"Why is Mass so boring?" How many times have you heard your children say these words in that, “nails on a chalkboard” whiny voice? How many times, dare I ask, have you thought them to yourself? I will honestly admit that I have had this same thought many, many times during my life.
I despised Mass when I was growing up and I couldn’t imagine a more boring place to be. As a matter of fact, when I think back on going to Mass as a kid, I am sad to say I really have only one distinct memory.
Yep, that is the hat hook on the back of the pew. It was the only thing that kept me from dying of boredom as I played with it during what seemed like an endless droning of music, words and "exercise" (standing & kneeling) that is also known as the Mass.
Some of you who know me may be shocked by this confession. I certainly would be. Maybe some of you can relate to my experience. I will also tell you that my early adult years were anything but stellar when it came to Mass attendance. Once I moved out of my parent’s home, I was gone! I was a grown up so, "Why would I waste my time with Mass?"
BUT- something kept drawing me back. It was a quiet force that kept nudging me and pulling me in. I now know that it was the Holy Spirit. Things began to change, but it didn't happen overnight. Honestly, the change in my heart occurred over the span of many years. But change it did! I won’t go into the details of the transformation in this post, but the short story is- I found Jesus!
And now? I love the Mass! I love being Catholic! On Sunday morning, I can’t wait to go to Mass and I am giddy with excitement! I will ask my husband if we can go early and he will usually oblige. He doesn’t have quite the same enthusiasm, but he is getting there.
I am writing this with the hope that what I have learned might help someone else become more excited about Mass. I also have a few tips for paying attention and staying focused. We are human after all, and our concentration naturally wanders when there is a distraction like a screaming child or a passing thought of lunch. I struggle with it myself. Here is what has helped me:
*Educate yourself – I grew up going to religion classes, but I wasn’t taught what the Mass was really about. I didn’t know why we did certain actions or said different prayers. Inform yourself and learn. There are some absolutely amazing things that are happening during the Mass. Don’t be in the dark.
A book that I really like is A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, by Dr. Edward Sri. Find a book that explains the Mass at whatever level you are at. Don’t be afraid to ask your priest questions. I’m sure he will be thrilled that you are trying to learn.
*Believe- What do you believe? I want you to really think about this. Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. Truly present, right there on the Altar! If you find yourself doubting, educate yourself on the teachings of the church or better yet, check out some stories of Eucharistic Miracles. This one about the miracle in Buenos Aires will blow you away. There was a time that I struggled with my own belief in the true presence, but I don’t anymore, and it has changed how I experience Mass. My belief has impacted me so much that I was inspired to write and produce this song.
*Pray –This seems fairly obvious. However, I’m not referring exclusively to prayer during Mass, although you should be doing that too. I mean pray-EVERY SINGLE DAY! Get used to spending time with Jesus and making Him a natural part of your life. Once you do, Mass will take on a new meaning and you will be coming to see a beloved friend (Jesus) when you attend Mass.
*Close your eyes – No, I don’t mean take a nap! If there is movement in the church or you are distracted by that bright yellow shirt across the aisle, close your eyes. Think about the fact that you are in the presence of God. Picture Him there with you and focus your attention on Him. Pray, ask God to help you with your distraction and make you more aware of His presence.
For you ladies, I want to tell you that wearing a veil is a powerful experience during Mass. I call it my "Jesus tent." I was terrified when I felt the Lord was asking me to veil. My parish is not a place where women veil. My husband wasn’t on board either. Eventually, I felt the urge so strongly that I didn’t care what anyone else thought and I began to veil. I will never go back.
As you attend Mass, remember that the Lord delights in you. He loves your efforts. If you find yourself becoming distracted, draw yourself back in. If you leave the church wondering what just happened or if you are feeling like you didn’t “get anything out of it,” take a good look at what you are “putting into it.” Because, what you put into it, could possibly make all of the difference in the world.
This blog post is part of the Catholic Women Blog Network’s monthly blog hop. To learn more and to read how other women stay focused during Mass, please click HERE.