Today, there are more ways for us to be entertained than ever before. With such a plethora of choices, it’s easy for us to always be looking for that which excites us the most. When that high begins to wane a bit, it’s quite easy for us to press a button to partake in something even more entertaining than before.
This mentality increasingly relates to our life of faith as well. When we go to prayer, especially at church, we desire for it to be somewhat entertaining. We seek good music, decoration, preaching and an engaging congregation at Mass. But when these elements are not present or we begin to lose interest in them, it can be hard to motivate our family — or even ourselves — to go to Mass.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in writing on this question, related a story of a man who grew up in a family that always had Sunday dinner that the whole family had to attend. When he was young, it was quite an experience because the food was so good, and his dad, who worked most days, was there for dinner. This made it an event. After he got married and had his family, he brought them home every Sunday for this dinner. As his kids grew up, they found this dinner to be a boring event. What he pointed out to them was that they were looking for the wrong thing. The dinner was about the love of being gathered around the table as a family, not just the food or the company.
Even when we find Mass to be uninteresting or even boring, God still calls us to His table on Sunday out of love. At every Mass, God renews the greatest act of love: the death of His Son for us on Good Friday. In the Eucharist, He invites us to receive the fruits of this sacrifice so that we can give ourselves away in love during the week.
Mass, then, is not about us. It is about our relationship with God.
If we find Mass boring, then, the first question to ask is “How is my relationship with God? Am I praying on a regular basis? What is this prayer like? Am I truly open to God working in me and in my life or are there areas that are closed to Him?”
Going to confession is a good way to begin to safely ask these questions and receive God’s grace to help get my prayer to where God and I want it to be.
Another thought is to read the readings before Sunday and to listen to commentaries or homilies about it. There is so much in the readings each week that an 8-10 minute homily does not begin to scratch the surface. Seeking out these reflections and bringing them to Mass to pray about can be a great way to make Mass more meaningful.
This column appeared in a previous edition of the Review.
Father Mayo is pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in south St. Louis.