Is half an hour a week too much?
I often hear people talking about the how long mass is; sometimes people complain if mass is too fast – they want it a bit longer, and the priest is too fast.
More often, unsurprisingly, people will give out if mass is too long – they'd prefer if the priest cut his sermon short and had mass over within the half hour.
There's even a legendary tale about the woman who watched the vestry door as mass was beginning to see which priest would appear.
When the least favoured one appeared, she turns to the woman sitting beside her and says, 'Will you look who it is, and I only after putting a chicken in the oven, it'll be incinerated!!'
Often times people are right – the priest does go on too long, and maybe mass can be very boring, but ultimately I believe that the reason a person finds mass so unbearable and wants it faster/shorter, is because they're approaching it with the wrong attitude.
If you're not in a spiritual or prayerful mood, if you're not feeling reflective, or if you don't desire to celebrate your faith, then it's probably not going to be an uplifting experience that day.
I find that people who are praying for something or someone, people who have a focus and a reason to go to mass, will find it much more rewarding than a person who goes for no other reason than out of a sense of duty. I'm not the biggest fan of long masses myself, but when people complain that mass is long at 40 minutes, and they feel under 30 minutes would be more appropriate, I wonder are they really going to get anything positive out of the experience if they're just focused on their watch.
Most practicing Catholics will attend mass once a week for maybe half an hour. When compared to other religions and faiths, we're barely making any effort at all!
If you consider Buddhists and Muslims, they pray more often than that, and they seem to make much greater sacrifices. Jewish people will put in a longer shift that just 30 minutes a week aswel. And on top of that, they participate instead of just observing. A relatively new religion was born in Vietnam in the 20th century called Cao Daism. It is a synthetic religion that contains elements of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity, and there are an estimated three million followers worldwide.
What makes this religion interesting is that it was founded by a man in 1926, not hundreds or thousands of years ago like other major religions.
According to Cao Daism, history is divided into three major periods of divine revelations: the first encompasses figures associated with Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism; the second period sees Moses and Jesus taking centre stage.
The third and final revelation is the product of the 'Third Alliance between God and Man' which involves seances! When it comes to prayer, the followers don't have a half hour mass once a week, instead the pray four times a day: at 6am, 12pm, 6pm and 12am. Not all worshippers attend all ceremonies, but devout followers do.
I think it's incredible that in a society that seems to be gradually abandoning the need or desire to commune with God, here, only a few decades ago, a whole new religion was born.
It seems to me that we really could do with putting in a better effort ourselves, and maybe instead of just sitting there looking at our watches, we might try to get involved. It would certainly make the time go faster.