Now, let me offer this disclaimer: I do not find the Mass boring. The Mass is the intermingling of heaven and earth, where the body of Christ (both the heavenly and earthly Church) meet the Body of Christ (in the true presence of the Eucharist). That is nothing short of miraculous and stirring to my soul.
I know that, to non-Catholics (and even some Catholics), there is a perception that the Mass is an incredibly dry experience. Without the benefit of understanding all that we understand, there are those who look at the mass and see nothing but empty ritual.
The point of my post, “Why is the Catholic Mass so Boring?” was to offer a contrast between the Catholic Mass, which is focused on us, as Church, putting ourselves in a place of humility and worship before Christ, and many Protestant services, which are often focused on entertainment and the question, “what did I ‘get’ out of that.’”
In the weeks since that post went live, it has quickly become the second most viewed post in the history of the site, having been viewed by over 450 unique visitors (these are good numbers for my lowly site). Looking back through day to day stats, there are people hitting the post almost every day from Google and other search sites by typing in searches like “Catholic mass boring.”
Most of the visitors that find the site that way never have anything to say. They read and they leave. A couple of weeks ago, however, I walked out of mass to find a notification of this comment:
You can tell yourself that Mass is not boring but the fact it is, it will suck the spirit right out of you. God’s ways and the learning of God’s ways and the better practice of God’s ways is NOT boring. If the Catholic Church doesn’t learn that there are new and better ways to present God, their membership will continue to decline. Catholics (and I am a reluctant one looking for a new spiritual home) seem to think that if it’s not boring, it must be false. Break out of the dark ages, come into today’s world where God is patiently waiting for you.
I thought for a long time about how I should respond to this person. My initial reaction was to latch on to the words “suck the spirit right out of you.” Those words seemed so harsh to me but I didn’t know how to respond to them.
Then, reading the comment again and again, I had a moment of clarity. I read, “If the Catholic Church doesn’t learn that there are new and better way to present God, their membership will continue to decline,” and suddenly I thought, “Wait a second… who is the ‘Catholic Church’ this person is addressing?”
You see, there is a tendency by non-Catholics and Catholics alike to think about the Catholic Church as the Magisterium, the priests, bishops, cardinals and Pope that make up the formal hierarchy of the Church. When we do that, it’s easy to stand back and say, “the Church should be doing this better,” or, “the Church should be doing that better.” And yet, this very criticism is rooted in the failure of our own understanding… the realization that you and I are the church and, if you recognize something that needs to be done, maybe it’s God who’s calling YOU to do it.
I think you have to love and appreciate the line in the final line of my visitor’s comment, “Break out of the dark ages, come into today’s world where God is patiently waiting for you.” I couldn’t help but offer this in response:
YOU BE THE CHURCH… and bring the light of Christ and the fullness of faith to people in ways that are interesting and creative.
That’s the call to the “new evangelization” that JP II has issued and Pope Benedict XVI has echoed. God is patiently waiting for you to be a part of the solution.
That’s the call for you and me, to be a part of the Church that is living and active, not sitting around and casting stones and thinking of things that should be done better. We vivify the Church as the Holy Spirit vivifies us. Any stones cast at “the Church” are squarely aimed at ourselves.