Solitary prayer is a wonderful thing, and the Church encourages us to pray alone as often as we can. But we realize that something unique happens when we gather to worship together as a Church. As Jesus said, “Whenever two or more gather in my name, there I am in their midst.” It is difficult sometimes to feel that we are connecting with God in a crowd. Perhaps the congregation talks too loudly, or the presider delivers a lackluster homily, or our thoughts are on the duties that await us at home. But it is in the presence of each other that we learn gospel living and how to be in the world. Catholic morality, everyday justice and charity are discovered in our active participation in the liturgy.
Perhaps you can help enrich your own experience of going to Mass by preparing yourself. Read the Sunday Gospel during the week so you have time to reflect on it before Mass; collect prayer intentions to take with you on Sunday; develop Sunday-morning rituals such as fasting or contemplation in anticipation of the liturgy. Once you arrive at church, participate actively and fully as a beloved member of the Body of Christ.
Participation in the Mass is your duty as a baptized Christian, but it is much more than that: It is an opportunity to fulfill your role in the Church. It is not individuals who show up every week to sing and pray but, rather, it is the Church. It is not individuals who are coming forward to the table, it is the Church. It is not even individuals who are going forth to live by the Word they have listened to and the Body and Blood of Christ they have eaten and tasted. It is the Church going forth—as the Body of Christ in service to the world God loves.