We have all heard people say: “Mass is so boring!” But what does that really mean? How do we address this problem? Who or what is to blame?
Cardinal Dolan on his blog wrote a recent post addressing this problem. While I disagree with some of what he says, or at least the way he says it, I think he draws our attention to a significant problem facing the Church today.
Cardinal Dolan writes:
“Mass is so boring!”
How often have you parents heard that from your kids on Sunday morning? How often have our teachers and catechists heard it as they prepare our children for Mass? And, let’s admit it, how often have we said it to ourselves?
What do we say to that unfortunate and almost sacrilegious statement?
Well, for one, we simply reply, No, it’s not! You may find the Mass boring, but, that’s more your problem than the fault of the Mass.
Calling the declaration “Mass is so boring!” a “sacrilegious statement” is a bit extreme, and so is the charge that it is our problem that Mass is boring. I do not think it is entirely our fault that the Mass is boring. I also do not think it is entirely the fault of the Mass either. Rather, I think it is our inattentiveness to the celebration of the Mass that leads to this damning statement.
There is a need today for greater attentiveness to the ars celebrandi Missam (the art of celebrating the Mass). More creativity in the celebration of the Mass is needed today. This does not require the bending of liturgical rubrics or dramatic changes in celebration, but a willingness to try new things, risk failure, and rethink our approach to liturgical celebration.
However, Cardinal Dolan is right when he says: “Boredom is our problem, and social commentators tell us we today, so used to thirty-second sound bites, or flipping the channel when we yawn at a program, are susceptible to it.” We do have a problem being attentive to anything in today’s world. However, it is our very propensity to boredom that the Mass itself must overcome.
If boredom is our modern problem, the Mass must meet us where we are at and bear some responsibility for our inattentiveness during its celebration. Why is this the case? Because Christ always met people where they were at and then called them to transformation. The Mass as the chief moment in which Christ is present to his people must do the same.