Feeling uninspired with my church


#1

Hi there, I’m just writing to see if anyone has had similar experiences with the Catholic Church and how they have dealt with it.

I am 29 and have been a practising Catholic all my life, for the first part of my life it was because my mum forced me to go :slight_smile: but as I grew older the decision to follow the faith was my own.

I think the Catholic church is beautiful and love the tradition but increasingly I struggle with my parish. I have been going there for 4 years and in that time only one person has bothered to speak to me. I try to chat to people but I confess I am extremely shy.

I have been to other Christian churches in the area to support my friends in their faith and have noticed how passionate the people are and how inviting the fellow parishers are and there are so many young people. At my church there are no young people, we have very slow and morose sounding organ music and the church doesn’t appear to do anything to support the local community.

I feel drawn to non-Catholic churches because I want to feel that passion and to feel welcomed and involved. The churches I went to when I was younger were the same.

I’m just wondering if anyone else has felt the same in there church and if they’ve ever started any intiatives within their church to help people feel more involved?

Thanks


#2

Yeah, I’ve noticed that too. In the U.S., at least, people don’t tend to stick around to chat. I heard in some Latin American countries, it is the opposite.

Sometimes Protestants can be a little more welcoming I suppose, but their services are also considered fellowship and more informal while the Mass is a liturgy.

I guess just try to think that you go to Mass solely for God, not to socialize. You can also check if your parish has a young adult group or social organization like the Knights of Columbus or Legion of Mary. You can also join a group in another parish if your current parish doesn’t have one. Or you could volunteer for a ministry, like the choir or altar servers.

I knew most of the people in the parish of my hometown, but it was because I was enrolled in the parochial school.

Doing a quick search, I found a list of Catholic social groups in New Zealand: catholic.org.nz/agencies/groups.php#clubs

That rugby club looks like fun.


#3

Yes…I have. Our Mass is boring. It’s well done, but boring. I’ve resigned myself to viewing as a form of self-mortification and sacrifice. Truthfully, I don’t find it inspiring, but then maybe it’s not meant to be. The ‘screaming and hollering’ version, common to some evangelical sects, however, is totally unacceptable to me. My frustration is that while I’m very religious/spiritual/committed to Christ, I find the Mass dull.


#4

Your friends owe you one and should come to your Church to support you! When I went to Mass for the first time in my adult life last Thursday, all the other parishioners were over 70. I thought “If these are to be my brethren, God, let thy will be done; I won’t have a lack of sick to tend to”. Luckily on Sunday it got better, although I don’t go to Church to socialize; I have other places to go to do that.

Don’t forget that one day you will be old yourself.


#5

Is it possible for you to join some prayer groups? That would solve part of your problem - look around in your parish or maybe neighouring one - for example some Bible study group, Catholic Charismatic gruop or maybe you have Neochatecumenal Way, just see what is available, pray and try to join.
Also read about your faith, there are wonderful books out there. attend a retreat - anything. This state that you are in might be a great beginning of something new for you, because clearly you are looking for ‘something more’ than just being a Sunday Catholic.


#6

I would avoid the Neocatechumenal Way, at least in Australia and New Zealand, where it has manifested itself as a hotbed of dissension.


#7

I think that Catholic parishes can seem cold compared to Protestant churches. In part this is because of the size. If a stranger goes to a small Protestant church it’s immediately obvious that this is someone new and people will start introducing themselves. If you go to a Catholic church with thousands of members it’s not so clear that someone is new. That makes it harder.

The best way I can suggest to meet people is to get involved in some activity in the parish. There’s always a need for catechists for the children, sponsors for RCIA, ministers to take communion to the sick, and people to help feed the hungry. As soon as you volunteer in one of these areas you’ll start to meet other people. That’s good for you and it’s also good for the parish for you to make your contribution.

By the way, I’m a shy person too. So I know that going to something the first time can be hard. But I love it when I go to Mass and can say hello to people I know.


#8

What about the Eucharist? Do you feel draw to it? If you do, where else could you go?


#9

Just throwing out some thoughts/ experiences/ perspectives here:

You know, when you go to a Protestant church as a newcomer, it really does seem as though people go out of their way to offer fellowship. And there always seem to be a ton of programs. . .the kids are all ‘involved’ in projects, the bulletins are full of this and that which the church ‘does’, etc.

So you start going regularly.

And in 6 or 12 months, you’ll notice that a lot of people ‘come and go’. The ‘core group’ is usually pretty darn small. Most likely there are a sprinkling of ‘older’ folk; then some youngish to middle aged ‘go-getters’ (the type, frankly, who would tend to ‘run things’ in any area of their life), and that’s it.

A lot of the programs too turn out to be ‘one-shot wonders’. A family of ‘go-getters’ moves away, and suddenly there is no more nursery or pot luck or outreach because they were the ones ‘handling it’ and nobody else wants to step up to the plate.

As you get involved, you start hearing all the little backbiting stories, all the ‘dirty laundry’, all the frustration etc. that you would have sworn could not have existed in this group of happy, committed Christians when you first knew them.

Welcome to reality.

If you find yourself becoming ‘bored’ with your Catholic liturgy, you will darn well find yourself becoming ‘bored’ with any other, even if you lapse out and do nothing.

If you find your fellow Catholics dry and uninspiring and annoying. . .you’ll find your fellow Protestants, atheists, you-name-it to be just the same.

IOW: A lot of ‘boredom, ennui’ etc. comes not from the Church or the people. . .but from you.

(I said a lot–not all.)

You might not want to hear this (I didn’t myself). . .but it is very likely to be true. We become so ‘familiar’ with some things that we become contemptuous of them, because we are so ‘familiar’ that we have forgotten just how extremely amazing, wonderful, and miraculous they are. Just as we have forgotten that the same ‘annoying’ person at Mass who is ‘cold and standoffish’ is just as miraculously created by God as we are, and who has as many ‘gifts’ as we do if we look beyond our ‘glazed eye’ boredom at the familiar and try to look with the ‘fresh’ eyes that Christ uses to look on us.


#10

As you get involved, you start hearing all the little backbiting stories, all the ‘dirty laundry’, all the frustration etc. that you would have sworn could not have existed in this group of happy, committed Christians when you first knew them.

Yeah, my friend and I joined a Christian/Protestant organization. I ended up leaving after a few weeks and he stayed (he’s Protestant). They were all friendly, welcoming and fun to be with. They also seemed to be moral and active in their faith. Though, I did notice some people smirk when I mentioned I was Catholic.

After a few months, he started complaining how everyone was like a hypocrite and how they focused more on prosletyzing than actually doing good works and charity. Then I heard the stories of affiliated Christian groups sending missionaries to Catholic countries. He was also annoyed at the racism and anti-Catholicism he encountered in the group.

This coming from a once non-practicing Protestant who used to mock the Catholic Church, hah.

In a few months, there were actually a few in the group, including my friend, who were seriously considering joining the Catholic Church!!


#11

I agree with your point of view on the Catholic Church being cold and impersonal. I live in a very large metropolitan city in the U.S. and it is the same with every church that I have gone to in a 10 mile radius of where I live. Awhile ago I tried to find a church of our faith that had a bible study group and there were none.

The mass homilies leave a lot to be desired. OK, I got it about the mustard seed and loving one another. How about delving into some topics that are brought up on EWTN? There is nothing ever said about moral, ethics, and personal behavior.

Needless to say the attire by some is atrocious.

Another thing I have self taught myself more about Catholic apologetics and the tenets of the faith than all the masses I have been to and RCIA combined.

What I plan to do is drive a fairly great distance to a Latin Mass on Sundays where people are friendly and the observance is not so casual. Unfortunately, I will pass by at least 20 parishes on the way there but so be it.

John


#12

I don’t know if size is the problem with Catholic parishes. After all, the non-denom mega-churches manage to be friendly and warm to everyone who shows up. Of course they have a welcoming ministry with volunteers which the Catholics could morph their ushers into.

I think it’s just a cultural thing with many European derived Catholics. Perhaps if you could find a charismatic Catholic mass, they tend to be populated by a more diverse mix of Catholics and
tend to be more friendly.


#13

I was in that situation when I was in high school. I left the Church for a Protastant church. I don’t recomend it for all the reasons mentioned by Tantum Ergo and JPUSC. Also, none of them have Eurcharist. The other posters have given good advice. I would suggest spending time in front of the Eucharist as Father Serpa says and meditating on Christ’s sacrifice and on the true presence. Also, as many people sit in the same area of the Church each week, start there. Say good morning to them, ask how there week went, try to connect with these people you see each week.


#14

Hi there,

Thanks for all your support, suggestions and understanding. Just to be clear, I have no desire to go and join another Christian church, I love being Catholic and I don’t plan to change that. Also I don’t find my fellow parishoners “boring” or “annoying”, I never said that. I’m also not going to Mass to “socialise”, I am going there because I like going to Mass, but I will say if you are new to a place it would be nice to think that’s a place where you could start finding friends.

My situation is that the area in which I live is quite small and to find a different parish I would have to drive about 2 hours away. We no choir, or welcoming team. I will look into the groups we have here.

Has anyone here had experience trying to introduce things like welcoming teams, youth choirs and so forth into their church. Have they met with encouragement or disapproval. Any suggestions?


#15

You have several options as I see it. First, you could switch parishes (if there is another one near enough for you to do so), also you could get involved in parish groups (prayer groups, bible studies, teaching CCD). Personally, music is my life (living in Music City USA why should it not be), and I immediately got involved in the music portion of the parish. If you are a musician, I highly suggest getting involved in the parish music group (choir, band, etc.). Talk to the priest, suggest new ways to make Mass more interesting, particularly if others are having trouble as well. Also, being in the Southern United States, hospitality is absolutely necessary. In fact, we have a whole group dedicated purely to welcoming, meeting, talking to, answering questions to new parishioners. You might suggest doing the same in your parish. Good Luck and God Bless!

Nik


#16

If the parish is small, then talk to the pastor about ideas for a new group such as Bible study or choir or perhaps a men’s club that does service and socializes. My parish is gigantic now (over 23,000 registered parishioners plus more people who don’t register). We started out very small and kind of not the friendliest place. Now we look like the United Nations and have the population of almost 1/3 of the town.

Some people got motivated to organize a few new things which led to more and more. We were blessed with a pastor who welcomed parishioners organising projects and ministries, so long as they found a way to pay for them!

If there is a church bulletin, that is a good place to put a notice for a meeting of all people who would be interested in starting an X at the parish. Many times it only takes 1-2 really enthusiastic people who are willing to put in the work to get something started. My parish has things for every age and interest level like deep Bible studies, annual carnival (with a large planning committee), a young mothers group, singles, young adults (20 somethings), men’s club (with quarterly game nights in addition to service projects), teens, middle schoolers, pre-school, prayer shawl (knitters/crocheters), ministries for grieving, divorced, sick, finances, Catholic weight-loss, music (Spanish & English), spiritual formation and many more. We have more than 70 things now!

I hope there is something that I’ve mentioned that will help to spark and idea. I’m a fan of trying to fix the parish that you have rather than abandoning it entirely.


#17

ljvt,
it looks like you’re looking for religion, for social sake, rather than faith in Jesus Christ.

Unless you have a relationship with Christ, even the protestant religions will in time, become boring.

Then what will you do?

Seek ye first, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, then all these things, that you seek, will be added onto you.

Jim


#18

What a fantastic story! Thanks so much for that. It’s very inspiring. I do feel a bit of a calling for this as I feel constantly confronted by it and have done since I was young. I love that it has grown so much as well. Things are going the opposite here, parishes are getting more stretched as there aren’t enough priests around. Thanks for your inspiring words

Can I just reiterate to Jim and others I am not at church for social reasons and I’m not the one throwing around the word “boring”! If I went to church just for social reasons then I certainly wouldn’t be there any more because currently there no social reasons to go there. It’s only my love of God. I am comfortable in my faith, I love Jesus whole-heartedly and always have. I just don’t see why church has feel so cold to outsiders, especially people who are new to the parish. I think it should also be a warm loving place, where people will feel welcomed and encouraged to foster their relationship with Jesus rather than out on their own.


#19

I have found that if I learn the rituals of the Mass if done well, I am more interested in attending the Mass. I think lack of interest is, again, due to lack of catechesis and teaching Catholics the truths of the Religion, including what the Mass is and why it is done with specific rituals. But I do know what you mean. We just have to try to overcome the non existence of entertainment, for lack of a better word, and focus on why we are there.


#20

ljtv,

I have not been on this site much. I have noticed when this topic of the church being impersonal and cold was brought up before some come up with excuses to why that is OK. However, I agree with you that people at mass should at least appear to be friendly even if they aren’t - afterall, it’s called “loving you neighbor.”

John


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