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Stop Trying to Make Church Fun – It’s About Something Much More Important

Stop Trying to Make Church Fun – It’s About Something Much More Important

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Brian Holdsworth, YouTube

Brian Holdsworth seems to me to be a voice for the Millennial Generation and for Generation Z. In fact, his description of himself on Youtube as “a creative professional and struggling thinker making videos on topics that I find interesting,” seems to fit the stereotypical reticence of these generations to define himself. But he does not adopt the stereotypical “take it or leave it” attitude. His videos show a real concern for truth.

In this video, Brian calls us out of our entertainment-obsessed culture to remind us that the Holy Mass is not about us – it’s about the exchange of the gift of self between Jesus and us, and between the Body of Christ and the Heavenly Father.

I found the inevitable criticisms of his statement interesting. One woman said:

If one wants to be somber and austere at mass they can go on their own and adore, but I believe God is rich in love, and joy and in His presence one should be merry and content, Jesus said “they don’t fast because He is with them”. He is with us again, in the Eucharist, in the Holy Spirit, “behold I am with you until the end of time”. We should rejoice in our salvation. God should be a comfort to the sorrowful, not just more sorrow, otherwise, we’re just increasing depression! I disagree completely. There is no victory in the cross, if we sorrowfully go to church all the time. Christ came to give us rest and reprieve from the burdens of the world, “Take my yoke upon you and you shall find rest for your souls”. We should not be imposing a repressive heaviness on the congregation. When they fall in love, as they will, when their hearts are comforted, then they will come in sincere austere thanksgiving.

This woman makes a very common error in her thinking. As a result, she is at the same time correct, wrong, and agreeing with Brian despite herself. She is confusing true joy and emotional happiness.

In his video, Brian is saying that we should not go to Mass expecting to be entertained. He is speaking out against a shallow, selfish view of Mass – a “what’s in it for me” attitude. Brian is not saying that Mass should be somber and sorrowful. Rather, I would say that he is pointing us to the deeper joy that comes from making a gift of ourselves to the Father through our unity to Jesus. The problem is that most attempts to make Mass “fun” appeal to the shallow, emotional, selfish side of us rather than to the deeper joy of love.

This misunderstanding is exactly what I think happened to the Mass after Vatican II. The conciliar document Sacrosanctum Concilium on the Holy Mass wanted to encourage “full, conscious participation” of the laity at Mass. But the changes the Council proposed were changes meant to deepen a marriage between Jesus and the people. The changes that actually took place in the Mass were focused more on making Mass a better dating experience. Do you see the difference? So I agree with Brian. Mass should not be “fun.” But I also agree with what his critic didn’t quite realize she was saying. Mass should be deeply (not superficially) joyful.

What do you think of Brian’s statement?

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