Many people say they have stopped going Mass because they get nothing out of it. My first response to such people is, “I’m sorry to hear that.” Then I quickly add, “But, it need not be so!” When I say this the usual response is a quizzical stare or something to the effect of, “I know, but it doesn’t concern me enough to change my weekend routine.” If people like this were not so indifferent, they would ask something like, “So what is the key to getting the most out of Mass?” The answer is simple: Informed faith.
No adult can reasonably expect to get much out of Mass if they attend with only the knowledge they received growing up–yet many do. Many people also confuse divine worship with liturgical entertainment. If one is looking for entertainment there are a myriad of other sources to turn to. Proper (self) education in the basics of the faith and the fundamentals of the Mass can go a long way in cultivating a desire to go to Mass. There are many ways to go about this: read a book, check out some Catholic blogs/websites, attend a parish program, or even ask a local priest! However, knowledge about the faith or the Mass is of little value unless it is enlivened by the theological virtue of faith.
St Paul tells us, “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Faith is the acceptance of something told by another. Faith is divided into two categories which both stem from the authority of the source, human or divine. Human faith accepts something because the person speaking it is accepted to honest. Divine faith, on the other hand, acknowledges something to be true because God is the one to be believed.
Faith, as a theological virtue, is something which is infused to persons by God when they enter into His friendship (usually at baptism). Since faith is a virtue, it is something which must be practiced. The best way for us to think of the infused virtue of faith is as a capacity. The baptized person now has the capacity to assent to divinely revealed truths. We can talk about the Deposit of Faith, or collection of divinely revealed truths, later. More important than having the answers to various religious questions, is the choice to assent to what God has spoken.
At every Mass those who are properly disposed have the great privilege of receiving the Holy Eucharist–a privilege for which many saints have given their lives. If we know and love Our Lord, then the Holy Eucharist will become the center of our lives.
Just to be present at Mass and participate fully, consciously, and actively is a great privilege! All of the saints and angels in Heaven are present at every Mass. Any person attuned to these realties will never find Mass boring.
Update: My friend, Patrick Beaudry, blogged about his (non-Catholic) take on this post at Guided Conscience.