A few years ago, I read a book by Matthew Kelly who highly recommends keeping a mass journal. It wasn’t the 1st time I was exposed to the concept, but being a college student at the time, I could relate to it. I go to church every week to get nourished, to listen to God’s word, sing his praises, commune with others and hear what the priest, deacon or pastor (depending on where I happen to attend) says during their homily or sermon. The whole service, whether it’s mass or other church service is like going to class. It’s intention is to help us gain practical knowledge and practice rituals that are designed to help us grow closer to God and live out our faith. Give us something to think about and practice during the rest of the week. Why wouldn’t I take notes? Why isn’t everyone taking notes?
Church–The Classroom for Life
The 1st time I was exposed to the concept was about 15 years ago, when my husband, who is a practicing Lutheran, (yes, we attend different churches) talked about how confirmation candidates are required to take sermon notes. At the time, I was on my church’s board of religious education and helped start the practice for our confirmation candidates. I remember thinking what a cool thing for these students! However, like many things, I didn’t think I needed it myself. It wasn’t until I was back in college and traveling down my own spiritual path that I thought the practice may be good for me, too.
Matthew Kelly, a Catholic-Christian writer, educator and speaker urges his readers to write down 1 idea from Sunday mass that really speaks to them. As I started this practice, I found I was struck at least once (if not several times) during church services. Sometimes it’s a lyric from a song we’re singing. Sometimes, it’s a passage, phrase or theme from a reading. Other times it’s something from a homily or sermon the strikes a chord with me. And still others, it’s people I saw, talked to or even the blessings of all the little ones that keep me from hearing every word said at the pulpit. They’ve got the Spirit-Pure Joy! Whatever it is, I write it down.
As we were taught in school, writing things down helps to solidify them in our minds. Whether or not we actually read them again or not, the act of doing something about what we hear or see helps us to retain it. And shouldn’t we be retaining what we see, hear, do and experience at church? Or maybe you don’t attend or belong to a formal church. Maybe you intentionally seek connection to God through other means. Isn’t that why we go? To receive those bits of information or practice those rituals that feed our soul? You bet I’m going to try to solidify them in my mind. Carrying those nuggets of joy with me throughout the week, I use them to my advantage throughout the week.
Using my Church Journal
Sometimes, my notes inspire a blog or social media post that I can share with others. Other notes I’ve used with my clients. This last week, Father took a spin off the gospel where Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” 3 times. He asked us “Where is the hardest place for us to recognize the Risen Christ?” 3 times. I perked up when the 1st answer he gave us was, “ourselves.” SO TRUE! And a biblical truth I use in my coaching practice. We don’t think we’re worthy or good enough to take care of ourselves and our bodies. Father reminded us, even through our sinfulness, Jesus still wants the best for us. Still wants us to share in everything he has to offer. This made me smile, affirming my work. Validating I’m on the right path.
Church Journaling is super simple to do. Bring a notebook, journal (or even a planner) of some kind and a pen or pencil to church. Write the date. Tune in to the words, actions, songs, people, rituals, sacraments, and how they all help you connect to God. Write down or draw a picture of what strikes a chord with you. I’ve used a plain notebook, a dedicated journal, a planner that actually has dedicated space for church notes.
Your time is precious. (or longer). It helps you see God really does love you and is providing you with everything you need. Words of inspiration, comfort or encouragement. Melodies that lift your heart. Rituals that help us commune with God and others. He’s graciously offering these things to you. Are you willing to graciously receive and use them?
How do you hear God speaking to you during your church services? Start writing them down & let me know how it helps you throughout the rest of the week!
The Pray. Eat. Move. Journal also works well for Church Journaling. You can write on the page you’re on, or on the quote page or write on a sticky note if you want to use the journal for other things. Be creative and don’t forget to check the Pray box for the day! For more information on journaling check out my posts on Daily Logs , Joy Journaling and Positive Affirmations as well as my free Guide to Journaling: Connecting With God & Improve Your Health.