5 Things A Convert Always Brings To Catholic Mass

by February, Mass

I tease that I grew up as a “Metho-byterian-ist of God” – I was baptized United Methodist, sang in a Presbyterian traveling youth choir, went to Wednesday night Bible study with my Baptist friends, and often visited an Assemblies of God church with a guy I dated. As crazy and disjointed as it may sound, I thought my spiritual life was pretty solid. By the age of 10, I had dozens of verses committed to memory and by the time I was a teen, I had a favorite Bible that was well worn with pages flagged and colored in pink, orange, and yellow highlighter. My Bible had a cloth cover with handles that made carrying it to church super easy to toss over my arm with a purse – it even had pen slots for my beloved highlighters. My Bible contained scribbled notes all throughout and there were sermon note papers folded neatly inside different books for safekeeping.

But when I converted to Catholicism as a 31-year-old wife and mom, I rarely saw anyone carrying their Bible on Sundays or taking notes in Mass. I was getting a “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” kind of vibe. I was learning all the new things and, at the same time, figuring out where, when, and how my old habits fit into this new life. Do I bring my bible to Mass? Can I take notes in Mass or is it disrespectful? Do I need to take my brand new shiny rosary to Mass with me? Do I need a missal? Should I subscribe to Magnificat? There were so many things to figure out. What do I need when I go to Mass?!

What I Bring To Mass

In 2024, my husband and I will mark 20 years as Catholics and, in that time, I think I’ve finally figured out what I need with me at Mass – pen, paper, Rosary, kleenex (more on that later), and most importantly, a spirit that is prepared to be fully present, open to the intimacy of the Trinity and ready to receive Jesus and all the graces that flow from Him. (CCC 1997)

PEN & PAPER

I know some fancy people who have a beautiful Mass journal. That’s not me. I’m not fancy. But, I need something to write on – an envelope, a receipt, the backside of a faith formation registration form – because I retain information much better when I write it down. Also, don’t get it twisted thinking I take meticulous, color-coded notes. I mostly want to jot down something that stuck with me or pierced my heart (in a good or bad way) or something I want to remember to share with others. I am, however, particular about my pens. I’m gonna need a fine-point roller ball, please. Preferably in a fun color.

ROSARY

A pen and paper for notes was nothing new but when we start talking about a Rosary going to Mass with me, it was a new concept. In those early years of being a baby Catholic, I always wanted to have a Rosary in my pocket or purse because I never knew when I’d be invited to join a prayer group. It seems funny now that I was waiting for someone to invite me to pray the Rosary instead of just praying it myself. (Go easy on me – remember, I was a baby Catholic!) After years of turning to Mother Mary for anything from keeping my daily devotion to pleading for her intercession, my Rosary is something that is always with me. I like to sit before Mass and pray a decade or two. This prayer brings me peace and helps me to focus regardless of how hectic life was in the hour leading up to Mass. 

KLEENEX

Simply put, I’m a crier. I cannot tell you how many times my kids see my eyes filled with tears during Mass and giggle. It’s nothing for one to whisper to me, “are you crying again?” I’m an emotional human who is moved by words and music. If you’re at Mass with me and you sniffed some onions or your allergies are acting up, I got you covered!

DISPOSITION

The most important thing I’ve learned I must bring to Mass is a spirit that is open and prepared to be fully present. When I go to Mass, my experience is very different from my Protestant days. Yes, I would want to have an open spirit and I’d strive to be fully present in church,  but if I wasn’t in the right mindset, I just counted it as an off day. As a Catholic, a true encounter with Jesus can never be counted as an off day. Every time I go to Mass, I desire to be fully present because I am receiving the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ and last I looked, HE doesn’t take days off. More than anything, I want to be open to that intimacy and ready to receive Him and all the graces that flow from Him. Being fully present doesn’t mean nothing goes wrong, I’m human after all, but it does mean that I’m open to Jesus and all He has for me on that day and in that place. What a gift we have in the Eucharist!

I believe that what each person wants to take to Mass can be very personal, but, dare I say, we all need to bring our open heart – prepared to be fully present, open to the intimacy of the Trinity, and ready to receive Jesus and all the graces that flow from Him (CCC 1997).

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Image: Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

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