The Mass Journal
More than a decade ago Matthew Kelly created the idea of a Mass Journal. Tens of thousands of people have experienced the power of this simple habit. Imagine if every person in your parish came to Mass on Sunday actively seeking to listen to the voice of God? We hope you and your parish will adopt the powerful habit of keeping a Mass Journal.
This is what Mr. Kelly wrote about the Mass Journal in Rediscover Catholicism…
Having prepared ourselves for Mass, the next step is to approach Mass with an open heart and open mind—expecting God to communicate with us. While many people complain about being bored at Mass, I have to believe that most Catholics would like to have a richer experience of it each Sunday. With that in mind I would like to propose a simple approach that I think could change the whole way we experience the Mass, and at the same time transform our relationships and parishes.
When you walk into Mass next Sunday, simply ask God in the quiet of your heart, God, show me one way in this Mass that I can become a-better-version-of-myself this week! Then listen. A critical component of successful relationships that is missing from our spiritual lives is listening. Listen to what God is saying to you in the music, through the readings, in the homily. Listen to the prayers of the Mass, and listen to the quiet of your heart. The one thing will strike you. Once it is revealed to you, spend the rest of the Mass praying about how you can live that one thing in the coming week.
Better than that, sometime this week, go out and get yourself a small journal. Bring it home and write down inside the front cover, “God, show me one way in this Mass that I can become a-better-version-of-myself this week!” Not “God, show me one way in this Mass my spouse can become a-better-version-of-him/herself this week!” Not “God, show me one way in this Mass my children can become better-versions-of-themselves this week!” No, God will speak to your spouse and your children in his own time and in a way that is specific to them. For now, the request you are laying before God is, “God, show me one way in this Mass that I can become a-better-version-of-myself this week!”
Then bring that journal to Church with you on Sunday. Try to arrive a few minutes early for Mass. Place this request before God: Show me one way in this Mass that I can become a-better-version-of-myself this week! Then listen to the music, the readings, the prayers of the Mass, the homily, the quiet of your heart. When that one thing strikes you, write it in your Mass Journal. Now spend the rest of the Mass praying about how you can become a-better-version-of-yourself in that way during the coming week.
If you do that every Sunday for a year your Mass Journal will become an incredibly powerful spiritual tool. You will be able to take it to your daily prayer and pass from page to page. Each page will inspire a deeply personal dialogue between you and God.
For many years now I have been doing just this at Mass each Sunday. It is usually fairly simple things that God says to me in these pages: “Avoid using negative humor.” “Cherish your wife.” “Take time each day to be grateful.” “What are you holding back from God?” Each entry provides a unique and personal opportunity for prayer and for growth.
But perhaps the most powerful aspect of this Mass Journal has been the way it subtly tracks our progress. Consider this question: Are you a-better-version-of-yourself today than you were a year ago? Most people cannot answer, or they really have to think about it. But once you have kept your Mass Journal for a year or many years, you will be able to look back and see what you were struggling with a year ago or five years ago, and recognize that you have grown. This is of critical importance, because as human beings we need to know that we are making progress. We need to be able to look in the mirror each night and say, “I’m not perfect, but I am better today than I was yesterday.” Even if our progress is only tiny in one area of our lives, it is important that we acknowledge it.
I have said it over and over again, and I will say it some more: Our lives change when our habits change. Get yourself a Mass Journal and bring it to church with you each Sunday. Write down that one thing that God whispers into your soul. This one habit will change your whole experience of the Mass, your relationship with God, and your appreciation of the Church. This one habit will help you become a-better-version-of-yourself, will make you a more engaged and contributing member of your parish community, and will invigorate your relationships.
Now take it a step further. Imagine if every person in your parish came to church each Sunday with a Mass Journal looking for one way they could become a-better version-of-themselves in the coming week. Imagine the conversations you could have with your spouse, your children, your pastor, your friends.
And finally, take it one more step. There are more than sixty-five million Catholics in the United States. Imagine if every one of them came to church each Sunday with a Mass Journal looking for one way they could become a-better-version-of-themselves in the coming week. This one habit alone is powerful and practical enough to awaken a hunger for continuous learning, a desire for best practices, and a willingness to listen to the voice of God in our lives. This single habit is practical and powerful enough to transform the entire Church.
Our lives change when our habits change. Our relationships change when our habits within those relationships change. Our families change when our habits as families change. And our Church will change and become the invigorated life-giving community God intends it to be when our habits as members of the Church support that mission.
I believe that God is constantly speaking to us, through people and events, through the Scriptures and the Church. But each Sunday we have an intimate encounter with God in the Mass. Perhaps here more than anywhere else, God wants to speak to you. If you believed God was going to speak to you at Mass, I suspect you would bring pen and paper. Get yourself a Mass Journal.