Why is the Mass So Boring? | Prime Matters

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

For many of us, the Mass can be more a chore than a source of strength and delight. That can leave us troubled and wondering what is wrong: Maybe God is boring? Maybe I am boring?

Every Christian knows that we need to pray, to find a way to be in contact with God. Every Catholic knows that the Mass is the most important kind of prayer that there is. The Catholic author Flannery O’Connor once wrote: “The Eucharist is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable” (The Habit of Being). J.R.R. Tolkien, also a devout Catholic, wrote about the Eucharist in a letter to his son Michael who was fighting at the front in 1940:

“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament… There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires”(Letters).

It is beautiful to see the impressive place the Mass has been given through the centuries, and the love for it that has been experienced by great souls. But that very fact can cause a certain unease. Many of us can find the Mass less than fully engaging. We may attend with a good will and make sure that we “fulfill our Sunday obligation.” But going to Mass can be more a chore for us than a source of strength and delight. That can leave us troubled and wondering what is wrong: Maybe God is boring? Maybe I am boring? Maybe I am very unholy and that’s why I don’t find this interesting? Maybe the people who put this Mass together were boring? Maybe if the ceremony were perked up and made more lively and entertaining it would fix the problem?

The truth lies elsewhere. Setting aside the obvious problems that plague the liturgy when it is badly or unfaithfully celebrated in which case there is an objective difficulty that needs to be addressed, it can be said that the Mass is inevitably and even purposely uninteresting for those who don’t participate in it.

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Why is the Mass So Boring? | Prime Matters

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