Tristan Bronca

Mass entertainment

By  Tristan Bronca, Youth Speak News
  • January 11, 2013

It’s 10 a.m. on a wintry Sunday and you’re sitting in a solid wood pew. The priest has stepped down from the pulpit to stand between a Nativity scene and an Advent wreath with half-melted candles counting down the weeks before Christmas. He’s speaking warmly as he delivers a heartfelt homily.

Now imagine you’re a 21- year-old. Five minutes before Mass started, your mother r ipped you f rom you r warm bed and wai t ed for you in the car while you — in a frenzy — tried to dress, brush your teeth and fix your hair at the same time.

Then when you arrive at church, the only thing you can think about is how you only slept four hours after an evening with old friends. By now, the priest’s words are playing on your eardrums like a bongo and the constant sit, stand, kneel feels like exercise. The sanctity of the Mass seems lost on you.

The friendly piece of advice we might offer to young adults who come to Mass after a late night is “don’t do that.” But does it really matter if they weren’t half alseep? If the priest lacks charisma or his words are thickly wrapped in a foreign accent, how should young adults grasp the holiness of every sacred Sunday?

For young adults, the Mass can seem uninspiring — even for the well rested. But is it fair to ask that it be anything else?

In many ways, to suggest that the Church make the Mass more engaging (i.e. entertaining but also meaningful) would be akin to asking Tolstoy to make War and Peace easier to read. To ask this is to make entertainment a requirement at Mass, and I’m not sure this is possible. In some ways, the serious characteristics define the Mass. You cannot make Tolstoy easier to read without making him write less like Tolstoy.

This is not to suggest that Mass should be boring. It merely implies that Mass is much more than another competitor for our attention (as entertainment is). In fact, I would even say Mass is made more meaningful because we often have to struggle through it.

Most devoted Catholics may not agree, but they certainly act as though they do. They go to Mass, even when it doesn’t excite them, in order to feel some sense of spiritual fulfilment. But then there are also those who enjoy this struggle — like a bodybuilder enjoys the burn of blood rushing to his exhausted muscles.
While both groups walk away spiritually fulfilled, the first group must make an effort while it happens automatically for the second.

So when we say the Church has to do something to “engage” the congregations, we are asking the Church to make that effort for us. But before we do that, we should at least try to make that effort ourselves — even on those difficult mornings following those long nights.

(Bronca, 21, is a fourth-year journalism student at Carleton University in Ottawa.)

 

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