Suffering from Spiritual A.D.D.

Whenever my son said, “Dad, I’m bored. What are we going to do for fun today?” I knew this meant that he was looking for something new and exciting. I was supposed to provide it. This all too-frequent discussion with my children was the cause of considerable reflection. As adults, do we also seek frequent engagement and entertainment? Does this desire for fun and excitement ever spill over into how we view our Catholic faith?

I often hear complaints that the “Mass is boring,” “the priest is difficult to understand” or “the priest didn’t wow us with an exciting homily.” Still more complaints (whining?) center on the lack of exciting music during Mass or the “inconvenience” of having to attend Mass weekly as well as all the Holy Days of obligation. I also frequently hear this comment: “I wish our parish was more like insert name of any Protestant megachurch. They have a lot of fun in their services and the music is awesome.  They even have a coffee bar!” The list of complaints is likely much longer, but I think you get the picture.

Much has been written about the explosion of Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.) in the past few decades. Many studies link kids’ over-stimulation from video games as a big contributor to the problem. Adults have the same challenges as we struggle with our own addictions to smart phones and information overload from computers, TV, etc.

Is this problem spilling over into our spiritual lives? Do we go from parish to parish looking for some sort of “Catholic buzz” to keep us entertained? Do we flirt with heresy by attending non-Catholic churches? Are our brains, craving more and more stimulation, incapable of finding peace? We need to tune out the “noise” to achieve the quiet and focus required in the Mass.

Spiritual Shepherd or Entertainer-in-Chief?

Do we ever take a moment to consider the challenging life of a Catholic priest? In addition to being our spiritual shepherds, parish priests are the administrators of complex organizations often beset with unique problems ranging from people issues on the staff to budget shortfalls. Their days are filled with saying Mass, presiding at weddings, funerals and baptisms, hearing Confessions, visiting the sick, prayer, study, meetings with parishioners and dozens of other duties we may not fully appreciate. They are not our entertainment directors. Before we complain about something these men of God did or didn’t do, we should reflect a little and say a prayer of thanksgiving for their life-long commitment to help us attain Heaven. These good men need our prayers and our support every single day. They do not need nor deserve much of the criticism that is sent their way.

The Eucharist

Do you ever notice that entering the church for Mass these days often resembles people finding their seats in a theater before a movie begins? There is lots of noise and chit-chat all the way up to the beginning of Mass. Where is the reverence? The respect? The humility? Time spent preparing to enter into the Mysteries? We are about to receive Holy Communion, the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we sometimes treat this sacred time like a secular family reunion instead of a holy celebration.

Maybe one of the reasons people feel bored with the Mass is they have forgotten that the center of the Mass is Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice. “The faithful are to hold the Eucharist in highest honor, taking part in the celebration of the Most August Sacrifice, receiving the sacrament devoutly and frequently, and worshiping it with supreme adoration; pastors, clarifying the doctrine on this sacrament, are to instruct the faithful thoroughly about this obligation.” (Code of Canon Law #898)

A little self-awareness and a desire to change

If anything you have read so far sounds familiar and hits too close to home, there may be a problem and change is needed. Too often we don’t know how we are behaving and coming across to others unless we hear it from a friend. More importantly, if we are in the “complainer camp”, can we change course? A thorough and honest examination of conscience provides an excellent way to identify our sinful behavior before having those sins forgiven by a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. With more self-awareness and a contrite heart, it is only logical that we can now focus on what is really important about the Mass and better understand the critical role the Church plays in our lives.

We can’t be bored if we are sincerely seeking Him. Boredom is a side effect of our fast-paced, materialistic culture. We feel bored because we are constantly being over-stimulated and sold on the idea that we can have it all now and that something better is always around the corner. As rational human beings, we must realize that this is neither true nor sustainable. If we are sincerely seeking Christ, we will find Him through the Church He founded.

The world offers celebrities to idolize…the Church offers Saints to follow.

The world offers noise…the Church offers Peace.

The world offers false dreams…the Church offers the Truth.

The world offers and celebrates vice…the Church offers a life of Virtue.

The world offers earthly pleasures…the Church offers eternal Heaven.

Next week, we will look at six steps to curing our spiritual boredom.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Print this entry