Give us this day our daily bread…
I’m a heart rhythm doctor (Cardiac Electrophysiologist if you need a tongue twister). Years ago, I was implanting a pacemaker and struggling to stick the vein with a needle to begin the implant process. The anatomy can vary and back then, we used a “blind stick.” A technician in the room suggested we inject some contrast through the IV and see the course of the vein on X-ray. It worked perfectly and changed device implants forever as we use this technique on every procedure. That simple trick was published and now doctors all over the world do this. Duh! A simple change made a great difference in my life and many others.
I’m sure you can relate to this. Whether it’s trying a different way to prepare a dish, a better way to remove a stain, a better way to get from point A to point B in your car or on your bike, there’s always that feeling of “Why didn’t I do this before?”
I was an altar boy in parochial school and served daily Mass but after Vatican II, when the Mass was no longer in Latin and I was a rebellious adolescent, I lost interest. Sunday was enough and, later, life was so hectic in medical practice that Sunday Mass became an obligation rather than something to cherish.
Life hit a low point in 2012. The administration changed at our hospital, and I was miserable. One block from the hospital was my childhood parish, which I learned offered daily Mass at 6:30 a.m. Perfect! I’d make early rounds and prepare patients for procedures then go to Mass and start the first procedure at 7:15 a.m.
That was a life-changer! Rather than being a stressed-out mess, I’d start procedures with a serenity I’d never felt before. I began adding a daily rosary and, out of the blue, received offers to join the staff at a number of prestigious institutions. Coincidence? My wife and I also learned we were going to be grandparents for the first time, so I stayed close to home and spent eight wonderful years at University of Iowa Hospitals. I was head of the “rhythm section” — and I don’t even play an instrument! We continue to feel blessed.
I attend daily Mass and enjoy it immensely. I’ve learned so much. Did you know that the readings and Gospels go in sequence? If you attend Mass only on Sunday it’s like reading every seventh page of a book and hoping to understand it. Let me list “a few of my favorite things” about daily Mass.
• Homilies rock! That’s not a medical or spiritual term, but it fits! The priest explains the readings and gives one or two short take-home messages that can help you be the best version of you!
• There are fewer distractions and usually fewer people, so praying in silence with no cellphones in a beautiful church is a pleasant experience.
• It’s more intimate. Often Mass is held in a smaller chapel rather than the large main church.
• It takes 30 minutes or less and is easier to fit into your day.
• Many of the major feast days are celebrated on weekdays.
• You meet more wonderful, faith-filled people! You see many of these same people daily and get to know them.
• You also get to see other beautiful churches! Find all the parishes around you and write down their daily Mass schedules. You will meet more great people! Since retirement from Iowa, I have been working part-time helping out around the country. Attending daily Mass in a new city helps you feel connected to that community for the time you are there.
Saving the best for last … You can receive holy Communion every day! The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. Certainly, God is trying to get the world’s attention and is doing it in his usual whisper. We need to listen! Remember, you are what you eat. Daily Communion can only be a good thing.
I also recommend getting a worship aide. I subscribe to Magnificat, which has all the readings and beautiful reflections often written by that day’s saint. I also see people using This Day or The Word Among Us or a missal. On your phone go to https://bible.usccb.org/daily-bible-reading and follow along.
Like so many things in life, you get more out of it if you put more into it. If Mass has become humdrum, go more, not less! See you at Mass!
(Dr. Michael C. Giudici is Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Iowa and a graduate of St. Paul the Apostle Grade School and Assumption High School in Davenport.)