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Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
March 19, 2006
Is Participation Key?

Ever since the beginning of time people have participated in events that were available to them.  The events have varied in type and in degree of seriousness but all have brought people together for a time of social, political or spiritual interest.  Many of us enjoy sporting events while others enjoy musical or theatrical performances.  Still others enjoy the companionship we can share at social gatherings such as parties and family gatherings at home or otherwise. 

What is it that attracts us to any or all of these events?  Why do we gather with friends, neighbors, perhaps even strangers to share an experience which most often costs us a considerable amount of money to do so?  Is it excitement, the feeling of togetherness, the sense that we can experience a greater depth than we do while staying alone?  Depending on the type of event, the reason may be different but all seem to have a common denominator.  We enjoy these experiences because we are able to enter into them with a certain depth of self that allows us to participate along with the experience.  If we attended any of the above functions and were forced to sit in a corner and not allowed to voice our feelings of joy or sadness or excitement we would soon become very bored and left out.  We would think twice before repeating this experience.

For centuries the Catholic Church has taught us that the most important part of our faith and the most beautiful prayer is the Liturgy of the Mass.  And for an equal amount of time people have been asking themselves why?  The idea that something so routine and so “boring” could be the event that the church chooses to place at the center of our faith befuddles many Catholics.  We often hear people say, “why can’t the Mass be more exciting?” 

Well, of course, most people understand that the Mass was never meant to be a ball game where we come to yell and scream and cheer our team on.  But the Mass shouldn’t be so low key that we are half asleep by the time we walk out either, should it?  Perhaps we can ask ourselves a few questions here. When we go to a town meeting, what is it that helps us maintain our attention?  When we go to a concert or a play we are not expected to yell and scream, yet we are usually fully enthralled in the performance.  Why is that?  When we go to a political rally the speeches are usually pretty serious yet we go and pay attention.  Why? 

There are perhaps two reasons for all these questions.  First, we attend and maintain focus and attention because we realize that this event will help us in some way.  We have something to gain.  Secondly, the events hold our full attention because we participate.  We enter into the event with our entire being.  We listen, we focus, we allow ourselves to feel the intensity of the moment and lastly we express ourselves in some fashion whether verbally or through body language. 

So, do we do this when we come to Mass?  Do we enter into the experience with our hearts and minds?  Or do we simply sit back and wait for someone to excite us?  The key, then, is full participation in the liturgy.  This can be done in a variety of ways and different people will find their niche in their own way but all must participate or the weekly event will surely become terribly boring and not to mention a burden.  Perhaps, this week, we could reflect on ways we can participate more fully when we attend weekly liturgy. 


Lorette P. Nault