Going to Mass

Going to Mass is a habit I treasure.  But that habit was not always the case.

Oftentimes cited as the richest man in the world, Warren Buffet, said “the chains of habit are too light to be felt, until they are too heavy to be broken.”

When I read this quote today, it stopped me in my tracks.  Enough for me to think immediately about:

  • what habits I have,
  • what habits I want… and more importantly,
  • what habits I have which I no longer want.

Buffet is correct, habits are tough to break.  I’m not sure why I made the connection, but while reading Buffet’s quote, the idea of going to Mass on Sunday popped into my head.

Today, going to Mass is a habit.  And it’s a habit I treasure, as I wrote about here.  But for a long period of time, I had “quite the opposite” habit.  Sunday mornings were for running out, buying bagels and the Sunday paper.  Or, just sleeping late after a Saturday night.  Then, sitting around doing nothing the rest of Sunday morning until football came on, or some other distraction.

Once the lads got a little older, soccer games were scheduled – sometimes starting at 9:30 or 10am in the morning.  Who could go to Sunday Mass then, right?  I had my built-in excuse (thanks guys!).  As the years went by, travel baseball and travel soccer filled up much of our Sundays.  Pack up the car and off we went.

Going to MassWhy did we let the habit of going to Mass on Sunday slip away?  And I write “we” because I know I’m not alone.  It’s a national epidemic.  There’s probably twenty potential blog posts alone needed just to begin exploring that topic.

And yes, yes, we’re all aware we can attend other parishes with different schedules and there is a Mass on Saturday evenings (we have our built-in excuses for not attending then, too).

So why are we not going to Mass?

Our parish ran a survey two years back and this was one of the questions we posed was “why aren’t you going to Mass on a regular weekly interval?”  Keep in mind, the survey was posted in the Church bulletin, and emailed to our list of regular contributors, so we were asking the “right question, to the wrong crowd.”

Some of the responses included:

  • the music is terrible,
  • the homilies are too long,
  • I don’t understand what is happening,
  • Someone didn’t shake hands with me,
  • The homilies don’t have any kind of message,
  • It’s just a money shakedown,

Not a single reply came back stating, “I don’t understand why we have to go each week.”  Even among our regular contributors, we found (through check deposits) they do not attend each week, but are sporadic in their attendance too.

So we know there are plenty of reasons/excuses why we are not going to Mass on Sunday (or Saturday evening).

How did “not attending” or “not going to Mass” become a habit?

The answers may not be as important as the realization of the current habit.  Yes, examining the potential reasons why we are not going to Mass may be enlightening, but becoming aware of a habit (not going to Mass) may be more important.

The next step would be “how can I create a new habit of going to Mass on Sunday?”

Dr. Thomas Lickona (@tomlickona) wrote a wonderful article about going to Mass, which I found over at Catholic Education, Eight Reasons to go to Mass.

Incidentally, I discovered that Warren Buffet quote while reading one of my favorite blogs, Farnam Street.  If you are interested whatsoever in learning about how your brain works, how our thoughts control our direction, check it out.  And tell Shane (@farnamstreet) you learned about his site through us!

What are your thoughts about this habit, and how do you feel we can start to change that habit (in ourselves, and in others around us)?  Leave your thoughts in the comments, or reach out to me on Twitter at @catholicblogger.