Bored at Mass?
Bored at Mass? by Fr. John Harris
Do you ever get bored at Mass or do you hear people complaining that the priest is boring? Usually when I am faced with such complaints I ask, “what do you do when you go to Mass?” This always causes a certain unease because most people don’t think they have to do anything. Not so!
Life is not worth living
A few weeks ago I visited a man who is now confined to bed for the rest of his life. For years he had been going to Mass daily and when he came to terms with being an invalid, the hardest thing he had to deal with was missing daily Mass. He told me he felt life was not worth living. But then he said he had discovered the Divine Mercy Chaplet. He said to me that when he says those “wonderful words”, “Eternal Father I offer you the body, blood, soul and divinity of your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world” he knows that he is united with the Holy Mass.
Giving meaning to suffering
He said he now feels that he can participate in the Holy Mass from his bed whenever he so desires. He never gets bored at Mass. He knows that we are all invited by Jesus to unite ourselves with His offering of himself to His Father for the redemption of the world. His suffering now has meaning because it is united to the suffering of Jesus. From his bed he knows he is helping the renewal of the Church and saving souls.
Closer to Jesus through the Eucharist
The Pope, when he spoke at the recent International Eucharist Congress in Dublin, reminded us of this very point. He reminded us all that the Second Vatican Council wished to promote the full and active participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic sacrifice. He commented that “it is clear that a great deal has been achieved; but it is equally clear that there have been many misunderstandings and irregularities.” Pope Benedict said that by changing the liturgy, for instance by putting it into English instead of Latin, the Church intended to make it easier for us to enter into the inner depth of the mystery. He reminded us that the true purpose of the liturgy “was to lead people to a personal encounter with the Lord, present in the Eucharist, and thus with the living God, so that through this contact with Christ’s love, the love of his brothers and sisters for one another might also grow.”
But he said this has not always happened and that very often the way we attend the Holy Mass has remained at an external level, and “active participation” has been confused with external activity. So now we feel part of the Mass only if we are doing something, reading, distributing Holy Communion, singing etc. but the Pope reminds us that that is not enough. We are called to go much deeper by uniting ourselves to Jesus in his offering of Himself in love to the Father for the salvation of the world. As the Pope said to us gathered in Croke Park, “in a changed world, increasingly fixated on material things, we must learn to recognize anew the mysterious presence of the Risen Lord, which alone can give breadth and depth to our life”.
The Challenge to every Catholic
Pope Benedict XVI placed a challenge before us all: “The Eucharist is the worship of the whole Church, but it also requires the full engagement of each individual Christian in the Church’s mission; it contains a call to be the holy people of God, but also one to individual holiness; it is to be celebrated with great joy and simplicity, but also as worthily and reverently as possible; it invites us to repent of our sins, but also to forgive our brothers and sisters; it binds us together in the Spirit, but it also commands us in the same Spirit to bring the good news of salvation to others.”
Participating in the Sacrifice of Christ
The man confined to his bed realises what the Pope is asking of us all. He is asking us to truly celebrate the Mass in our communion with Jesus. When we go to Mass, we are not to be spectators, standing at the side line. At the Holy Mass, the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary is being made sacramentally present by the activity of the ordained priest so that we can be part of this offering. We are to enter into the love of Christ for His Father and for the world and by our reception of Holy Communion, we are being fed with this new life of love. As St. Faustina says so beautifully in her Diary, “O Jesus, I sense keenly how Your divine Blood is circulating in my heart; I have not the least doubt that Your most pure love has entered my heart with Your most sacred Blood. I am aware that You are dwelling in me. Together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, or rather I am aware that it is I who am living in You…I am aware that I am dissolving in You like a drop in an ocean, I am aware that You are in me and all about me”. (Diary 478)
At the Foot of the Cross with Mary
I once asked a priest who was scripture scholar why was it that in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke there is no mention of Our Blessed Lady being present at the foot of the Cross while St. John places her firmly there. He said that the first three mention those who were there as witnesses, they were standing by and taking the whole scene in, but Mary was not there as a witness she was fully uniting herself with Jesus’ offering. She was to a degree praying “Eternal Father I offer you the body, blood, soul and divinity of your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ…” That is how we should attend Mass, we should be like Mary at the foot of the cross, fully uniting ourselves with Jesus and not simply looking on as spectators.
How can we be bored?
The man confined to his bed praying his Divine Mercy Chaplet is more united with Mary and Jesus at Mass than most of us who take it all for granted and just attend Mass and don’t participate in the inner activity of the Mass, by giving ourselves over completely to God in a prayer of loving trust. If we fully give ourselves with Jesus at the Holy Mass, how can we ever be bored?