Mass is Boring
|Does this look boring to you?|
It begins with an honest and accurate appraisal of the situation as we all know it. Confirmation = The Sacrament of exit. My experience is that, although I do my best, the majority of them have already given up on the faith by this point. When we reduce the faith to another noisy "youth" thing (as we see it) we reduce its value to simply another "thing" competing for attention in an already over competitive world.
But the faith is valuable because it is truth, all we really need do is have confidence in its majesty and authority and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit. As I said yesterday, if it is authentic, young people will quickly discern that. In the Herald, Pastor Iuventus writes:
While the introduction of evening and vigil Masses may have been intended for those who work on Sunday morning, we have lost our sense of Sabbath, of a Day of the Lord, different in character from the rest of the week, a time to prioritise worship as what gives shape and meaning to our week. To encourage children regularly to fit Mass around shopping, social or sporting commitments is already to cede its priority.
How does one engage with the teenage mantra that Mass is boring? I usually start by agreeing, and pointing out that cleaning your teeth every night is boring, but that is no reason not to do it. They are, of course, right in many cases. The average Sunday Mass in the parish takes 40 minutes to get to the Offertory, and that time is largely an exercise in listening to readings or preaching.
I suggest that the teenager is challenged to experience a quiet, low, weekday Mass, which is less than half the length, and has a more intimate atmosphere. Sometimes the resistance to Sunday Mass might not be just that of teenage disaffection. It is possible that they are reacting as consumers who have become jaded by community-focused horizontal liturgy, indifferent preaching and bad music. Encourage them to try other Masses or preachers. In London especially one can find liturgy to suit all tastes: it is possible to “shop around”. Not ideal, but fully justified if it helps their practice.I have always told my children that Mass is the "critical minimum" for us as Catholics. It forms the essential dimension to our identity as a family. Boring? I can see that, but you do not go to be entertained. This is the false dichotomy that so confused me as a young man. Mass with the Youth Service was so different to Mass in my Parish. The latter seemed worthless by comparison and I grew bored. That is until someone explained to me why we go. Not so for our entertainment, but for our benefit, because we were made for worship of the Holy Trinity, and in worshiping the Holy Trinity we experience the closest we can come to completeness on this earth.
Hearing how important the Mass is, hearing how much it is loved by so many all helped to develop my understanding and attachment to the Mass. If you want your children to go to Mass, you must teach them to love it! Don't try to change the Mass- try to change your heart!
"The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the altar. If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens at the altar. Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass." —Pope St. Pius X