Pray better this Lent!

February 17 – Pray better this Lent!

“Re-shape your heart” this Lent. That is a phrase I’ve been thinking of for Lent. It’s the Lord who re-shapes our hearts, but the tools where we allow him to do that are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Last week I spoke a bit about almsgiving. This week I want to talk about prayer especially how to pray the Mass better this Lent!

Here are a few practical suggestions:

  • Read Sunday Readings before Sunday: Take some time during the week to read the upcoming Sunday readings. When you come to Mass and already have spent some time praying and reflecting on them, it will make your experience of them far more prayerful and fruitful. It tends to be easier to focus on them when we’ve prepared with them already, rather than hearing them for the first time at Mass. Hopefully the priest’s homily will be more meaningful because he is talking about readings that you are already familiar with. You’re welcome to borrow a missalette to do this or you can also visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s website at, where they post the Scripture readings for each day.
  • Arrive early to pray: When we’re able to arrive early and take time to pray before Mass, it can help us better prepare. When we’re rushing to Mass and arrive just in time, it can make it more difficult to pray during Mass. It is like driving really fast and then slamming on the brakes. By the time we’ve slowed down our mind enough to try and focus, Mass is already half over! Arriving early, to take some time to quiet us and pray before Mass can help our mind and heart to settle. Thus, we can be in the right prayerful disposition to be far more present to the prayers of Mass itself and therefore gain much more fruit from it.
  • Formulate your prayer intention: A third thing is to have a particular prayer intention, to pray for throughout Mass. Especially, to call to mind and hold in prayer someone specific you want to “offer up” in the Mass. Perhaps, a family member or friend who is sick or struggling, or going through a hard time. Or perhaps, someone who is not struggling but you just want to pray for God’s blessing in his or her life. Or perhaps, praying for people you do not know, but have heard about, such as people affected by some tragic event you heard about on the news (a natural disaster, war, violent shootings, etc.)

Having a specific prayer intention – for person or people – can help you focus your prayer during Mass. Each time your mind is tempted to wander, you can go back to remembering to pray to the Lord for that intention. Throughout the Mass when there are moments of silence, or when the priest says, “let us pray,” or when we gather the gifts on the altar, you can return to that specific prayer intention and prayerfully offer them onto the altar of the Lord.


– Fr. Kevin