I posted this a few years ago. I thought to bring it back for another view.
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD" (Psalm 122:1).
anyone who sits under the preaching of God's word will tell you the
gospel message can make people uncomfortable. The reason is quite
simple. God often requires us to change, and let's face it, living
within the status quo is easier.
But what can a person
do who, for reasons such as tradition, family or social pressures,
regularly attends Mass, but doesn't want to change? This is not simply
an academic question. Ask someone in this unenviable position and you'll
hear a sad story of warfare between the conscience and self-centered
I have good news for those waging this
battle. Just because you sit in a pew doesn't mean you have to come
under conviction! You can attend church and still insulate yourself from the
message. Apply the following suggestions and you'll find yourself
adequately protected from the gentle (and not so gentle) urging of the
1. Go to bed late Saturday evening -- the
later the better. And get out of bed early the next morning. Getting
only a few hours sleep will guarantee fatigue during the Liturgy. And
there's nothing like a fuzzy head to run interference for you when the
homily gets too personal.
2. Time your arrival at the
church to minutes before Mass begins. And be ready to leave as soon as
the Liturgy of the Eucharist is over. Spending as little time as
possible in God’s presence will greatly enhance your ability to avoid
hearing from Him.
3. Find a seat as close to the back
of the sanctuary as you can. It's much easier to play the role of
spectator than participant in the back corner.
open the Missal during the readings. And find fault with the way the
readers pronounce certain words, or their accent, or their inflection.
If you leave the missal closed, and you spend your time silently
criticizing the readers, you won’t be able to pay attention to God’s
word. If you don't pay attention, it's easier to avoid the Holy Spirit's
whisper in your ear.
5. Don't participate in
congregational prayer, recitation of the Creed, or song. Those three
forms of worship have a nasty way of softening one's heart to the Holy
Spirit. You may have to go through the motions of participating in order
to avoid being rude, but you will discover the mind can be a wonderful
ally. While faking your participation, you can plan the week's menu or
your wardrobe for the coming work week. Be careful not to sing or recite
too loudly because the mind might become momentarily confused and you
may suddenly hear yourself singing about pizza. That would be
6. During the homily, take mental note of
your surroundings. For example: What is the ratio of men to women in
the service? How many guys are wearing suits? How many women are wearing
dresses? Compare the ratio of those wearing glasses to those who do
not. Think of the statistical data you can develop from these
7. When you run out of things to note
about the congregation, turn your attention to the matters awaiting you
at home. When does that TV show start? Did you program the DVR to begin
at the right time and on the correct channel? Shall you eat the
left-over spaghetti for lunch, or sandwiches?
Bring a small notebook to Mass and jot down a grocery list or some
other "to-do" items during the homily. This will help keep your mind off
the message. Don't worry about what others might think if they notice
you scribbling away. They will assume you're taking notes on what the
pastor is saying.
Unfortunately, because of God's great
love for you, even meticulous observation of these suggestions does not
guarantee successful flight from Him. Despite the best intentions, you
may succumb to His love.
Of course, worse things can happen.