“I don’t go to Mass because I don’t get anything out of it.”
Thanks to everyone who submitted responses to the question of “I’m spiritual but not religious” in last month’s newsletter. Click here to see how people answered the question.
This month’s “Whaddaya Say” is about the statement, “I don’t go to Mass because I don’t get anything out of it.” Our evangelists often hear this statement from Catholics who have gone to an evangelical protestant church. Often, protestant services are designed for outreach, drawing your attention through an appeal to emotion and then presenting a powerful presentation of the gospel — albeit an incomplete gospel. Many Catholics don’t get the same thing at a standard parish Mass, and they stop going.
So, imagine you’re evangelizing on the streets and you have the following conversation:
Evangelist: Hi, would you like this free gospel holy card?
Other person: Sure, that’s really beautiful!
E: No problem, are you Catholic?
O: Yes, I’ve been Catholic all my life.
E: That’s awesome! Where do you go to Mass?
O: Well, to be honest, I don’t go anymore. I love God, but I just don’t think I really get anything out of Mass.
So, what would you say next? Here are the best answers we’ve received.
“I’m sorry that you feel like you don’t receive anything. Are you aware of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist? The Church has believed from early christian times that Jesus was really present as body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist that happens at every single mass. You could be a simple few feet away from the powerful and healing presence of God…. (see what their response is) I encourage you to go to mass, and I would love to take you with me to a daily mass that is significantly shorter when I go on wednesday……..”
Or if they mention they started going to a Protestant Church (that usually is passionate about reading the bible):
“Are you devoted to reading the bible? (wait for response…..) I have the parts of the mass pulled up here on my phone that happens at every mass that I wanted to show you. Did you know that the mass itself is centered in the Word? Are you familiar with the Gospel of John when he says “the word was made flesh?” The mass is played out as the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist. I love encountering God in the Word too and the reason that I go to mass is because I get to see “the word made flesh.” (ask about the Eucharist)…….you see what happens in the mass is literally the most epic moment of time that could happen in the whole universe….(lead into invitation)”– Christina H
One might ask the person what he is hoping to get out of Mass. The answer will probably be a subjective feeling. Acknowledge that the whole person, including the emotional aspect, reaches fulfillment and happiness (joy) in God and so it is God himself that we must seek foremost. Explain how, if we are properly disposed, in the Eucharist we commune most intimately with God.– Thomas V
Two thousand years ago, Jesus won for us the rewards of eternal salvation.
When we go to Mass Jesus applies those rewards to us.
Jesus did all the heavy lifting. The least we can do is show up on Sundays and holy days of obligation and worship Him.– Bob W
There are two ways that I can see to approach this.
1) Say “What do you put into Mass?” then offer suggestions and follow up questions–do you sing, do you say the prayers, especially with meaning, do you actively listen to the readings and try to apply them to your life?
2) I would also explain that Mass is a follow up of the third commandment “Keep holy the Lord’s Day” Going to Mass is a way to give honor and worship to God for what He has given us.
Either case, an explanation of Holy Eucharist is in order. I find it doubtful that anyone who understands Holy Eucharists and receives communion worthily could possibly say “I don’t really get anything out of Mass” when they are knowingly receiving the best gift of all-Jesus.– Sharon H
The four ends of the Mass are: Adoration, praise and thanksgiving, making reparation for our sins, and asking for the graces necessary for our salvation. If you go with those ends in mind, they will not be denied you. If you want something else, you can certainly ask for it, and you will often receive it (especially if you keep the 4 principle aims prioritized.
If you go to the beach expecting to avoid sand, water, and sun, you probably have mistaken the purpose of the beach.– Amanda O
I would ask them, “Have you ever looked into the why behind the words and gestures of the Mass? The Mass becomes much more meaningful once you do that.” You might also follow-up by telling them what your favorite part of the Mass is, and why.– Nick H
Ask questions, like his favorite part of the Mass, and show them in Scripture why we do that. Perhaps visit a different Catholic parish if possible to see if there is a difference. Many of us had weak catechism growing up when we did. The more I learn, the more I love not only the Faith, but God because of the fullness of our Catholic Faith.
Remember, our Faith isn’t based on feelings.– Christina G
You get out of it what you put into it. Prepare for Mass. Read the prayers and readings before you go. Clean up, go to Mass dressed in your best – whatever that may be. Get there 20 minutes early. Sit close to the front. Ask God to help you, listen to what He places in your heart. Grab the missal and find the readings, go over them again. Consider what the “message” is today, and how it pertains to you. Every time your mind wanders, ask God to help you.– Kelly H
A lot of times what is good for the soul is different than what we feel is good with our senses.– Carlos T
Mass is not about getting, it’s about giving. Giving yourself to our Lord in praise, thanksgiving, humility, and sorrow.– Carol G
Are you praying the prayers of the mass or reciting them? There is a difference. Praying the prayers means that you take them to heart. The meaning as opposed to the saying becomes yours.– Mark V
Our LORD offers to us immortal life & unending life & joy in heaven which He earned for us through blood sacrifice (see The Passion of the Christ). An hour every Sunday in thanksgiving for all He’s done isn’t too much to ask in return.– Chris F
(1) This should not be discounted; try different parishes until you find a priest whose preaching relates to and inspires you. For younger people, I might even suggest a “teen Mass” with lively and more modern music. (2) I’m not sure how to articulate it, but it should be something along the lines of Mass isn’t about what you get out of it, rather it’s what’s owed to God. Someone who is questioning their faith may not respond to this though.
As for engagement questions, I would ask, why. Which parish have you gone to? Do you remember a time when you did like going to Mass? Outside of Mass what are some ways that you experience God? Connect those answers to a specific Parish/Mass they could attend.– Patrice A
You can only get out of it what you put into it. If you put nothing in, you get nothing out.– William F
Please let me tell what is happening on the altar and all around you. Prepare to be amazed and changed!!!– Theresa C
Oh yeah, I understand. My mindset was like that years ago, for years! I didn’t really understand what the Mass was, short of an obligation. Now, I understand it more clearly. The Mass is an opportunity, for us, to praise and worship and thank God for everything that he is and has done for us! He is our creator, he made us and has given us an opportunity for salvation, to be with him for all eternity! Mass is a gathering of faithful people to come together to thank him communally! And the super bonus is that God is present, Jesus, in the Eucharist, body, blood, soul and divinity! He loves us so much that He offers Himself, in the flesh for our spiritual refreshment! Our living God loves us that much! He can’t help Himself! So, let’s meet Him in the special way that he wants us to receive Him, giving praise and receiving so much in return!– Richard H
I would probably start by asking what they are hoping to get out of it; and do they pray and prepare before going to Mass; read the readings; pray for the Holy Spirit to open their heart and mind to what He wants them to receive? I would share my own reasons for going to Mass and how I came to appreciate it more and more, but only after I studied my faith more and understood more about the Mass; and how beautiful and rich it really is. And, of course, we can receive the Eucharist, so that is definitely something to ‘get out of it’. Hopefully that would start a dialogue. I think it also depends on the person with whom you are speaking; that might determine what the right approach would be.– Suzanne C