Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Not Your Grandmother's Mass: Wanted: Creative Ideas on How to Revive Interest in the Genius of Mass

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Not Your Grandmother's Mass: Wanted: Creative Ideas on How to Revive Interest in the Genius of Mass

Article excerpt

Here is something to think about. I could bring numbers to bear witness and testimonials to my thesis, but I prefer a brief story. Last week I sat in Sunday Mass--the eleven o'clock, the late Mass, ostensibly the popular one, the one that allows you to sleep in a little and read the paper before you go to Mass--and I counted thirty people in the pews. Total. No babies. Three teenagers. Average age of the congregation, I would guess: sixty. Even the celebrant noted the sparse and seasoned attendance, making rueful jokes about vacations and golf and adolescent sleep patterns and lawn mowers blinking in the first sunny day in months.

Thirty people. In a parish of, nominally, a thousand people.

I checked with the celebrant after Mass and he said probably thirty people were at the nine o'clock Mass and probably forty at Saturday evening Mass, for a whopping total, in a parish of a thousand people, of a hundred people at Mass this weekend.

Sure, there are people at morning Mass during the week, sure there are, and I know all eight of them, and I would guess that your parish morning weekday Mass has fewer people in attendance on average than Christ has in his apostolic posse.

Look, I know the numbers, as do you, if you have paid any attention to magazines and newspapers, pronouncements and polls, opinion and outrage. Depending on the source, weekly Mass attendance has plummeted to a third or half of what it was before the Second Vatican Council. If you have paid close attention to the shrieking about this, as I have, you have heard every conceivable reason for it, from insidious secular culture to the red fingerprints of Lucifer, from terrible sermons to the boom in competition for consumer attention.

But what I have not heard, amid all the moaning and gnashing of teeth about the decline in regular Mass attendance, are any interesting or creative ideas to boost attendance. So here are some:

* Make Mass a mobile enterprise. You know and I know that the sweetest, simplest, most moving Masses of all are the ones celebrated in kitchens and on dining room tables and on picnic tables in meadows. Why not actually plan a monthly Mobile Mass, especially in summer? A clearing by the river; the backyard of the oldest member of the parish; a spot near the beach, followed by a potluck? Perhaps more people would come if Mass wasn't always in the same venue. …

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