The Catholic Commentator

During the “springtime of the soul” of Lent, daily Mass can plant seeds that yield good results as Catholics cultivate their “garden” of spiritual growth, according to several priests in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

“In my own experience of the Lenten journey, I have always found that taking on the Lenten practice of daily Mass is one of the best spiritual exercises that one can do,” said Father Cleo Milano, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Baton Rouge. 
“While many people like to give up something, taking on the commitment to do something extra such as daily Mass is a marvelous opportunity for spiritual growth.”

Father Milano pointed out that daily Mass “places one in the quiet presence of the Lord to hear the powerful Scriptures that calls Catholics to deepen their own conversion of heart.”

“Hearing God’s word proclaimed in the daily Mass Scriptures and meditating on the call to return to the Lord with all of our heart is a great way to evaluate our present spiritual condition and reprioritize those things that need to be shifted in our life,” said Father Milano.

Following the hearing of God’s word with Eucharist and receiving Jesus (body, blood, soul and divinity) people are strengthened to make those changes that they know they need, according to Father Milano. While doing so, they can form a community with other attendees who are doing the same thing.

“One of the beautiful things about daily Mass during Lent is the support that one feels from the many other parishioners and faithful who share the same journey and desire for conversion,” said Father Milano. “It is assuring and comforting to know that we do not make this journey on
our own, but rather we are united spiritually to many others as well.
As a priest, it is so edifying to see God’s faithful people gather in a
spirit of repentance to open their hearts for God.”

Father Philip Spano, pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Baton Rouge, said, “The various Lenten practices of many include increased prayer, acts of self-denial, works of charity and penance.

“When I was a child my father (Victor) would attend daily Mass and give up drinking for Lent. I’m not sure what made him happier when Easter finally arrived, but he liked daily Mass.”

Father Spano said in his experience as a priest, and most likely other priests, daily Mass attendance increases during Lent as a way of adding prayer for an individual.

“There is not the personal and communal obligation to attend (daily) Mass with our Catholic family, so there is choice and intentionality in a different way,” he said. “It becomes a personal act of piety, a personal prayer from among many Catholic prayer forms (and/or devotions) for individuals.”

For some to be fed by God’s word and sacrament more often than on the weekend is a personal call and/or choice.”

Father Spano said most ways of praying involve some dimension of intentionality and going to daily Mass has to be intentional.

“All prayer nourishes us in some way, and daily Mass is being nourished by God’s word and sacrament in a devotional way more often,” said Father Spano.

Many are drawn to different ways of praying in their personal/private prayer time, said Father Spano. He stressed it is “good to stay away from commentaries on what’s better or not” and be respectful of differences in how others pray privately, adding that daily Mass is good.

“Praying the rosary and other devotional prayers, novenas, etc., are good as well. Contemplation and meditation in one’s own private space is good (inside or outside of church),” said Father Spano.

He emphasized, “One thing that participating in Sunday Mass and/or daily Mass should do is guarantee some dimension of ‘thanksgiving’ because the word Eucharist literally means ‘thanksgiving.’ There needs to be an intentionality to gratitude in all ways of praying, but in the celebration of the Eucharist the first movement is: “I/We are going to do thanksgiving.”

“The first movement is not what I get out of it or not (that helps), but the need personally and as a community is to give our gratitude to God. Then God says (I think), ‘I’m grateful for your gratitude so I’m going to give you more of me.’ I’m pretty sure the movement of Lent is subtracting ‘too much me’ in order to let God in at Mass, in various ways of praying, and in God’s presence within us.”

The two greatest aids in the spiritual life are prayer and the sacraments, according to Father Brent Maher, pastor of St. Ann Church in Morganza.

“The Mass is a perfect place to put ourselves if we are hoping to deepen our faith in the Lord. The journey into the desert is a time of self-reflection when we can get down to the most important things, stripping away the extras that often cling to us. The experience of daily Mass is somewhat comparable,” he said.

Father Maher talked about how daily Mass helps people better understand the Sunday Mass.

“The Sunday experience has all the bells and whistles, so to speak, but the daily Mass is the quiet humble encounter with Jesus. The readings at Mass on Sundays are helpful in hitting the high points of the Lenten season, but the daily Mass readings also help us to dig a bit deeper into the meaning of the season. Additionally, the personal encounter with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is a blessed time in which we can really allow Christ to become a greater part of our day, purifying us little by little and helping us to become the best we can be each day.

“I have noticed that parishioners who come to daily Mass soon develop a love for it. I have often heard from parishioners how they enjoy the quietness of it, how the liturgical feasts of saints gives them great insight and encouragement in their own faith, and how they understand the Mass much more on Sundays. Whether it’s in knowledge or in prayer, a greater richness is always a blessing to the individual and to the larger community.”

The priest noted that the offertory procession, music, intercessions, sign of peace and even the homily, are sometimes absent from the daily Mass, which helps people see what is most important: worship.

“The reading of the word of God in Scripture and the offering of the holy sacrifice in the Eucharist constitute the two main parts of the Mass, and daily Mass highlights this in a profound way by showing that when all else is stripped away, this is the essence of why we are there: to meet Jesus Christ in word and flesh,” Father Maher said

“This understanding, rather than devaluing the Sunday Mass, has a way of making the procession, music, intercession, etc., even more special and celebratory when we experience them. It shows the great solemnity that Sunday is truly supposed to have for us as Christians.”