Illustration Credit: Arba Bardhi
Seven tips and tricks for a better church experience
Victor Buklis, Editor-at-Large
For those of us who go to church every week, an ever-present question is how we can get the most out of our Sunday experience from the pews. How do I immerse myself most fully in the Mass? Fortunately, The Mike has compiled a list of seven time-honoured tips and tricks — from churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike — that are sure to enhance the experience of the Mass for all.
Tip #1: Check your phone frequently. And not just so that you can follow along with the readings. Send text messages. Read emails. Surf the web. Open every social media account you have. Perhaps even take pictures during the liturgy. Your actions are sure to provide others an exercise in loving their neighbours.
Tip #2: Talk to those around you. Make sure to engage in plenty of small talk during the readings, during the hymns, during the priest’s homily, and in the line as you approach the altar to receive the Eucharist. Try to talk to as many different people as you can before Mass ends. Bonus points for speaking about different topics with different people. Fit in a conversation about the weather, about your new car, about the repairs going on in your house. Church is supposed to be a community, after all!
Tip #3: Arrive late and make lots of noise as you try to find a seat at the front of the church. Following this step ensures that everyone inside the church will know that you have, in fact, made it to church. It is not enough to slip quietly into one of the pews in the back, as then, people might not notice that you have arrived. Another key to this step is wearing clothes with loud, ostentatious patterns and colours to make sure that everyone can see you.
Tip #4: Don’t sing or say the responses. When the cantor says, “Please join us in singing” a particular hymn, it is a mere formality. The cantor does not truly expect people to take the hymnals, so carefully placed right in front of them, and attempt to sing along. There’s no telling what might happen in such a scenario — like a church full of music. Likewise, there is no need to respond, “And with your spirit,” when the priest says, “The Lord be with you.” He isn’t expecting a response because he figures it’s implied anyway. No need to participate.
Tip #5: Don’t pray or think deeply about what is going on during the Mass. You can always pray at home. And if you do pray, be sure to focus on all the things God should give you, not on what God wants you to do. Also, paying much attention to what the priest does while he consecrates the host, for example, is unlikely to yield any especially profound insights either. It’s safe to skip that part.
Tip #6: When genuflecting, don’t touch your knee all the way to the ground. A quick, insignificant bend of your right knee is plenty. You otherwise might get your pants dirty or spend more than three seconds genuflecting. No one wants that.
Tip #7: Finally, only go to church on Christmas and Easter. That’s right — if you want to get the most out of Mass, only go twice a year. Indeed, Christmas and Easter are the most important days in the liturgical calendar, and those are the days when everyone goes to church. Church isn’t as busy every other Sunday of the year, so you might as well not go because only a handful of people will be there anyway. The experience won’t be as good.