Photo courtesy Pixabay.
I’m returning from a prolonged hiatus from the BaptiCatholic. My apologies to those who wait with bated breath for each of my posts (insert sarcasm). As I pondered what should be the next topic to tackle, my mind took me to reasons why people reject the notion of becoming Catholic. One reason, which I know all too well as a convert and Catholic school teacher, has to do with the Catholic Mass. The grievances usually sound something like this…
“I don’t get anything out of it, it’s the same thing every time, it’s soooo boring!”
In this post, I will endeavor to answer some of these common complaints and give reasons why I believe Mass should be the single most important event you pencil into your weekly schedule. Ready? Let’s go!
1. I don’t get anything out of it
I’ll start with this objection because the others are usually settled, partially at least, when this one has been addressed. First of all, it’s important to ask a question. What is the “anything” which you do not receive by going to Mass? From my experience, this usually either means that the person did not feel intellectually or emotionally catered to during the Mass. Coming from a Baptist and non-denominational Protestant background, I understand full well what this can imply. Perhaps the music was off beat, the cantors couldn’t sing a note, and the homily was unimpressive. From this perspective, leaving a service without having had some emotional reawakening or an intellectual challenge signals a deficiency on the part of the service attended. Indeed, if this were the focus of the Mass, and it did not meet up to the standard, I could not blame folks for up and leaving. As it turns out, however, the Mass is something more complex.
The Mass, ultimately, is not about you. That is, when the Catholic faithful gather together to celebrate the Mass, they do not come (or should not) seeking to be captivated and moved by music and good preaching (even though these things help). Don’t get me wrong, I love, and often miss, the singing and teaching of my Protestant days, but those things pale in comparison to what the Mass provides: the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. When Catholics partake in communion, they literally feast on the body and blood of their Lord. What music or sermon could possibly compete with that?
2. Mass is boring/repetitive.
Why would I go to mass when the non-denominational church down the road has strobe lights, loud music, and cup holders for my latte? Indeed, on the surface of things it does seem hard for the Catholic Mass to keep step with other church services which pull out all the stops to attract visitors. It’s hard to fault someone who, when comparing churches side by side, decide to choose church X because it has a better youth ministry than the local Catholic Church.
The solution? See answer to problem #1. In all seriousness, a shift in how one sees and understands the Eucharist (Holy Communion) is, in my opinion, the ultimate solution to this problem. Would you be so bored at mass if you truly believed Jesus were there, waiting to nourish you with his very body? Would you obsess about the cantor that sang out of tune or the homily that was less than satisfying? Your answer, if I am right, would be a resounding no! Now, am I saying that I am always at the edge of my seat during mass? Not quite. Between managing two young children and fighting temptations to daydream, I also fall prey to distraction. Thankfully, however, my deficiencies do not take away from the incredible mystery that lays at the heart of the mass; no matter how distracted, frustrated, or bored I may become, Jesus still becomes present to me in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. I think that’s worth fighting boredom over.
If the Mass is truly what the Catholic Church teaches it to be, then there should be no question as to where we decide to spend time on Sunday. If Jesus truly makes himself present to us under the appearance of bread and wine, then there should be nothing that holds us back. So what’s keeping you? Are you a Catholic who has turned away from our Lord? Perhaps you’re a Protestant Christian who loves Jesus but has never understood Catholicism. Whatever the case may be, I earnestly implore you to seek after the beauty of the mass. It may not be about you, but it was instituted for you.
Peace be with you!