Church is boring, repetitious and I just do not have time. Depending on the parish and time of the Mass, this statement can be true. However the same goes for much of our lives. Children have to attend school and often complain that school is boring or it takes too much of their time. Parents send them anyway, knowing that, in the long run it is good for them. It is the same with God the Father and us, His children. He knows that Mass is good for us. Often our daily activities become boring if we do not re-evaluate their importance; the same is true with the Mass. Remember, Mass is not entertainment and you will get more out of it if you come with the attitude of “I will give it my all.”
Time is a gift and each family or individual has to choose how to use it. God desires you to love Him enough to set aside one hour a week to visit Him. Praying for and thinking of someone are not the same as visiting that person. Bonds are formed and strengthened, souls are uplifted and community is built when we visit with someone. Spending time with someone is an expression of love. In the same way, the bond with God through Christ is strengthened, the soul is uplifted and the parish community is built up when we spend time with the Lord and dine with the Him at Mass. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and you become wise, but the companion of fools fares badly.” Walking with God and growing in holiness happens through participation in the Mass and keeping company with others who are on the same spiritual journey. See “Is Mass really necessary?” below.
The Church just wants money. This can sometimes appear to be the case, however the Church as a whole, and the majority of parishes, ask for contributions but do not require them. Mass is “free” and open to all regardless of how much is contributed. Parishes need to keep track of who is attending Mass should the need arise to provide a letter or certificate on the behalf of a member, to record reception of sacraments and bury deceased parishioners. This is a challenging task and is currently done through the collection envelopes that most parishes use. The funds collected from these envelopes are used to maintain the parish: to pay for staff salaries, utility bills, school subsidies and general up-keep of parish buildings. Funds that are above the amount needed for these items may be donated to other worthy organizations, used to make capital purchases or deposited into a trust fund for future use. Many parishes publish a financial statement in their weekly bulletins which explains where the funds have been used. Epiphany usually publishes its statement in November. If you have specific questions regarding the use of funds you may call the parish. Keep in mind that most organizations, be it Boy/Girl Scouts, sports teams or clubs, request donations or fees.
There are too many hypocrites at church. All humans, at one point or another, act hypocritically. Be an example by your actions. Remember, Mass is about Jesus and the worship due to Him along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, and not about who we see or do not see at Mass. The majority of those who make up the Church, both clergy and lay people, are striving to live out their faith.
There are too many rules and the Church makes you feel guilty. Guilt is part of our conscience and is one way God helps us do what is good. Rules have the same purpose. God set forth certain rules in the Ten Commandments and through His Church. These are for our greater good and are important to remaining in God’s grace. If someone in the Church or parish makes you feel guilty, seek to determine whether or not God is trying to get through to you. If you determine that God is calling you to change, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is there to bring healing and help free you from guilt. If not, please do not allow individuals to come between you and attendance at Mass.
Is Mass really necessary? Yes. God Himself, through Jesus, instituted the Mass – the first of which was the Last Supper. During the Last Supper, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it saying “do this in memory of me” and likewise with the wine. The Mass is therefore the fulfillment of Christ’s instruction. In John 6:55-56, Jesus states “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day. My flesh is true food and my blood true drink.” If God instituted the Mass for us, and if it is God who offers us the gift of Jesus through the Eucharist at Mass, then Mass is not only necessary but also a privilege. For God has called each of us by name and invites us to be with Him! Since early Christianity, believers have understood that being a Christian isn’t a private matter. St. Irenaeus, who lived during the early years of the Church, wrote “The Mass is where we experience, sacramentally, our destiny as members incorporated into the Body of Christ.”
Gathering and eating go hand and hand in many parts of our life, from catching up with friends over dinner to celebrating an important moment or event by enjoying food together. So it is with Mass. We are to gather together to share in the divine meal and offer as one body, one voice and in the bond of faith, praise and worship to God. By coming together at Mass for this Eucharistic meal, we are affirmed in our faith and strengthened for the challenges of life. Through hearing the Word of God, and receiving the Eucharist, we feed our souls and develop spiritually and morally.
Lastly, God instructs us to “keep holy the Sabbath” (Exodus 20:8) in the Ten Commandments. While this makes Mass an obligation, this obligation is set forth for our benefit due to the love God has for His people. Just as parents set forth rules for their children to ensure they develop to their full potential, so God does for us.
In Summary: Give God the opportunity to show you the importance and benefits of Mass. If you persevere in attending Mass with patience and an open heart, participating to the fullest, you will reap great spiritual rewards, which may include: assurance, peace, renewed strength and removal of doubt or fear.
“But Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘come and see’ (John 1:46). If you wonder “can anything good come from Mass,” we invite you to “come and see.”
Sources: Catechism of the Catholic Church; The Holy Bible; Code of Cannon Law; writings of James B. Stenson, Educational Consultant; Bread of Life, Cup of Salvation by John F. Baldovin SJ, Professor of Historical and Liturgical Theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology.