The Mass is Boring!

Dear Sean, Tony and Brendan,
I have been meaning to contact somebody in the Church for some time and just spotted a short article in our local paper about your forthcoming Conference on how to revive the Catholic Church. (She is referring to ‘Towards and Assembly for the South’) I note from the article that one of your concerns is the dwindling numbers that are attending mass and this is related to the issue that I wanted to highlight.
I have 2 teenage daughters aged 15 and 17 years old. My husband and I have always attended Sunday mass every week together with our 2 daughters but about 6 months ago my 17 year old decided that she will not be attending any more and this has rubbed off on my 15 year old who after a few weeks decided to do the same. They are of an age now where I feel this issue is for them to decide and I am not going to argue with them about it. The shameful incidents in the Church’s history in Ireland has not helped in my efforts to persuade them to keep going to mass but the main reason they are turned off is that they find the priest boring and unfortunately I have to agree with them about this point. I don’t want to identify our local priest for 2 reasons – 1. he is a very kind, sincere man who I like very much and 2. wherever I travel around Ireland I usually see the same problem at mass so he is not the only one. Our local priest has a very monotone voice and his sermons always seem to be off the top of his head, no clear structure, not very interesting and delivered without much enthusiasm but as I just mentioned, I usually find the same problem whenever I attend mass at another church. I very rarely come across priests who can easily hold my attention and say mass with enthusiasm. Whenever I look around the congregation in my local church I only ever see very small numbers of young people and I presume the ones who have stayed away must feel the same as my daughters. I think most priests badly need a refresher course in their speaking/communication skills at mass and maybe it’s something you and your colleagues might think about.

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  1. Isn’t the question raised here even more urgent than, as well as directly related to, the dwindling and demoralisation of priests? Our young Irish people just don’t see the point in attending our central ritual.
    My guess is that they simply cannot see what it has to do with them. It’s all about old people’s uninteresting and non-topical monologues to old people – usually about a theoretical heaven that awaits us if we just continue to show up, pay up and shut up! The likelihood of the kingdom of God breaking in right now has been totally lost.
    As though there wasn’t a crisis in the world outside, especially for young people. (The Irish Times today reports that four in every ten young Irish people say that at some point they have felt their lives were not worth living.)
    Will our clergy read this? Will they think about it? Will they visit the captive audiences they have in our Catholic schools to discuss it? Will they think about devoting one mass every week to the prayers and dreams of young people for a more caring and just society, and refresh their homilies with some Catholic social teaching aimed at the young?
    If there was one thing more than any other that would revitalise our Irish church it would be putting young people at the centre of it.
    For example, couldn’t the ACP sponsor a competition for the best young person’s brief article – to appear here – on e.g. ‘Where are all the young people?’ and ‘What would bring us back?’
    We’ve done the ‘grey assemblies’ bit, and we’re all dying fast. What about an Irish Catholic youth assembly?
    Why does ‘World Youth Day’ happen ever on just one square mile of the earth’s total surface? Because it’s essentially a photo op for the papacy?

  2. Perhaps the problem is deeper than just a refresher on preaching. The meaning and function of the mass probably needs looking at. I am way beyond all that now, but when young I used to bring Bishop Robinson (Honest to God) and Paul Tillich (The Shaking of the Foundations) along and found them a stimulating read. I don’t know what today’s equivalent volumes might be.

  3. Association of Catholic Priests says:

    A Priest responds:
    A problem, okay but hard to know what can be done about it.
    I’m ordained a lot of years and at this stage I don’t think I will improve much in the coming years.
    Two points off the top of my head.
    1. Many of the important things in life are difficult to keep doing, often boring etc. As a mother I expect that getting up in the middle of the night with babies etc mustn’t have been a joy, despite how much you loved them!
    2. Why not find a Mass in your locality – where the communication may be a bit better – and ask your daughters to go there. It seems foolish to go off meat if the local butcher is a bore!
    I sympathise with you very much especially as once there was pressure on young people to go but now there is pressure on them to stay away.
    Peer pressure is everything at their age though the perspective tends to change with age and experience.
    Teenagers know a lot when they’re teenagers.
    The great tragedy is that the richness of the Catholic heritage will be lost to them but unless they have some structure; worse still an experience of God’s love which would empower, strengthen and comfort them at different times of their lives won’t survive.
    If it’s any consolation, you are not on your own.

  4. Be interesting to know what catches this mother’s attention and what she finds enthusiastic in some Masses. Would her daughters see the same. Don’t know about anyone else but I found it meaningless ritual and boring for a long time too and did not attend. It’s one of those things in life I wonder that life itself must teach us. Unless there are people who can teach what the Mass really is, might be about, effectively to young people.
    Just out of curiosity. How many priests here understand it in the same way ?
    Does it mean the same for each of us as individuals, cleric and lay – speak to each of us similarly. I love the Mass now. Because it has meaning for me as my own life unfolded. Though it’s taken 30 years and then some.
    I never have and would not seek to impose my beliefs on anyone. If the Mass really does have meaning, the fruits of that will be seen in our lives and witness to others. The threat of hell really was not a good way to get people to attend Mass. And using prayer as penance not good either. Prayer is a positive experience – communication, not a punishment for sin.
    I don’t know on this one. They used to offer ‘pop Masses’ but I think they died a death too. It’s enough these days to look at young children when they ask who God is. I start by asking about the love they feel for parents etc. That God is that very love. Then they get a hug and then they be what children are and ask, “Can I have a slushy now ?” Lol
    I can find, speak to God in a Mosque too though.
    This should be interesting.

  5. A good man here who shall remain nameless helped me understand the concept of ‘priesthood of all believers’. I was not going to Mass, did not feel comfortable with the Catholic Church and because I was not practicing, assumed myself no longer Christian either. He helped me see that any of us in whatever roles in life, mother, father, child, teacher, nurse, doctor etc etc – living lives of service for others are in that sense offering ourselves as ‘living sacrifices’ – emulating Christ and in a real way members of the wider priesthood. Some even daring to go where others fear to tread.
    I don’t know the theology of all of this, if any indeed, but do feel that people need to be helped to understand their role. Apart from anything else it allows for real spiritual growth and less dependence on already overstressed priests. This man, a lay person, in this way gave me an understanding of what it might mean to then participate in the Mass in a real way. Maybe there are lay people more able to teach this stuff. Which I think is part of what you are all about here. May you be heard and listened to.
    Just throwing out there.

  6. More of the Holy Spirit and not just at Consecration. Teens are hormonal time bombs – explosions of energy needing release. A relatively contemporary secular track had a lyric, “I believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem.” This was a hit speaking to young people around the world. So they know how false so much is and degrades rather than empowers. Jesus commands that you love your self. Sounds like a very empowering command to me – promoting self esteem to the highest, holiest degree. The human person the glory of God when fully alive.
    They are being robbed of self worth. The church has not been guilt free here either in the past. Crap teaching for wont of a better expression.
    How do we show young people what Jesus commanded – love of self. By loving them.
    If they wish to self express through music, dance, art – then allow this. I saw this with a group of young people in Derry a few years back. They were fantastic. Loads of things might be possible. But the adults need to get on board – parents too. Not leave all to clerics or teachers, youth, social workers – and if organized, discussed at parish level – then without the crap of power tripping. Working for the teenagers, not at being one. 🙂
    What’s it like in other parts of the world. I hear of youth festivals all the time. Like Sean said, maybe have one in Ireland somewhere – ask them.
    I know a young person who hears the Holy Spirt speak to her through this Donna Summer track. “Love’s about to change my heart.” And she believes God is Love and is experienced through the Holy Spirit, changing and healing ‘the heart of stone to one of flesh.’ Very savvy with the Word of God some younger non Catholic Christians. She was really being robbed of her self worth and in this instance Jesus got the blame instead of those who claimed to be following Him but must have got mixed up with the man at the bus stop.
    It’s upbeat and positive expression of energy too. More of an experience of Resurrection after Calvary – outside Mass if necessary. Interdenominational with the younger people too.
    The alternatives – destroying countless young people, children too, already – drink, drugs and sex. Get the Holy Spirit on board more.
    I can see and hear what she does in this too. I don’t think Gregorian would have the same impact in this instance but that does not mean it would not work in another context.
    With all the abuse too, it has to be taken on board that there might be a fear of getting ‘too involved’ and that is understandable also

  7. Cyril North says:

    When I was young, many decades ago, I could say the same thing. Mass was boring, priests seemed to just go through the motions without any spark of enthusiasm and the sermons were dry abstract drivel about suffering here on earth in expectation for a better after-life. This was true no matter what church you attended, with, perhaps, the odd exception.
    Nothing has changed ………. at all.

  8. Fergus Ryan says:

    I’m writing as a reasonably recently ordained priest who has experience of the Church in other countries too.
    It’s true that the quality of preaching is quite poor in Ireland, but not just in Ireland. If the standard of preaching is going to improve, it needs to be worked on in many ways and one of those – mentioned by Fr Michael Drumm in one of his talks at I think it was the Kildare & Leighlin Eucharistic Congress – is that priests must be encouraged. If they’re not – and if they’re criticised to their faces – they may well stop preparing at all or stop preaching altogether.
    The content and quality of the preaching depends on many factors, some of which can be improved: the preacher’s knowledge of theology and scripture, where he finds himself in his prayer life/spiritual life/faith journey/vocation, his ability to find something to say that is contemporary or related to the concrete situation of the particular Mass, his facility with the language and his ability to project his voice and use the sound system, the time he has for or gives to preparing his homily. Encouragement or words of appreciation of some aspect of a homily are necessary and may well help the priest to do more reflection on what he may say when preparing his homilies.
    A second aspect to the quality of preaching and addressing people is the practical difficulty of finding enough suitably qualified people to prepare a different talk each week that is related to the scripture readings at Mass, to have one at every Mass, and to have an acceptable standard. The quality of public speaking on TV or Radio is reasonably high but remember that this is always done on a larger scale. It’s easy to have higher quality most of the time when you only need fewer people to do the job. So millions of us can tune in to Marian Finucane and enjoy a high standard programme. It’s not possible to have a Marian Finucane in every little village hall in Ireland. But RTÉ allows the whole country to receive a very good quality service. At Mass, only the priest that is present is allowed to preach, and this is reasonable even for practical reasons. It establishes a certain amount of quality control with respect to theology and so on, but there are disadvantages.
    Finally, I wonder about the appreciation of the content of homilies. I’ve heard plenty that are so generic they could nearly pass for agnostic or athestic reflections. Perhaps this kind of reflection is appreciated by some people and they thank the priest for it, but preaching needs more than then general feel good life lessons – the kind one finds in greeting cards. If solid theology causes spiritual indigestion perhaps the problem is that the spiritual digestive system has been under used.
    As regards, the Mass in general, I’d like to make just two points.
    The first is that the way we celebrate Mass has become very much performance or didactical (teacher style). Our re-ordered sanctuaries resemble stages or the front of a lecture hall. There seem to be three rostra – the altar facing the people encourages the priest to use it as a place to address the congregation; the same is true of the ambo for the readings; and finally the presidential chair has become a third rostrum. All seem to be designed primarily for addressing the people – most of the time it is possible to have speaking notes and a microphone in front of the person using ambo, altar or chair, emphasising this further. I’m not proposing a change in those elements here, but I wish to draw attention to it – our churches have been turned into theatres/lecture halls.
    The second point on the celebration of Mass is related to the first point but slightly broader in approach. The manner of celebration we’ve adopted in Ireland doesn’t suit the liturgy itself. We sit and kneel for most of it whereas the traditional norm was standing and remains so (I think Pope Benedict, often quoted in support of kneeling, would be quite taken aback to see how much kneeling we do during Mass); we don’t sing very much; the priest doesn’t usually sing. There is often a boring drone or a lecture style of address throughout the Mass. Ritual worship – which is the kind of worship we have in the Catholic Church – is not meant to be like this. The closest example or “ritual” worshipthat works is the Eastern Orthodox style of worship. There is variety of expression through music; there is movement; there is the possibility of escape!; there is religious art to offer more variety; there is a moderate but beautiful middle way for the music. Irish people will sing when they’re helped by making it easy for them – we just gave up trying when the majority refused to budge from silence in the 70s/80s/90s. The cabaret style music is just dated at this stage – music that is “sacred” is making a resurgence elsewhere in the Catholic Church. Priests and other ministers in Ireland are slow to sing their parts – the stage-like sanctuaries which present them to the “audience” as some kind of Celtic tenors or basses don’t help their reluctance.
    There are plenty of other aspects to the difficulty people have with engaging with the celebration of Mass, but I propose just these two here.

  9. I have three friends in other parts of the world originally from other traditions. In the last couple of years all three have become members of the Catholic Church. This was shocking to me for a variety of reasons. Intelligent lads. I wondered what they could see that I might have lost sight of. Now had they joined numerous other churches I’d have understood it – but no they were coming to Rome. Was one of the things that made me look more to what I’d known as good and very helpful as a child and young person. And they all love the more “traditional” elements too. I was at “Adoration” earlier today and there were a few young people there at various times wanting the quiet, the listening ear, “the be still and “know”. I don’t envy anyone having to be all things to all people.
    For now it’s good to be back. You never miss the water till the well runs dry. We are commanded to seek with all we are. I don’t worry too much about where someone might go seeking having gone some strange places myself. Those who seek are promised the finding and in finding have all else besides.
    Was listening to a missionary priest the other day speak about Africa. The women and children walking miles for water and how often the women and female children are attacked and raped on the way to and back from the well.
    Sometimes makes me wonder – puts things in perspective.
    Maybe I am getting old too 🙂 I am starting to believe what my father told us, “You will walk the path laid out for you good and bad and what’s meant for you won’t go past you”. How that fits with “God’s will” and peace through resignation to that. Not a passive thing. Maybe if I find out it will rub off on someone else – even a younger person.
    I am wondering that we really do need to accept our own call to true conversion and if and when that happens – it will speak of itself. And that all of us are called to conversion – lay and cleric. The Good God can and does speak through anything and everything, and all people too, and all genres of music, art, literature. When the heart converts and can hear.
    Oh and the journalists too. They need conversion.
    Sorry, doesn’t help this mother really.

  10. Joe O'Leary says:

    The monopoly of the mass, aided still by mass stipends, is a huge problem. If people do not get over their hangups about this the church will sink deeper into stagnation. Communities of action, prayer, study with a moratorium on mass would be a healing thing.

  11. Hi
    I can understand that lady,s situation  as I too have been in that situation and still have younger children that I insist come to Mass each week.I don’t know what the answer is.  Just to go back  about 2  years ago, having gone through the Sunday struggle I got them all out to Mass  as usual. I took a look around at the congregation and saw very few teenagers in the church. I wrote to my parish priest and cc,d the remaining clergy outlining  the situation as I saw it. I  felt then and still do that young people are marginalised in our church today, that there is no  effort made to reach out to them in our parish, to evangelise them, to tell  them of God,s  love for them. I got a letter back, saying  training would be given to the laity to work in parish renewal and it was offered and I attended same. But we could not bring about the smallest change as I think collaborative working was  simply not yet possible in our parish.  Our parish priest is a very busy hard working man but in my view is not yet in a position to  embrace the vision of partnership and collaborative work with lay people. In the end  as there was nothing happening from my perspective I felt it necessary to step back. Once my eldest became 18 she no longer goes to mass. My  17, 15 and 12 year old do as there is no choice given. Unknown to my children I am struggling at times  too. I  simply say to them  on the way in to mass or whisper to them if i forget, to ask Gods forgiveness before communion for the things  they  have done wrong and  after communion  to welcome Jesus into  their hearts and ask him to help them for the week ahead. I hope this gives some meaning to why mass is important . I say it’s hard to understand but Jesus is there to help us in our everyday lives. I try to share with them  my faith by telling them of God,s personal love for them. Much of the time I fail miserably . I still don’t know whether it’s right or wrong to insist in Mass attendance. I do know there is more pressure from my younger ones, when the elder girl stopped going, with requests from them not to go. I  try to go to different Masses which I feel have something to offer to young people.  I am also conscious that the beauty of the Mass is not about the Priest but the sacrament. This can be hard to convey to kids or indeed to remember myself.
    This brings me to my next point, I came to know Jesus  in a personal way over 30 years ago as my God and saviour through catholic camps called Camp Jesus.  A different approach is needed now  in 2012 but  we need  some approach. I was also influenced greatly by deeply spiritual priests and lay people through my young adult life. One priest in particular  believed that Sunday mass was a gathering of people and should reflect where  people are at in their lives and that mass should be celebrated  reflecting this, if that makes sense. To me it made perfect sense and  therefore back in  the 1980,s in that  neglected community that I lived in where poverty, violence and mainly single parent families lived, he involved  as many as possible in the liturgy.  Sometimes a speaker that was relevant to the community would speak at the homily. We worked with him towards  making the Sunday mass relevant and meaningful to the every day struggles of the people’s lives. He knew these struggles very well as he was close to the community and many  people  started to come to church.Clearly  this parish was very different to many parishes and very different to my parish today. My point is that  each parish is different but the idea of the Mass  theme being relevant to peoples lives and struggles and involving the community gave life to the parish and in a sense  this priest was a  true Shepard  to us.
    I am also very much aware of  Priests in general, who must struggle ploughing a lonely furrow in our parishes today. It is surely a difficult  time  and I  can only try to imagine what it must be like, in terms of  being a priest in Ireland today. I take hope from the National Assembly which I attended and  look forward to the Munster assembly tomorrow.   For me in my live now this website is  an important and only dialogue about matters of faith. It’s not the stuff you talk about with friends. I  hope and pray for renewal ,compassion  inclusion and  leadership in  our church today. I have just signed in as  A Mother rather than my name, lest I cause anyone upset by my reflections.

  12. Raymond Hickey Bordine says:

    One of my favorite meditations is from the Jesuit priest, Teilhard de Chardin: “May the Risen Christ keep me young for God’s greater glory. Young, that is: smiling, optimistic, active and perceptive!” Folks, there is something radically wrong if we are losing the young.
    As someone who has worked with young people in various capacities for forty years, we need to listen very carefully to what they are saying. Pope John XXIII, when he initiated Vatican Council II told us to ‘heed the signs of the times’, get rid of the stuffiness and open the windows, and more importantly, listen to the world. We need to once more become ‘young’ in the way Chardin defined it above.
    When I was teaching teens, I used to have excuses for why they were not learning the academic material and getting poor grades; all those reasons I came up with put the blame on them. Then I saw firsthand how they poured themselves into something that they had an interest in; the problem is not with the kids, it is in our approach.
    It finally came to me [thank you Holy Spirit] that I needed to change my approach in the presentation of the curriculum. It was MY responsibility to have them learn, to make the material so interesting that they couldn’t resist it. Many of my colleagues insisted that it was the kids’ DUTY to learn because they were the STUDENTS. Their answer to the lack of learning was to give the student a failing grade. In my new understanding, and encouraged by a progressive headmaster, I came to understand that any failing grade of a student was MY failing grade.
    I too used to always look around at the members of the congregation; so few were young people. When I consider what was being offered to them, it was a minor miracle that they still came to the church. Young people are interested in a relationship with Jesus. They are not interested in rituals, rote prayer, and abstract dogma.
    At my high school, we had a group called ‘The Fellowship of Christian Athletes”. I broadened the definitions to include ‘anyone’; you need not be Christian, you need not be an active athlete. If you liked watching sports on TV, you qualified. All you needed to have was the desire to hang out with other kids and talk about stuff that was on your mind. I co-sponsored this group with a young man who was a student-teacher, learning how to be a teacher. This program flourished, doubled and tripled in numbers and in the amount of time allotted for it. It wasn’t because the two co-sponsors were so fantastically gifted, it was because we knew what the kids were interested in and we knew how to direct those interests towards Jesus. They all understood relationships, they all understood acceptance, they all understood kindness, and they all understood friendship with their peers. How could we miss with that combination; we offered them the presence of Jesus, the Christ. We didn’t preach except by example towards one another, we didn’t recite rote prayers, but we did pray spontaneously with the respect and attention of each other. Through various activities and events, we learned about one another, through discussions, we accepted one another. We were a Christian community focused on Jesus. It’s not the kids’ fault that they are not at church, we adults and Christian leaders need to change our techniques. What worked in the Middle Ages is not going to work in the modern age. It’s as simple as that.

  13. Great thoughts mother. Another mother my sister feels with you. Seems like everyone is struggling with something. God bless you and the children and all others here.

  14. This prodigal is starting to wonder what he’s returned to. Confusion reigns. If the adults can’t sort themselves out I don’t know how the ‘children’ are expected to do so. How do you teach something you don’t understand yourself !? Maybe cannot understand if this God is real and truly infinite.
    A relationship with Jesus seems like a good idea. Trying to figure out what that means now too.
    Did it work in the Middle Ages ? Or was it fear that worked ?
    Starting to like what mother Teresa suggested. The Jesus in my heart seeking the Jesus in yours. Maybe have to find the Jesus within first. And what helps build such relationships – use it.
    Time to hug a tree or two. 😉

  15. Con Carroll says:

    having a sense of humor is important
    1.empowering youth to worship in a manner which they would see inclusive welcoming challenging
    2. Eucharist in the style of Creation Spirituality. Matthew Fox
    3. remember there was a woman, who is a member of a religious order. minister of the Eucharist. contributed to the Eucharist in Wicklow. celebrant was not available
    4. been open and imagnitive, welcoming non ordained people to celebrate

  16. Raymond Hickey Bordine says:

    I must say I agree completely with Kevin and Con. Why was Jesus so determined to let the children come to him when his ‘apostles’ tried to stop them? Why the remark of Jesus ‘to become like little children’? Recently we had a terrible division here in our school district that divided the community between the school administrators and the students. The students were so incensed by the injustice of the school board and how they had fired a high school administrator known for his fairness for all and favoritism for none, that they [the students] walked out en masse. A local newspaper reporter wrote an editorial titled: “When it comes to matters of trust, trust the kids.” It looks like he understood what Jesus understood.
    I think that we adults need to start listening to the kids when it comes to matters of trust; another name for trust is faith. I think that is why Jesus was so protective of the ‘little ones’ and so angry and scornful about the Scribes and Pharisees. I think the point that Jesus was making: listen to the youth, they have not been jaded by power and corrupted by greed, control and domination, phony airs and pomposity. Let them come to me: become like them!
    Jesus constantly told us to be servants to those in need; he warned us never to lord it over others, ‘whatever you do to the least, you do to me’. Young people can smell a phony ten miles away. I suspect that the reason they stay away from the RCC is because they know it has little to do with the Jesus they are yearning for. Their Jesus, and hopefully ours, rejected wealth, power, status, and dominance over others [whether males or females]. Their Jesus was open to ALL individuals and welcomed all without having a checklist on individuals before acceptance. Their Jesus did not require loyalty oaths to the Magisterium but rather disdained legalism and dogmatism.
    And now we adults are shocked and distressed that the young stay away. They stay away because they are still open, honest, and sincere and know that Jesus is not here! The problem is not with the young, but with us adults. Harden not your hearts, listen to the ‘little ones’, they speak the truth in its original form before it can be twisted and crushed by the adults to serve their purposes. If you have ‘little ones’, you are blessed, listen to them. Yes, that certainly includes teenagers!

  17. Carol Dorgan says:

    I sympathise with those who say the Mass is boring. I have often asked myself over the years, why do so many people still go, rather than why do so many not go. When I lived in a certain parish in north Dublin, a neighbouring PP met weekly with a small group of parishioners to read and reflect on the following Sunday gospel and from that he prepared his homily. I offer this as a suggestion to priests “out there”.This small group could obviously include young people as well – if there are any! But I also believe that the Mass belongs to us all, and if it’s boring (it often is!) then I and others should really get together with the celebrant and see what we can do together to make it less so!

  18. Six days given to the Creation and the seventh for rest – to enjoy the Creation. I was reading about ecological issues on another thread. That we need to develop a greater bond with and respect for all creation. I think Bernard of Clairvaux or one of those people suggested that when we feel distanced from God, to get closer again through the creation, getting hands in the soil. Plant something, nurture – help it grow.
    The commandment is something about keeping holy the Sabbath day. Maybe there are other ways to be holy that day. Iraneus suggested a way of God being glorified was in the human person being fully alive.
    Learning to reverence what we can see might help us show greater reverence to what cannot be seen. Jesus did suggest that if we cannot love what we can see then there will be no loving what cannot be seen.
    Maybe mix a little bit of science with religion and listen to the children go, “cooooool.” It has taken me 30 years to get to the place where I can love the Mass and really get into it. To do that I had to learn to seek and find God everywhere outside the Catholic Church, the God who spoke to me often through creation, even other religions and all the rest. The challenge then was to find God again in that place I started, which is happening – and I thank God wholly for bursting the catholic box I was raised in, and helped me begin look a truly Catholic, Universal relationship with that God inside, outside and through all of it.
    Helping the young reverence themselves and each other however that might be done. As people suggest – maybe a short verse from Scripture to look at and explore. Just a line. A commandment even. It can all seem, be very boring and negative. Often seemed so in the past. Four years ago I started looking at the Scriptures for myself – just asking for some light, inspiration. The world can in various ways teach self hate/loathing, which is a great deal of what sin is about. The human person not fully alive. Then I had one of those jump off the page at you moments. Jesus gave a commandment, a great commandment at that….. to, “love your self !” This is how holiness in realized in us – imaging God and learning to look for that same image in all other human beings.
    I read years ago in that book called, The Imitation, a line – “I will open up for you the green pastures of the Scriptures……” The day I understood what Jesus commanded in saying….. “Love your self” – those pastures began to open up far and wide. When they speak they really speak. Even today I understand in the readings at Mass the call to conversion of the heart which leads to the love of the self, the neighbor and God’s Glory.
    Love them. Show them the beginnings of the love of God. One day at a time, one line at a time, one word at a time if necessary. Same as they do teaching young children reading skills.
    The Mass might take care of itself and maybe then really become the “highest prayer of the Church.” I have to go now and find out what that means. I would not ‘freak out’ if they are not going to something wholly dead to them. They are honest. Other ways to keep holy the Sabbath ?
    Moses and that lot had to wander through deserts for decades too. Seems it’s par for the course.
    May the Holy Spirit illuminate all our hearts and souls and thank God I didn’t need Latin to hear God speak.
    Aramaic is far more pleasing to the ear ;-).

  19. This video was composed by a young Christian.
    There is a very good choir at one of our churches and I know the girl leads it and am going to ask about something like this.
    And didn’t one of the popes speak about using technology ? Some audio visual can really stimulate the younger mind. At the very least might compete with X Factor 😉
    I’ve heard it suggested that the ‘Novus Ordo’ is all about the people and not the worship of God. It’s all about how we feel. Well of course it would be. We are human beings – not a collective like the Borg. And if anyone says that Latin and more ‘traditional’ musical arrangements are not also about creating some spiritual, emotional reaction, I’d refuse to believe.
    This young man or woman has made good use of Scripture too. Be interesting at end of the Mass perhaps. Let the Holy Spirit plant a word, sentence in the heart of a young, even older person and let it take root and grow.
    I am very much into silence and deep reverence too. But as said somewhere else, “all good things come down from the Father of lights.” Throw the doors, windows or whatever it was open.
    Sometimes, all we need is the air that we breathe and to love…

  20. PS I should clarify something here perhaps. I said that I looked for God everywhere outside the Catholic Church cause for a long time I could not find God there for various reasons. But the truth for me now is the realization that I did not leave the Catholic Church at all as it is TRULY UNIVERSAL, Cosmic even, as Christ is Christ and God is God. It is a very great thing to know this truth cause it liberates, sets free. Paul tells us that in love there is no fear. God is Love. All in all. Transcendent and immanent. Everywhere. Seek and the promise is we shall find. And the map is drawn in the heart – the Kingdom of God is within. And I would suggest to good parents that they not stress too much. Pray and believe your prayers are heard and will be answered in God’s way and time. Prayer is like life blood to our spirits, communicating with God who is Spirit and Truth. Taken me all this time to begin to understand that too. Better late than never though. I have a friend who is priest in Canada and worked with the Native Americans and was telling me how they incorporate their culture into the Mass and spiritual practice of the Catholic Church. How it should be. Diversity – life giving. Maybe we need to look more at our own culture too.
    It’s the same Creator – God. Great Spirit that is pure and truth. I’ve been stoned for worse. Lol
    There are variations on these commandments – but the same spirit of truth and love. We all need to learn to love more and kick fear out those open windows/doors. Of course these are my own thoughts and not gospel according to the Vatican.

  21. Brett Page says:

    I don’t hold out much hope for the Mass surviving as a form of worship. The Australian Bishops commissioned a piece of work in 2008 (Dixon) to try and establish why Catholics stopped going to Mass and what would bring them back. It was heavy on questions but very light on meaningful answers. The enquiry leveraged off previous studies which have found that if the father does not attend Mass regularly there is a very, very small chance that his children will be regular attenders, even if the mother goes every Sunday. And the Mass just doesn’t appeal to men, meaning that in my country at least (Australia) it’s doomed.
    I’m a 53 year old man who was raised Catholic but stopped attending Mass the minute the clock ticked over midnight on my 18th birthday. I’ve never been back and don’t intend to. My three children attended Catholic colleges and reecived very good educations, including a solid grounding in practical Christian values around social justice. Which, at the end of the day, is far more important than a weekly ritual which is predictable, uninspiring and irrelevant to to the problems facing people in our contemporary world.
    Last year I endured a 90 minute school Mass at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral at which the Archbishop of Melbourne presided. Here was a golden opportunity for the leading Catholic in our city to say something meaningful to a captive audience (there under pain of a Satuday detention if they were absent, which kind of says somethinng as well) of 700 Catholic students. Something they could take away and recall years later. He blew it. Rather than touching on issues confronting young people now such as how we treat refugees coming to our shores, the growing gap between rich and poor in our wealthy nation, the environental rape of the Earth’s resources by greedy capitalists and spocial justice issues like health care reform or a more equitable tax system, he prattled on about who-knows-what to the stage that even some adults were driven to distraction. He enjoyed it, though. As did the other four celebrants who gave the impression that the day was all about them and the grand stage show of which they were a part.

  22. The reason it’s boring is because they are struggling with their lives and thinking how the church can help them, but are coming out feeling like they got nothing. No one is teaching them how to survive all their struggles. I think mass is important, but it’s not really educational. Like, we go to church for the symbolism and ceremony, but then come out of it, not knowing what Christianity is all about. I can’t even remember what they were preaching about because it is spoken monotone language and then speaking it as if everyone understood what they were talking about and if not they were sinners, and took 30 minutes to deliver. They shouldn’t change mass, they should start having more classes to teach the public and people how to practice catholicism, how to implement it in daily lives, explain what is easter, lent, etc. Many Catholics don’t know basic stuff about the bible, about the difference between being a catholic and a protestant, they just go to church and go home, thinking they’ve done good just doing that.

  23. We should learn from protestants. They take responsibility for teaching people about the bible and how it deals with life. No one is so eager to do that in the Catholic church, it’s just like, you are all alone and you just have to google it. why is it that other religions are so active in trying to teach their members what their religion is all about, from kids to elderly, but in Catholicism, everyone just leaves you alone like you are supposed to know it already since you were born and if not your a sinner.

  24. Linda, Derry says:

    OurLady said “Close your ears and minds to the din of voices which lead you to confusion, MY voice alone you will listen to”. Tonight on Radio Ave Maria, whose mission and motto is ” A Christian voice in your home”, Fr.Francis instructed that it is “vitally important”, ” crucial” to fast from worldly bombardment of our minds by fasting from relentless negative media influence and noise, using the time to peacefully prayerfully cultivate a personal relationship with Christ in preparation for mass attendance, persevere in attending and ask Jesus for help. He WILL help you. I don’t find Mass, being spiritually present at Calvary, boring at all. Scandals and gossip are boring, church politics is boring, those who attempt to usurp the place of Jesus and Our Lady are boring, but Jesus is never ever boring 🙂

  25. Linda@24,
    I have to admit, if the celebration of the Mass is not conducted properly, it can be a bore. If I can`t hear what the Lectors say, or can`t hear the priest, or if he rushes through the Mass carelessly as if in a hurry to get out of the church, it can be a bore for any member if not all of the congregation.
    Church politics is just about striving for the best church we can mould. So rather than being boring, it may be as frustrating to the idealist, and as full of dirty-dealing and duplicity as any other kind of politics. Often too like secular politics, it`s hope-killing. But since it`s about the exercise of power in the world we actually live in it`s rarely boring.
    When I`m here, I`d like to ask you about that quotation from Mary. When and where did Mary “say” what you quoted her as saying? Or are you quoting someone who was “quoting” her?

  26. Linda, Derry says:

    @mjt: Regarding the quotation, it’s Our Lady’s instructions for her ‘Marian Movement of Priests’, what Our Lady calls her ‘Red and White army’, given to Fr. Don Stefano Gobbi. I strongly recommend that you follow up your query, if sincere, by contacting your local bishop or FrRoland Colhoun or Fr DanielMcFaul in the Derry diocese for what is known as ‘The Blue Book’. On finding the mass boring, whilst what you say is to a certain extent understandable, my advice would be try not to judge the priest and focus as best you can on the real presence of Christ, perhaps praying for both yourself AND the priest.Regarding the politics, they are both quite boring if you aren’t interested in power grabbing and both require prayer for those involved. God Bless 🙂

  27. Linda @26, Of course I`m sincere. How could you doubt it?
    But even at their least edifying, I wouldn`t call church politics just about powergrabbing. It`s more about people being engaged in an attempt to fashion the church after thir own vision of church, which is why there are so many of these boring arguments, when people try to persuade others to see things as they do. You can see it in action even on this site, across a whole range of issues, among them being the examination of the basis for our beliefs and practices, liturgy, the nature of priesthood, the governance of the church, the role of women and the place of Mary in our devotions.

  28. Hi there! I’ve just come across your post and I can certainly relate to your frustration. I’ve been a Christian for 3 years and got converted to Christ at a late age. I sometimes don’t feel at ease in some communities because I’m often the youngest to attend! I also found mass extremely dull.
    So I even decided to cross the Tiber and see if the grass was greener elsewhere. I have a very good Evangelical friend who helped me get back on track and realize how I needed to have a more Biblical approach. Naturally out of curiosity I wanted to see what it was like in an Evangelical church. Despite the music and the much more modern approach, I somehow didn’t feel at ease. Especially when people took communion – I did it but there was something missing. What I didn’t know is that Evangelicals didn’t believe it was the real body and blood of Christ. They were great people don’t get me wrong but it just didn’t feel right.
    Now I still haven’t found the right community and the Catholic Church needs to be shaken up a little, however nothing compares to the Eucharist. That’s the reason I’m sticking to the Catholic Church and that’s the reason I go to mass. I know this may not seem really Christian but I take no notice of the parishioners nor of the priest’s droning. I rise up when I take the Eucharist and then go back home. I think we should remember priests are humans and sometimes their homelies can lack enthusiasm but I think we must focus on the Eucharist. That’s what holds us together.

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