Lack of Joy at Mass?


After attending mass for about a year, I notice a lack of joy. Lot’s of folks not singing, and when we say “Thanks be to God” it’s in a tone I wouldn’t use to thank someone for a birthday gift.

When mass is done it’s like burnout time getting out of there - not much fellowship afterwards. Most folks are gone before the last song is done.

Is it just me?


Well, it’s definitely different for me - although we go to the Traditional Latin Mass… I serve mass with 15 other boys, then we have meetings, (Sunday School is before Mass) and we play Soccer. I’m happy :thumbsup:


When we judge others by our own expectations we will always find them wanting while overlooking our own indiscretions.


Lucky! My brother serves at the OF Mass almost every Sunday, and there are maybe one or two Sundays a year when any other boy steps up to serve. He gets a bit tired of it after awhile.

In reply to the OP’s question, yes, there is that lack of joy in my home parish, too. Out of tradition and respect for the elders of the parish community they stay until the end of the last hymn, but a lot of them look like they’re at a funeral. I can understand that Mass should not necessarily mean that everyone needs to be jumping up and down in their pews, but surely you try to look somewhat happy during the Gloria and the Sanctus. Anyways…:shrug:


I would agree with this. You cannot know others reasons for not singing, doing the responses in a low tone, and leaving directly after Mass.

I find in general, New Englanders are more sober in their Mass participation. Everything is done in a low tone, and with slow dignity. This can make for a very nice Mass, of course, when the parish is trying to be hip, cool, and “with it” it can make for a very sad looking Mass. But I cannot fault them for the Church culture the grew up in, or prefer.

Midwesterners tend to be more “charismatic” and their Church culture often reflects that. I think it comes from the more protestant culture in the area.

Lots of people go out for a family brunch right after Mass, or others have to rush out and start their Sunday dinner. Others have to rush out and can’t stay long for fellowship because of their children.

Illness, poor sing voice, or poor music selection, might all be reasons people don’t sing.


I’m only concerned, if at a mass, my own joy is lacking…I can’t gauge or define joy for others. A somber looking person may be doing cartwheels within their soul!


No it isn’t just you…The thing about everyone leaving quickly is something of an “inside joke” in Catholicism. :shrug: Though of course this varies from parish to parish.
At mine, while there is a speedy emptying of the Church, there is so much “fellowship” going on that it sometimes makes it hard for me to say may after mass prayers. Too much noise.

As for “Joy” - as others have mentioned - there can be a lot of reasons - lots of individual differences in how we approach the faith - different people in different places on their journey (or just standing still).
I fear that for all too many Catholics, Sunday mass is little more than fulfilling an obligation. Not that this is all bad…it shows a desire to do the right things.
In protestant communities who do not have a “Sunday obligation”, it’s different. The ones who don’t want to participate, i.e. sing, make responses, fellowship etc. simply stay home.

Someone else mentioned the fellowship at the EF mass. I think this stems from the special camaraderie that such communities have. Someone might look at this group and think there is no “joy” and yet there is MUCH joy there. I suspect that you would find the same thing to be true if you were to attend a mass at a more “charismatic” community - of course a Charismatic community would express their joy differently.

So - there are many reasons and variations going on.



If you have a Filipino mass held near you, there’s lots of joy, fellowship, and FOOD afterward!


No, it’s not just you. I came to the Church back in '68 and noticed how different it was from my Protestant life. Look around and try to find a Latin Mass, Charismatic Mass or a Youth Mass. All three tend to draw participants who are fervent about their faith. Three completely different styles and yet it is the substance that is of importance. Style is what increases the fire (and joy).


Not everybody expresses their relationship with God through outward, effervescent displays of emotion. And as for fellowship afterwards, many people don’t want to stay and natter with others. Personally I would prefer a quieter, more reverent experience of church, with less singing, less outward displays of emotion, less talking, ‘mixing and mingling’ before and after Mass.

You’re not a Protestant convert are you? Because I have had conversations with Protestant converts (who are now very good Catholics) who seem to view quietness, stillness and inward reflection in a rather negative light , as if this means a lack of ‘vibrancy’ (whatever ‘vibrancy’ is supposed to mean).

It’s not all about singing, cheerful smiles, welcoming handshakes, embraces, hands raised in praise and a cheerful priest who wants to to know all about everyone’s lives.

We come to Mass primarily to meet God, not to meet each other. Many times throughout Mass, I will silently reflect on the crucifix above the altar and think about the pain, suffering and sacrifice that Christ went through as a man in order to enable us to be freed from sin. For many of us, Mass is not all about smiles and outward displays of happiness.

Christ is present in physical form at Mass and sacrifices Himself for us as Mass, does it really matter whether the people around you sing or not? Does it really matter whether the people at Mass don’t want to engage in ‘fellowship’ (whatever ‘fellowship’ means) after Mass is over? Bearing in mind what actually happens at Mass, then surely such things are peripheral trivialities?


We have about 70 boys serve at our Sunday am Masses (OF) Masses. I was at the Sat 4:00pm Vigil Mass, and there were about 30 boys serving.

The EF Mass has about 15.

We do have a Sunday evening Mass, that one is the least attended (server wise), maybe only 6-8


One of the reasons for a lack of joy might be because a lot of the attendees are there because they must be there, not because they really want to be there. If the only people at mass were people who wanted to be there, one might see more joy.


Pardon me while I pick my jaw up off the floor. :bigyikes:


Wow. Several things have struck me in this thread…:slight_smile:

KrazyKat: Yes! I know it’s hard for me to not try to pick the plank out of other eyes…I tend to be overly critical…working on it! It’s all too easy sometimes to peer in the soul of others…

Brendan: 30 servers??? What in the world does a priest do with 30 servers! That must be one HUGE sanctuary!!!

JRKH: I have encountered the same thing. I remember last Good Friday trying to meditate on the Passion before the evening communion service, and the “church ladies” were all sitting together giggling, laughing, telling funny stories like they were waiting for the shops to open. They tried to pull me in to the conversation by tapping me on the shoulder several times, and when I said “shhhhh it’s Good Friday ladies, I’m meditating” they looked at me like I was some kind of freak. We have ALOT of fellowship. I hear people complaining that the Mass should be “more fun!” That we’re a contemporary parish, and that pious postures are too fussy and confining.

For me, I would prefer quiet to the hoopla at this point. But then, people ask me “don’t you think Jesus would want us to be joyful?”
Sure! Joyful and thankful. But not disrespectful.
I’m sure many will disagree. But I long for the old days of waiting till after church to crack jokes and hug and kiss…:blush::shrug:

But then, as KrazyKat said in so many words…I should look within.


Mass is an unbloody re-presentation of the crucifixtion on Calvary. It is the Sacrifice of Christ to His Father for our sins. Of course its not a party. We are there is His presence. It is a solemn occasion.

Watch this video to see what I’m driving at;

God Bless


I agree with your first paragraph. I also believe, depending on the period in the Liturgical Calendar, some moments of the mass would require a Joyful participation, while other moments perhaps more Sorrowful. And in different countries and churches I have been, some people seems indifferent to these moments.

As I said, for me the moment dictates my participation. I would even say the Holy Spirit. I mean, I don’t leave home rehearsing what face or body expression I will keep. I want to be surprised by everything, the Gospel, the Psalms, and sometimes I will smile, sometimes sad, I am not in the mass to make a theatrical representation, I am there to truly learn and to feel with my heart.

A few years back, on a Christmas Vigil I don’t know what happened, but some friends came in the end of mass and asked why I was so happy during the mass? I couldn’t really answer, but I felt like I was really experiencing the Nativity, I couldn’t hold my feelings.

Now I wouldn’t push everybody to feel like me. I would expect more active participation from everyone in the mass, but that’s my problem, it is my fault that I have certain expectations perhaps unrealistic. But I really like to let the Holy Spirit lead me in the mass.


Why should we be at all concerned with how others are behaving at Mass, so long as they are not being disruptive? If how others behave at Mass impacts on how we feel at Mass, then are we not treating the Mass a bit like a form of ‘spiritual recreation’ where the behaviour of the people around us contributes to our ‘feel-good’ factor? If people want to be joyous, sad, outgoing, reflective, singing, not singing etc., then how does that impact on your own relationship with Christ? We go to Mass to meet Christ, not to meet the local community.

Some of the most beneficial Masses I have been to are when I have been away from home and went to Mass on my own in a parish where I didn’t know a single person and had no idea who the priest was. I found myself paying far less attention to members of the congregation and what they were doing and found myself more able to concentrate better on what is important in Mass.


It could be a lot of things. It could be bad selection of music. Most Catholics aren’t there to socialize. Even when I’m sitting with friends - we sit quietly together. Some parishes do donuts every Sunday - others don’t. Some parishes are very uninspiring.

Catholic services are a lot more solemn than Protestant services. It’s not a lack of joy, but joy is experienced in a different way. I don’t feel overjoyed because I know that it’s only by the grace and forgiveness of God that I’m able to receive the Holy Eucharist. I feel humble because, in spite of my faults, I’m able to Receive. I still feel joy because I am Receiving, but it’s subdued by the fact that there are conditions to participating in the Holy Eucharist and I still find it hard that the Lord thinks that I’m worthy to Receive Him (because I’m still a sinner!).

So, yeah - I’m ready to leave when the Eucharist is done. I never knew exactly why until I wrote this post. I’m not against feeling joy at Mass, but usually the last part of Mass is about reflection, not praising. I miss not feeling enthusiastic when leaving church, but knowing that it has been replaced by humility isn’t a bad thing.

(At last, I finally have a name for what it is that I feel! So thanks OP!)


In Catholic For Dummies and even the Catechism, it mentions how mass is obligated. I work Friday and Saturday nights every other week and If I were to become a Catholic, I don’t think I’d have enough energy to go to mass and if I did end up going, I’d be falling asleep or hating every minute of it, in other words, I would lack joy also.


Do you work Sundays also? If you do, you could go to early morning Mass, or Mass late in the evening.

I know it may be hard, and I sometimes don’t want to go to Mass because I’m worn-out, but sometimes, we have to put up with just 40 minutes of it for Christ. You take take it as your Cross for Him. Believe me, it will all be worth it when you are nourished by the sacrament of the Eucharist. :thumbsup:

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