Do I enjoy going to church each week? Do I love LOVE love taking five small children to mass with me? Is it fulfilling? Do I leave each sunday thinking how happy I was to have sat there trying to listen and participate while keeping the monkeys from escaping the pew.......? Sometimes that would be a tough question to answer truthfully.
I would love to say that I am one of those VERY holy people who never gets distracted at church, always feels those blissful emotions while singing the songs and worshiping the God who made me... I would love to say that I never wished for that "Get out of mass free card" that I could present on the weeks I just didn't feel like going, and that I felt enlightened and overjoyed each time I left the building.
Sadly, I am not perfect, and my family is not perfect and life isn't perfect, afterall.
Does this change the fact that I would ever give up my faith? Never. Does this change the fact that I love God with all my heart and soul and mind and strenght? Not a bit. Does this mean that Jesus isn't truly present in the Eucharist every mass? No!!
Thank you to Faith and Family Live for pointing us towards Fr. John Bartunek's new blog Catholic Spiritual Direction where he discusses that very question. Someone recently asked him:
"Father John, what is the difference between those who find mass something to be endured and those who find it deeply nourishing?"
He responded with a very thought provoking answer that cuts to the heart about what church really is about, and calms many of my concerns and questions over how the mass ought to be done, and how I should respond when I become frustrated with all those modern variations in liturgy.
Here's part of his response, but do go and read the whole thing. It's worth the time.
Some days when we pray, we spend the whole time fighting distractions or sleepiness, and we don’t feel God’s presence at all. Yet, that prayer, if it was sincere and if we were struggling to seek God’s face and renew our love for him, was just as valid, just as fruitful, and just as pleasing to God as the one during which our emotions were high. In fact, the more difficult prayer may have been even more pleasing to God, because love in a fallen world is always more evident in sacrifice than in enjoyment.
Btw, Fr. John is the (very handsome, LOL) priest who worked closely with Mel Gibson on the set of The Passion, and wrote the very beautiful book "Inside the Passion".
He has also written a book that I use extensively in my own personal prayer called The Better Part that is a daily guide to Christian prayer, using the Gospels. I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who wants to grow in prayer from absolute beginners to people who have been praying for years. Both protestant and Catholics alike will love this book. It has taught me in so many ways how much Christ loves me, and how much he wants me to grow in love for others.