When I was a boy, I would sometimes whine to my mother that I was bored. My kids do the same thing to me. I heard someone say once that “a bored person is a boring person.” So, I echo my mother’s advice and suggest to my kids in one way or another that they use their imagination.
We have become used to being spoon-fed and entertained. We are bombarded with all sorts of stimulus. We are media junkies. We have become so accustomed to musical and visual effects that our imaginations have atrophied. We can barely put down our phones to engage in conversation with the people next to us, much less God.
Disney World, for example, is lauded as a world of imagination. Actually, it’s a world of entertainment. We don’t need to use our own imaginations there. All of the imagining has been done for us. We pay to have it spoon-fed to us. It is the same with movies and television. Computer Graphic Imagery (CGI) rules the day. We sit and we watch. We are spectators addicted to entertainment. Little or no imagination on our part is required. Entertainment is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a good, recreational thing. We just rely on it too much these days. It is killing us spiritually.
So, we find ourselves sitting in pews and wondering where all the action is. If the homily (sermon) doesn’t entertain us enough, we’re bored. If the music doesn’t move us enough, we’re bored. We become entertainment critics watching a lackluster “show” and our reviews are not good. We whine and cry that we’re bored and uninspired. Great preaching and inspiring music is nice to have, and God can certainly use those things to our edification. But the Mass is the same event even if it’s just a few people in a little room with no music and no great sermon.
The imagination we need to employ is not the kind that engages in fantasy. We’re not supposed to sit and daydream or “make stuff up.” Christianity is not about having an “imaginary friend” we call God (as many atheists claim). Rather, we are to use the part of our imagination that allows us to “see” with the eyes of faith that which is actually happening in the spiritual realm.
It’s somewhat like listening to a sporting event on the radio. The radio announcer calls the plays, but we must “see” the game in our minds’ eye. Watching the game on television or at the stadium requires less imagination. When listening to the game on the radio, we can still cheer along with the crowd because our imagination allows us to be “at the game.”
The Mass is not a “show” or a “game.” It is not a spectator event we are to sit and watch. We are not there to be entertained. The Mass is an event that we are to participate in. Active participation requires us to engage our God-given imagination.
Imagine being at The Last Supper. Through the miracle of the Eucharist we actually are at The Last Supper! The priest is “calling the plays” of what is actually taking place!” Our imagination is not supposed to help us “pretend” like we are there. It is supposed to help us “see” that we actually are there. In our minds’ eye we can see the saints and angels around us. We can see Christ telling us to “take and eat,” “take and drink.”
This is where the “radio announcer” analogy falls apart. We are not simply listening from a distance, wishing we were “at the game.” We are actually made present to what is happening!” We are not merely recalling past events. We are made present to the eternal sacrifice of Christ! We are not supposed to say, “Oh yeah, I remember hearing about The Last Supper, the crucifixion and the resurrection. I remember it. I’m going to make sure that I don’t forget that it happened.” No, we are supposed to see it happening in the present. God is eternal. No past. No future. When Moses asked what God’s name was, God told him, “I Am.” When we go to Mass, we are made present to the eternal sacrifice of Christ.
Was anyone yawning in the Upper Room when Jesus said “This is my body” and “This is my blood?” How many of Jesus’ followers were bored during the crucifixion or upon seeing Jesus resurrected?
Mass is boring? Really? Mass isn’t boring. We have become boring. C’mon! Let’s stop looking for entertainment. Let’s stop pining for “better preaching” or “better music.” Let’s use our imagination and actually participate in the eternal event!