Boring Mass?

“Mass is so boring!”

          How often have you parents heard that from your kids on Sunday morning?  How often have our teachers and catechists heard it as they prepare our children for Mass?  And, let’s admit it, how often have we said it to ourselves?

What do we say to that unfortunate and almost sacrilegious statement?

Well, for one, we simply reply, No, it’s not!  You may find the Mass boring, but, that’s more your problem than the fault of the Mass.

We may find a lot of very important activities in life “boring”: visits to the dentist can be that way; kidney patients tell me dialysis three times a week is hardly a thrill; voting is no barrel of laughs.  But, all three of them are very significant to our wellbeing, and their value hardly depends on us being ecstatic while doing them.  The Mass is even more important for the health of our soul than those examples.

Boredom is our problem, and social commentators tell us we today, so used to thirty-second sound bites, or flipping the channel when we yawn at a program, are susceptible to it.

Thank God, a person’s or an event’s value does not depend on its tendency to sometimes “bore” us.  People and significant events exist not to thrill us, unless we are the most narcissistic and spoiled of brats!

This is especially true of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  We believe that every Mass is the renewal of the most important, critical event that ever occurred: the eternal, infinite sacrifice of praise of God the Son, Jesus, to God the Father, on a cross on Calvary on a Friday called “good.”

Come to think of it, the Roman soldiers were “bored” there, too, as they mocked Jesus and rolled dice for his tunic, the only property He had.

Two, we hardly go to Mass to be entertained, but to pray.  If the flowers on the altar are pretty; if the music is good; if the air conditioning is working; if the sermon is short and meaningful; if the folks are friendly . . . all that sure helps.

But, the Mass works even when all of the above may be missing – - and, sadly, they often are!

Because, the Mass is not about us, but about God.  And the value of the Mass comes from our simple yet profound conviction, based on faith, that , for an hour on Sunday, we’re part of the beyond, lifted up to the eternal, a participant in a mystery, as we unite with Jesus in the thanks, love, atonement, and sacrifice He eternally offers His Father.  What Jesus does always works, and is never boring.  The Mass is not some tedious chore we do for God, but a miracle Jesus does with and for us.

A gentleman was just telling me about his family Sunday dinner, the heart of the week when he was growing up.  The food was so good because his mom cooked it so well, and the table so happy because his dad was always there!

Even after he got married and had his own kids, they’d all go to his mom and dad’s for that Sunday dinner.  When his kids got a bit older they asked if they “had to go,” because, yes, at times they found it “boring.”  Yes, you, do, he would reply, because we don’t just go for the food, but because of love, because mom and dad are there!

He teared-up as he recalled that, as mom and dad got old, the food wasn’t as good and the company not as sparkling, but he’d never miss, because that Sunday event had a depth of meaning even when mom burned the lasagna and dad nodded off.

And now, he concluded, he’d give anything to be there again, because mom’s gone, and dad’s in a home.

So now he and his wife host it, and he hopes his three kids will one day bring their spouses and children to their Sunday table.

See, the value of that Sunday dinner doesn’t depend on how good the food is; how expensive the wine; how interesting the conversation.  All that sure helps, but it’s the event that has the real value.

Same with the Sunday dinner of our spiritual family: Mass.

Some folks think a game at Yankee Stadium is boring; some consider country music the same; some people tell me that values such as friendship, volunteer work, family, loyalty, generosity, and patriotism are “passe,” no longer “exciting.”

I’d say they got a problem!

And some tell me “Mass is so boring…

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3 Responses to “Boring Mass?”

  1. Joan says:

    Thank you for the wise words, Cardinal Dolan.
    Just a few additions to your comments:
    1. Saint John Paul II reminded us that Mass is Heaven on Earth. Who would want to miss an opportunity to be in direct communion with God in Heaven? It is one reason I start my day with Mass. Yes, we can be part of Heaven Sun.-Sat. at Daily Mass!
    2. By learning about the essence of Divine Worship/the Mass-what is really happening on the altar- you will never be bored again! Guaranteed! If one is bored, one needs to educate himself. Read a book by a good Catholic author. Attend a Catholic study group. Ask a priest!
    3. God has given us everything; every blessing is a gift from the Holy One. God tells us to spend one hour a week with Him at Mass where he gives us the Holy Eucharist, the greatest gift of Himself. Who can’t give up an hour to give praise to the Lord and receive His Blessed Sacrament?
    4. Finally, as I tell my CCD/Religious Ed students, God gave us the 10 Commandments, not the 10 suggestions. It is required that we attend Mass because it is in our best interests to do so. It puts us on the pathway to eternity in Paradise with our Heavenly Father.

  2. Rev. Mike Craft Sr. says:

    Dear Cardinal Dolan: I am a non-Catholic Progressive Minister and I go to a Catholic Mass once a week! I enjoy the Catholic Mass in my area and I attend four separate Churches from time to time! The Catholic Church has been kind to me over the years and for that kindness I had my eldest son baptized Catholic in a fine Catholic Church in Albany, N.Y.! Father Doyle, has been a good friend over the years when I needed guidance and I wish to repay him by telling you of the Albany Churches good will and good spirit! I tend to be very modern in my preaching and feel that the Catholic Mass must stay traditional because it was the Holy Roman Catholic Church that actually edited the present day bible “FIRST”! All born again and Presbyterian (etc.) churches come from Rome, and this should be taught! Most ministers will not tell their congregants the truth but I do and I am sure you do! The Bible is a great book and should be used as a guide for honest living and the history of bad pasts! We of course do not stone people any more, but they are doing it in the mid east! I totally support the Catholic Church and will contact you directly to see if I can help you and all the Catholic Schools! God Bless, Sincerely, Rev. Mike Craft Sr.

  3. Christopher Douglas says:

    “The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication. They did not want to continue the development, the organic maturing of something living through the centuries, and they replaced it, in the manner of technical production, by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment.” -Pope Benedict XVI, writing as Cardinal Ratzinger.

    Banal is right, but it’s even worse than that. We’re all expected to do the same thing at the same time. We have to go through the check-list together. There is hardly any room for personal reflection or prayer. The New Mass is, most assuredly, a child of its time. The church needs to admit her error, go back to the missal of the late ’40′s (before Holy Week was tampered with) and do the reform again. I’m not saying we should use the old mass in a ‘frozen’ manner, but I do think the idea that everyone must march in lock-step through the mass was an enormous error.