Corpus Christi Blog

How to Encounter God at Mass

08-07-2022Weekly ReflectionMatthew Henry, Director of Music and Liturgy

Five years ago, I asked Fr. Chad if I could work for the parish full-time. For a decade prior, I was both the Music Director here and a high school teacher in the area. Working both jobs was fine for a while, but unsustainable in the long run. I needed to choose one. I prayed.

The more I prayed, the more I was called to leave my school and commit to my church and my faith. (There is an interesting and much longer version of this part of the story, but it is not what I am writing about today.) Father Chad also discerned and prayed about my request, and ultimately agreed to help me transition into full-time ministry, not only as Music Director, but also as Director of Liturgy. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I gave him an enthusiastic, “Yes!” and a new chapter in my personal journey of faith began.

As Director of Liturgy for our parish, I now facilitate and collaborate with many other wonderful volunteers beyond our choirs: Mass captains and sacristans, ushers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, lectors, altar servers, porters, people who volunteer to clean the church, and people who clean the linens. I had no idea how much love, service, and sacrifice goes into each Mass. It makes the Mass so much more beautiful knowing this.

In my first year as liturgical director, most of my focus was on learning about our liturgy; reading the GIRM (General Instruction on the Roman Missal), the Catechism, and other liturgical documents. With Mass schedulers, captains, trainers and facilitators in place, my interactions with the ministers themselves were few and far between. Then the pandemic began, and everything changed.

The short version of the pandemic chapter: at first, everything shut down. Eventually things opened back up and, gradually, restrictions were lifted. We all did the best we could with the limited information we had. Mistakes were made, nerves were raw, tempers were short, feelings were hurt, some people moved on, while others literally moved. Many parishioners have now returned to our parish, but some have not. Many volunteers have returned to their ministries, but others have not. Most of us will not look back fondly at this period, but “all things work for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28).

One silver lining of the pandemic, for me, was that I was able to get out front to greet and meet many more parishioners and work more closely with volunteers as they returned to serving in our ministries. I now have the privilege to gather with our liturgical volunteers half an hour before each weekend Mass begins. We gather so that we can be efficient and organized in our service, to discuss any important news or special circumstances for the weekend, and most importantly, to pray.

We begin our prayer in a moment of silence, taking time to feel God’s presence. We then invite Him deeper and ask that we can encounter Him in the Mass. We desire to know Him better, to love Him more, and to serve Him in the Mass and in the world. We ask for the inspiration and guidance from the Holy Spirit and give Him permission to use us for whatever purposes He has for us that day. We ask Him to point us in the direction of anyone who needs help, whether physical, spiritual, or emotional; that we can be Jesus’ face, hands, heart, and voice to the people who enter our parish today. We pray that our service can help clear a path through all the obstacles and noise, so that everyone can have an encounter with God that day – that they will recognize God’s presence and know His love, grace, and mercy in their lives; that they would know Him, love Him, and desire to serve Him and their fellow man.

Through this prayer, a goal for our parish became clear: that every person who attends Mass here encounters God. There are four ways in which you can help our parish achieve this goal: prepare, pray, participate, and serve.


Read and reflect on the Sunday readings in advance. This allows you to actively listen to the Word proclaimed during the Mass and allows God to speak to you personally through it.


Ask God to reveal Himself more to you through the Mass. Pray for the people sitting around you, that they would have an encounter with God as well. Pray that we all will know God better, love Him more, and grow in desire to serve Him and others out of that love when we are sent forth at the end of the Mass.


Use whatever voice God gave you for spoken and sung prayers and psalms. Encourage others by lifting your voice in prayer and worship. The beauty of the soul that sings cuts through any deficiencies in your tone quality or pitch. (“Make a joyful noise.” - Psalm 100)


There are many ways to serve at Mass. You can be trained to serve the Eucharist as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion or proclaim the Word of God as a lector. You can sing in the choir, serve at the altar, usher, volunteer to help pass the basket, greet, clean, etc. Many hands make light work and the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it!

These four components work best in the order they are listed. Begin with preparation and let that flow into prayer. As you ask for an encounter with our Lord, He will give it to you and stir your heart to greater participation and service. The Holy Spirit will enkindle the fire of His love and dynamic life will flow through our parish and into the community and world.

The Mass is a miracle! It is the moment when heaven and earth touch and the time when we worship the Lord together. It is where God is truly present in the Word, the Eucharist, and the community (the Body of Christ). The Mass is both a sacrifice and a celebration. We participate in the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb on a cross at Calvary and the celebration that Jesus conquered death and sin in the Resurrection. We are called to ponder in awe the miracle of the Mass, to worship God in celebration and thanksgiving, and to offer sacrifice. The more we enter into these three things, the more God pours out His life and love, His mercy and grace, into our hearts.

When you feel called to serve, please visit our website and click the “Serving” tab in the top, middle of the page. You can learn much more about each of the liturgical ministries that help with the Masses, as well as many other great ministries that take place throughout the week. You can also reach out to me directly by phone or by email. My contact information is listed on the second page of the bulletin.

May God bless each of you and bless our parish of Corpus Christi Catholic Church!