1) Bring a journal to Mass. I have done this for years to help me stay focused and to capture inspirations from the Holy Spirit. I got this idea from business philosopher Jim Rohn. Catholic apologist Matthew Kelly also recommends having a journal at Mass. Yes, people are going to look at you while taking notes because they are thinking they should be doing the same. I know this because they have said that to me.
2) Prayerfully read the readings before going to Mass. A great way to do this is with the ancient tool of Lectio Divina. There are at least three reasons to study the readings before hearing them at Mass.
- First, it is possible that God is going to say something to you during your study that you might not have heard in Mass.
- Second, God is also going to speak to you through your priest during the homily.
- Finally, time is never wasted studying Scripture.
3) Arrive before Mass and pray for the priest. He is about to do THE most important duty in the world, and he needs our prayers. Offering your priest up to Jesus at each Mass helps you develop a love for him.
The truth is, the problem is not with priest, it’s with you. To love as Jesus loves, you need to ask Him to help change your heart to love your priest with all of his failings.
4) IGNORE which priest is presiding at Mass and focus on meeting Jesus during the Mass. If you feel frustration when seeing the priest you don’t like, ask Jesus why you are reacting this way. Put the answer in your journal to help you learn from this. In reading about the early Church, you will see that not all the apostles liked each other but through the love they shared in Jesus, they changed the world.
5) During the Liturgy of the Word, [write down] thoughts that come to mind while the readings are being proclaimed (not always easy to do during the Gospel). I have found this is the Spirit pointing out something important. During the homily, do the same thing. Listen for something that you connect with. DO NOT focus on the quality of his delivery; listen for what is being said.
6) Make an effort to get to know the priest. This could be as simple as meeting for coffee during the day or having him to your house for dinner. He is still going to have his quirks that rub you the wrong way but at least you can get to know him better, which will help you pray better for him.
7) Get to confession. Of course, if you have missed Mass but also for some direction in overcoming your struggle with the priest. Obviously, it would be good to talk to a different priest about your struggles.
This might be a surprise to you but priest don’t always like each other, their bishop, or their parishioners. They have been given some skills — as well as some gifts from the Holy Spirit — to help them overcome their humanness. Your confessor will be glad to share these with you.
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