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“Answering Those Who Say They Don’t Get Much Out of Mass”

If this is the first article you are reading on my blog, please allow to begin by saying this is the fourth article in a series on “how do you evangelize a culture that used to be Christian?”  In order my three previous articles in this series were:

Now, in this blog article, I turn to the topic of those who say they don’t get much out of Mass.  This includes both those who have stopped coming to church at all, those who only come sporadically, as well as some who might come regularly but might come more out of obligation than appreciation of what our faith offers us.

There are various reasons why people feel they don’t get much out of Mass.  I offer some of them now with some suggestions on what to do.

First, to those who say they feel they don’t get much out of Mass, we should realize that the primary purpose of Mass is to praise God.  That doesn’t mean we don’t get something out of it.  We hear God’s Word and celebrate the Eucharist.  We receive grace.

How do we open ourselves to the grace God offers?  I think the phrase you get out of something what you put into it applies (actually God will multiple what we put into it).  How much effort do you put into Mass? 

I refer to the effort we put into Mass in two ways.  First, ask yourself when do you get to Mass.  Do you arrive at the last possible minute, maybe even missing the beginning?  I think we get more out of Mass when we put more into it.  Try arriving a couple of minutes early.  Then use the time to pray, to hand your problems over to God.  Most churches have missalettes with the readings in them.  You might take a couple of minutes before Mass to begin reflecting on them.

As Catholics, there is a lot of ritual and custom to what we do.  Do you know why we do it?  Why do we kneel at some times and stand at orders?  Where do the words come from?  How do I learn more?  Here I offer two resources:

I said above that those what say they don’t get much of Mass can include those who do come to Mass regularly as well as those who don’t.  Now, I want to mention another category, those who have left the Catholic Church for other denominations.  Why do they leave?  I think not understanding what we do at Mass so that they don’t get much out of it is part of this. 

Another reason can be that some of these other churches, often non-denominational are better at “community”, meaning they are there for one another.  People feel like they matter.  We need to help better feel welcome in our churches.  This starts with greeters with a warm smile and a friendly voice at the door but it continues in the pews.  It continues outside the church.  When was the last time you talked to a person who sits near you in church who isn’t your friend or family?

Sometimes the other churches have what I call “feel good liturgies”.  Because of lively music and charismatic preaching people feel “happier.”  Does that mean our Catholic Mass can’t help us “feel good”?  Of course not!  However, to appreciate what our Catholic Mass offers, we need to understand it (see resources I mentioned above).

These other churches also sometimes offer more “after the service.”  It might be community (social) events.  It might be opportunities to learn more about faith, both for adults as well as children.  People want to be fed.  We need to feed them.

I hope this series of blog articles is helping you reflect on ways that you might be able to evangelize others as well as learn more about our faith yourself.  I have at least one more article I think I will write in this series.  If you have questions about evangelization, please feel free to offer a comment by clicking on “comment.” 

If you would like to learn more about evangelization, please check out the evangelization section on my website.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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