Get a Life… at Mass

How to overcome boredom at Mass
by Br Nicholas Sheehy, LC | Source:
Before he ascended into heaven, Christ promised us “life to the full.” How do we get this life? We have to follow another of Christ’s sayings and learn from children. Children are full of life. G.K. Chesterton once wrote:

"It might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony."

Children are able to wonder at what seems to us to be monotonous. This wonder is an imitation of the Creator. God takes care to not become bored at the rising and setting of the sun, the freshness of spring, the birth of a new child... and thank goodness! Just look at the trees in a park. At first glance, it is a repetition of greens and browns, but upon closer inspection, you realize that each tree is unique. The same happens with a sunset: it is always the same, yet always unique and beautiful. 

God’s strength in sameness shows itself in the laws of nature. If God were to get bored of rain and it stopped, what would happen to us? Lack of rain in one region is referred to as a drought, but how do we refer to the end of rain everywhere? Soon we would be forced to call it the end of life. 

Our experience at Mass is sometimes a drought. Most of us have to admit that we have been bored at Mass. When this happens, we should remember that only those like children will enter into the Kingdom of God. The young boy kicking his legs in the air is absolutely fascinated with his own capacity to do so. He is feeling alive, partaking in the rich experience of existence. 

Church is a drag because we feel we have been there so often. We can hear the words of consecration “This is my Body... This is my Blood” with the jaded old soul of one who has heard and seen it all before, or with the liveliness of a young heart who discovers the excitement of existence in every sunrise. We have to move beyond monotony to the mystery of God who becomes man for me. 

At each Mass, we encounter the real Jesus who was born, suffered and died because of his love for us. We can reflect on these mysteries and be grateful for his giving us hope through the resurrection. We can do this because it is the same, real Jesus who is re-presented as what looks like bread in the priest’s hands. 

At every consecration, Jesus speaks to us: “I love you so much that I become man, suffer and die for you. Don’t worry; my death is not the end of the story. My resurrection from the dead is the promise of your eternal life.” 

He repeats this message every day, in every Mass. Are we able to open our ears and hear him? When we attend Mass, do we remember the gifts that God has given us? Just like the small child overjoyed with the same old trick, we have to ask God in prayer, “Do it again.” If we are bored at Mass, we have to move past the monotony to the miracle. We have to “get a life.” Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and we “get him” at Mass.

Br. Nicholas Sheehy studies for the priesthood with the Legionaries of Christ in Rome. He can be reached at

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Published by: Sara
Date: 2010-05-07 17:32:51
Wonderful article!

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