Sunday, January 01, 2006

Can Mass be made better?

Despite the stereotype I've sometimes encountered abroad, most young Irish people don't go to mass every Sunday. This is for various reasons; some don't believe in God, some like the ol' Sunday morning lie-in, some don't want to participate in the Catholic religion (because they have a different faith or are developing their own personal faith). However I think there are some young people who would go if mass was just.. more interesting.

In asking how can mass be made better, I mean how can it be made more interesting and engaging for people. Not just young people but the congregation as a whole.

There are obvious answers: Hold the premieres of big Hollywood films at mass, replace the priest with a celebrity (can you imagine receiving communion off Scarlett Johansson or Colin Farrell?), replace communion bread with a nice fry. These answers aren't quite in keeping with the tone and intention of mass though. So, within the boundaries of taste and respecting the solemnity of the church, how can mass be made more interesting?

I think (from my own personal experience) one thing that can be improved straight away is the presentation skills of the priest. Maybe the Church should require that all priests get involved in Toastmasters so that they become better at writing engaging and interesting sermons. Sometimes the sermons which priests read out sound very much like rote sermons, discussing the holiness of the particular time of year but without really engaging the congregation or keeping them interested.

The atmosphere in the church is also something which contributes to a mass I think. The larger the audience, the more there's a sort of communal feeling which contributes to the experience that everyone has. For masses where there is a smaller attendance maybe there should be smaller churches or a different format for the mass to reinforce that community feeling.

Any other suggestions on how to make mass more interesting for those that would be attracted to the sprituality but put off by the boring-ness of mass?

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