Sunday, February 3, 2013

Can We Just Admit Mass is Boring?

If I were given one opportunity to preach a homily, this would be it.

Random follow up thoughts:

1) If I had someone who was thinking about joining the Church, I would not first bring them to a Mass.  I would start somewhere else, because the Mass is not something that is particularly geared toward evangelization.  If someone doesn't know what is going on, it might actually be a "turn off"

2) I am not saying music and preaching are not important...quite to the and preaching can and should lend assistance to helping our senses grasp some iota of what IS going on.  There is difference between saying
a) our senses fail to completely grasp the reality of what is going on at Mass (what the Church says)
b) since our senses fail to completely grasp the reality of what is going on at Mass, we need not worry about doing anything that appeals to the senses (NOT what the Church says)


  1. Thank you for sharing - this was a great homily.

    Even when the preaching or the music is rough around the edges, Eucharist is always amazing.

  2. Your homily got cut-off after 3 minutes. It was just getting interesting.

  3. Got the whole 20 minutes. Terrific homily. Because what you preached is true.

  4. Awesome homily. Thanks for the insight on the Tantum Ergo.

  5. Father Hollowell I respectfully disagree that the Mass is boring. If you're talking about the Mass is supposed to fill our senses then I would agree, but that's not what the Mass is about. It's about our "faith and love" for Our Lord Jesus Christ. I LOVE every Mass I attend. I feel the presence of Our Lord during the entire Mass and feel honored to be there. I do not see Our Lord as the Risen Christ, but I see him as the Passion of Christ. Maybe this is the difference. I am constantly reminding myself of what Christ went through for us so we could enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It was truly the GREATEST SACRIFICE when you get into the details. He endured what no man could have. Don't get me wrong...I am a sinner and I continue to fall, but with all the Graces and Blessings the Lord has given me I continue to grow in Spirit and understanding of what God has given me. Maybe if the priests would preach about why the Mass may be boring to some and not to others this would help. I believe that the Mass would only be boring to someone that does not yet have the full understanding that Jesus is present no matter how the music or homily goes. As our faith grows we understand this. Mass is not about the senses, but the heart and soul of each individual. As our faith grows we learn to appreciate what the Lord has given us. I am HONORED to be able to attend each Mass and it gives me the "warm fuzzies" at every Mass I attend. My only problem is not taking it too deep so I sit there and weep the entire Mass for what the Lord has blessed us with. I service at most of the Mass' I attend so this helps. I feel the "presence of Our Lord" the entire Mass even if the music if off or the homily is not evangelizing. I agree with you on not bringing someone to Mass with you that is thinking about converting unless you explain all of the aforementioned first. This would be a disservice to them and The Church. That's where WE become the evangelist and help them discover ALL the Mass has to offer. I have recently signed up for an hour per week in the Adoration Chapel at my church and this has only added to a deeper faith. I say the rosary of our Sorrowful Mother through tears each week. This again reminds me of what Our Lord and Our Holy Mother went through for all of us. With this in mind I cannot say the Mass is boring. Anything but. I pray that you will discern on this. It bothers me to think that you believe that we cannot get more out of the Mass just because we are not "entertained". I don't want to be entertained. All I want is to present with Our Lord in His House and to celebrate in receiving the body and blood of Our Lord. I would love to hear what you think about what I have posted here. As you can tell in the last few years I have been blessed by the Holy Spirit and His Fire. I only seek to strengthen my faith and serve God to the best of my ability. With all respect, Your faithful sister in Christ

    1. Mother Theresa writes in her diary how she felt nothing in her senses for 50+ years at Mass. Would you say she was doing something wrong?

      If your soul happens to be carried away into bliss during Mass then praise God.

      But to imply that those whose souls are not transported into spiritual bliss are doing something wrong flies in the face of every Catholic spiritual master since the dawn of the Faith.

      Does my Faith tell me that Mass is awesome? Yes.

      Do my senses tell me that what is going on is awesome? rarely.

      Does this cause problems and confusion among both cradle Catholics and people checking Catholicism out? Absolutely.

      Do we need to tell people that if they sense nothing at Mass, it is perfectly okay? Yes.

    2. With all due respect Fr. Hollowell, I already agreed with you on the Mass not filling our senses, so Mother Theresa is correct and not doing anything wrong. Again Mass is not for the senses but the Faith. But I can guarantee that she believed the Mass' through Faith was awesome.

      I do praise God that my soul is carried away into bliss during the Mass. My hope is that everyone experiences this at some point in their life.

      If your Faith tells you the Mass is awesome then why are the senses so important to you or anyone for that matter. Isn't the Mass about the "Faith"? I never implied to my knowledge that the Mass should supply your senses with anything.

      I don't believe that I implied that "those whose souls are not transported into spiritual bliss are doing something wrong". I only stated that my soul experiences spiritual bliss during the Mass which I again praise God for. I also have great respect for every Catholic spiritual master since the dawn of the Faith.

      If not sensing the Mass is causing problems and confusion among cradle Catholics then this is something that should be addressed from the pulpit...a great evangelical opportunity in my humble opinion. And what a wonderful homily that would be.

      Lastly but not least, I would absolutely tell a person that if they did not sense anything at Mass that it was okay. I would also take this opportunity (as a gift from God) to help lead them (through the Holy Spirit) to a relationship with Christ to deepen their Faith so they could experience all the bliss the Mass has to offer. I guess to sum it up what I'm trying to say would be: Mass: Faith - awesome / Senses - boring.

      I have no greater respect for those that have dedicated their lives to Christ and His teachings, but I do feel that a lot of The Church's priests need to be even more courageous and speak The Truth to their congregations and a lot of that is re-iterating what type of personal relationship we should have with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In my humble opinion too many priests today are afraid to speak The Truth out of the fear that they may lose some members of their congregation. Mass is not boring for the Faithful and it is everyone's duty in Christ's Church to help those who do not see to see with God's love, understanding and patience. Jesus tells us that we will not be popular when speaking His Truth to everyone but that should not deter us from doing His Will.

      Father, if there is something I'm not getting here, I really hope that you can clear this up for me. I really do want to understand where you are coming from. I'm really trying very hard to be the best version of myself that I can be through the help of Faith in Our Lord and all His teachings only to give Him the praise and glory that He so very much deserves. All I want to be is a disciple of Christ and to help others be that too. Please help me understand.

      I still remain your faithful sister in Christ.

    3. Colleen, I think if a mass is boring for someone than it doesn't appeal to the senses OR the spirit. I think the point father is trying to make clear is that mass is not going to always give you a spiritual bliss and that is not a bad thing. I think it is great that you experience such bliss but I personally find that prayer is much like mass in that sometimes I get a lot from it and sometimes I find prayer very difficult. Speaking to some of the monks at St Meinrad, I found this to be true when trying to practice Lectio Divina. Sometimes I find myself distracted and unable to enter into something spiritual. I'm quite certain that Mother Teresa did not ALWAYS experience great spiritual joy at mass and again that is okay. She actually really had trouble saying the Rosery as well. I think it is more important that she kept going to mass. Sometimes its not about the spiritual joy and more about the discipline of going. We don't always know what particular lesson God is teaching us.

  6. I loved the mass from the very first time I went. I thought it was the highest, purest sense of worship I had ever seen. It was the worship of Gid the way he was meant to be worshipped. I became a Catholic because of the mass and have never been bored of any mass since then.

    1. Then you should thank God that your experience has been so blessed...while also letting people know that if they happen to NOT have the same experience at Mass as you, that doesn't mean they are doing anything wrong.

      Mother Teresa felt nothing in her senses for 50 years at Mass. Would you tell Mother Teresa that she was doing something wrong?

  7. Thank you for sharing this message. I enjoyed listening to it!

  8. About 2 years ago Mons. Guido Marini (the Master of Ceremonies at Pope Benedicts Liturgical Celebrations- Pontifical Masses) had to reach over and nudge the Pope during a Mass in Malta. It appeared the Pope had fallen asleep and slumpted over in his chair.
    Sometimes Mass is exilirating, sometimes it isn't. it's not that the Mass changes, its doesn't, its how we react to it that changes.( however i thought i read that Thomas Aquinas said Mass was more effective in some way depending on the holiness of the priest, although licit even with a bad priest, or a poor presentation)
    In scripture Luke 24 we hear that on the road to Emmaus during Mass that the disciples hearts were burning as the perceived stranger explained the scriptures to them, and then they got very excited when they recognized Jesus as he consecrated the bread. so excited they ran all the way back to the upper room in a fraction of the time it had taken them to walk to the inn.
    Then later in Acts 20, Eutychus falls asleep and drops out of the window during St. Paul's extended homily. The scriptures seem to say the Mass is perceived as both exciting and boring. However in the case of eutychus accident, the Mass continued even as a possible tragic accident occurred. The Mass is unstoppable on earth because its power is being generated from the heavenly liturgy.

  9. I fount this site after googling "mass is boring"!

    Just want to share with you my philosophy:

    When I am doing an exercise program and it gets boring or when I have gotten away from exercise or doing my old routine becomes too strenuous, I avoid it. I eventually (after weight gain) force myself to do a scaled back version of the old routine so it isn't too hard. (Or else I research and find a more interesting way to achieve the same results). From that easy and joyful beginning point, I am slowly able to breath new life and meaning into the old movements and they feel good again. I am no longer running on a treadmill aimlessly sweating, but instead I am taking a brisk walk and concentrating on my core strength muscles. It feels good again and over the next couple weeks I can add to it, being careful not to get back into the same mindless rote again.

    Last year I lived in a place that had a 6:30 AM mass. It was 20 minutes long. The homily was only a few lines which thoughtfully summed up the gospel and typically left us all with an idea to think about, along the lines of "how do Jesus's words today help you through a problem in your life right now". It was short but powerful. Most importantly, there was no awful music to tolerate and distract and irritate, which is usually the case in 90% of masses around the world. It made me feel like I had actually been sitting at the table of Christ's passover. The focus was the Eucharist. This 20 min experience was so great that I went everyday. I felt God's blessings and grace and connection to the eucharist. It made me tolerate the long sunday mass eventually as my graces expanded. I was even able to smile at the bad singing and long winded homilies on sundays. They were doing the best they could and I had acquired patience. I even looked forward to sitting in adoration.

    The gift of music is rare and the gift of preaching is not necessary to being a Catholic priest. Most of you are overworked, uninspired and quite frankly not in a position of respect anymore, thanks to the questionable conduct of your colleagues and bosses. Scale it back and do your job. Your job is to "do this in memory of me". Stop talking and let Jesus' words shine through.

    What should you do with the extra time in that hour? Set up OPTIONAL small breakout groups after mass, led by holy lay persons, to run discussions about topics of interest. One topic could be "Theology of the Body". If there are no able leaders available, it could be simply watching a video (Jason Evert and his website is excellent). There are many other topics.

    Delegate and go back to basics. Humility needed. Rebirth is good and you are needing to reach the short attention span of this video generation. Do it for you, for us and for God! You can expand it later when you have earned back your respect…….. or maybe the 20 min mass should always be available for beginners and the uninspired.

    Thanks for letting me vent!