blessed to receive matures to fulfillment only as we allow it to lead us to an authentic encounter with the Lord. For this reason, my highest recommendation is to attend Mass faithfully.
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - January/February 2020