Boring? Homily for Mass of the Lord’s Supper
One of the most common complaints one hears about Mass is, “It’s sooooo BORING!”
Mass is hard. It is a strange admixture of sites and sounds and gestures. It does not lend itself easily to an entertaining experience. It’s not supposed to be; that’s not it’s purpose. The priest is not an entertainer. God is not the director of the show. You are not an audience. Even children know that.
There is something important about the routine of the Mass. A priest from Texas writes:
Monks have secrets worth knowing. One of these is that a community sustains itself not primarily through novelty, titillation, and high emotion but through rhythm and routine, namely, through simple, predictable, ritual processes.
This not only applies to the monastery. It has value to others as well.
People in recovery know this. They don’t attend meetings because the meeting will be entertaining. They know what is going to be said. They have heard it hundreds of times, over and over and over again. They have said it themselves. Why do they attend such boring, routine meetings? Otherwise you die.”
A wise family will say to itself: “We will all be home at regular times, we will all eat together twice a day, and we will all be together in the living room at least once a day—even if it isn’t exciting, even if real feelings aren’t shared, even if some are bored, and even if some are protesting that this isn’t worthwhile.
To stay together we need regular, straight-forward, predictable, daily rituals. We need the manna of daily presence to each other.
We will do this because, if we don’t, we will soon fall apart as a family.
I am not saying that Mass should be done poorly. Catholic liturgy is full of elements that lend itself to wonder and beauty. Way too much liturgy is terrible. The key elements of good liturgy are homilies, hymnody and hospitality. In study after study, Catholic liturgy is known for vapid music poorly played, cold indifference – or even rudeness – to people who attend. I’m not even going to begin to talk about homilies (that should be audible, passionate, organized, understandable and relevant).
It’s about the relationship.
It’s about hammering out a conversation between you and Jesus, every week. Conversations with loved ones are sometimes passionate and exciting. Sometimes it’s instructive. Sometimes the conversation is about a necessary course correction, lest the relationship be damaged. Most of the time the conversations are rather routine and – dare I say – boring. So what? Lovers keep on talking.
It’s about physical presence. Physical connections with a loved one are sometimes passionate and exciting. Sometimes it’s instructive. Sometimes the conversation is about a necessary course correction, lest the relationship be damaged. Most of the time the physical presence and contact can seem rather routine and – dare I say – boring. So what? Lovers keep kissing.
What’s Mass about? Conversation and physical presence. Word and Eucharist. It’s not only important, it’s critical. Attending Mass is a life-and-death decision. “John places it into Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life. In Chapter six of his gospel, Jesus says: “Unless you eat the bread of life, you will not have life within you.” God knew that, without regular conversation with Him, without physically experiencing his presence and receiving him into your body (and thus into your life)… you die. It might be a slow process. The the result will inevitably be the same. It’s so important that God gave an order about attending.
What can you do to make Mass less boring? Invest 15 minutes, in three – 5-minutes segments.
- The day before you attend Mass, take 5 minutes and prepare what you are going to wear. Select the clothing. Physically put it out somewhere so that the next day you can grab it quickly.
- Come and be in your pew 5 minutes before Mass begins.
- Stay in church until you hear the last note sung by the choir or played by the musician. Wait in your pew 5 minutes after this point.
Do this for one month. See what happens.
Some additional commentaries about Mass being boring:
From Chicago’s Liturgical Institute: Elements of Catholic Mass
And finally, from Bishop Barron (Word on Fire)