How Boredom Leads to a Better Life

I read this post on about why God introduced boredom into His divine plan. He explains:

Boredom is the relentless experience of not finding satisfaction in this world. Something starts out being exciting, satisfying, but soon we weary of it and we need something else.

I think that is God’s design in this universal experience of boredom: to point us to the origin of everything interesting, to the world where no one will ever be bored again — God’s presence through Jesus Christ.

If I understand this article correctly, boredom is God’s way of telling us to try some other way to find satisfaction in our lives. The cycle of trying something new, getting bored, and trying something else eventually brings us closer to God. If we never got bored, we would just be content with the status quo and never have a drive to strive for something more like finding a deeper relationship with God.

I’m working hard to make the most of the boring moments of my life. Or rather, I want to be aware enough to know when I’m trying to satisfy my boredom in unfulfilling ways. Like empty calories in a diet, my boredom is telling me that I need to find something more substantial in my life. Here are some ways to make the most of boring situations.

Embrace Doing Nothing

Your body needs rest, including your brain. We all need a little down time where we aren’t actively doing something. It’s not easy when there are so many ways to spend our attention. Like starting a new exercise routine or a diet, you have to start small when it comes to quiet time. Now that the weather is nice, I try to sip my morning cup of coffee outside in the back yard. No screens, no podcasts, no exercising — just me alone with my thoughts. These sessions only last 3-5 minutes before my urge to “be productive” becomes too powerful to resist. But, taking a few minutes to center myself does have a positive impact on my day.

Hold Conversations

One aspect that is lost in our age of streaming video and smartphones is conversation. When you’re feeling bored, try having a conversation with someone whether that be your kids, spouse, siblings, or friends. This has the added benefit that you now have multiple people no longer isolated in front of their screens. It also helps forge a tighter connection between people. I’ve heard repeatedly that you can’t evangelize strangers. By talking with people, you introduce opportunities for evangelization.


Often, boredom may be God’s way of telling you to get in touch with Him in prayer. I know there are so many times when I’m feeling bored, and I reach for my smartphone when I should really reach for my Rosary or a Bible. I think of how much time I spend in front of devices and how relatively little time I spend with God.

We so often operate in “Martha Mode.” If you recall in John’s Gospel, Martha was hosting Jesus and was busy handling all the details of the event. Her sister, Mary, sat and listened to Jesus. Martha was upset feeling that Mary wasn’t spending her time wisely when there was so much work to be done. We so often act like Martha — how can we rest and relax when there is so much to do? But there will always be things to do. We can’t perpetually push out spending time with Jesus in prayer because there is work to be done. That will lead to us increasing our boredom because we aren’t filling our time with the ultimate source of satisfaction — Jesus Christ.

Don’t Multitask

I’m still working on taking advantage of boredom. I often continue to “doom scroll” before going to bed or watch one more pointless video clip. But one thing I’m really trying to cut back on is multitasking. If you look at the modern family (mine included), you will see us eating dinner with our heads down in books, magazines, and phones. I’m working at being present and focused on whatever the event is. If I’m watching sports, then I’m watching sports. If I’m talking to someone, I’m talking to someone! It’s better to have a single good experience than try to cram in three superficial experiences by multitasking.

When it comes down to it, we all just need to slow down. The world isn’t going to come to an end when we don’t look at a screen for an hour. We don’t have to cram 36 hours of tasks into a 24-hour period. Sometimes, it’s okay to take a little break and allow a little boredom into our lives. God is better able to reach us when we’re still.

Faith is a Routine, not a “Quick Fix”

As I move into summer, I often think about how my daily routines change. My kids are out of school, so we don’t have to scramble in the morning getting ready. I don’t have to pick them up in the afternoon. We don’t have after-school activities and homework to deal with. I also don’t have the house to myself to do my work. All these changes got me thinking about routines in general and what it means to have a healthy, spiritual routine.

Healthy Routines

Most people understand the benefits of healthy routines. The results from a routine are often greater than the individual benefit of each part. When you feel physically healthy, you usually can’t pinpoint the exact cause of it. It’s not due to a specific workout, diet, night’s sleep, or vitamin. It’s the combination of those healthy activities that produce an overall desired result.

I think the same thing can be said about feeling spiritually healthy. It’s not a specific devotion that will put you at ease and feel some sort of existential joy. Rarely, does someone come out of a Mass feeling completely transformed. I don’t look back at my evening prayers and think, “wow, that totally changed my life!” It’s the combination of praying the Rosary daily, reading theological books, going through the Bible in a Year, attending Mass, and participating in the parish which gives me a sense of spiritual joy and moral direction.

The Lie of “That One Thing”

Too often, we either look for that “silver bullet” or dismiss a practice because of a single lackluster experience. We are always on the lookout for that one thing that we think will make us happy. Our consumer culture banks on that desire that this one specific product will make you happy. Politicians do it too. They promise that if you support them, you will get the life you desire. But as many successful people will tell you, happiness isn’t found in one easy step. It usually takes hard work and patience to obtain worthwhile goals.

On the flip side, we often give up good habits because they are hard, or we have a single bad experience. Many people stop going to Mass when they hear a homily that doesn’t confirm their vices or non-Catholic beliefs. Instead of working to understand Catholic teaching and try hard to live up to it, it’s easier to quit and blame the priest for saying something “mean.” Or they give up praying the Rosary or reading the Bible after a few attempts because they didn’t immediately feel any different.

What Makes a Successful Routine?

Those who are successful stick with good habits even when they are challenging or don’t seem beneficial at a particular moment. There is plenty of evidence that exercise, sleep, and diet lead to better overall physical health. But you can’t give up on them just because you don’t feel completely changed after a single workout or good night’s sleep. The same goes for our spiritual health. It takes time for those healthy practices to transform you. But we have plenty of evidence from the saints and maybe people in our own lives that these habits do work when you stick with them.

In my life, I can’t point to a specific Bible verse, book paragraph, Rosary decade, or homily to explain why I keep trying to live the Catholic faith. That’s like trying to find the specific vegetable I ate or the particular pushup that made me feel good one day. It’s the combination of those Bible verses, homilies, books, novenas, and Rosary prayers that create that spiritually healthy lifestyle.

My challenge to you is to ask yourself, “Am I living a spiritually healthy life?” Are you investing in your faith every day? Are you praying every day? Are you learning Catholic teachings (from source material, not what some “catholic” commentator proclaims)? If we truly believe that our faith leads to eternal happiness, then are we working towards that goal every day?

The Importance of Humility While in Church

Lenin’s Tomb vs. Catholic Masses

I visited Moscow in 2002. I saw all the typical tourist sites in Red Square and the Kremlin. One popular destination is Lenin’s tomb where you can actually see the crazy revolutionary preserved in a glass coffin. Unlike certain saints whose bodies are uncorrupted, Lenin is preserved artificially and so there probably isn’t much of his real body left. I’m going to talk about my experience visiting Lenin’s tomb and compare that to my typical Sunday Mass.

You have to follow strict guidelines when visiting Lenin’s tomb. You can’t bring any food, drinks, or backpacks. Photography and videos aren’t allowed. There are armed military guards enforcing silence. They will stare you down in a threatening way at the slightest whisper. I’m not sure what would happen if you didn’t follow protocol. The whole environment is set up so that one doesn’t want to find out.

Let us now walk through a first Communion Mass I recently attended. Before the Mass started, people were chatting in the pews. I saw plenty of ripped jeans, T-shirts, and low-cropped tops. People casually walked in with cups of coffee as if they were looking for a table at the local Starbucks. During the Mass, small conversations started up whenever there was enough musical cover to mask the sound. Responses from the congregation were weak and muffled as only a tiny fraction of people knew the proper responses of the Mass. Even grandmothers, who are usually the bastions of holiness, were just as bad as the kids they were supposed to be examples for.

Meeting God’s Expectations

It’s sad that people give the tomb of a revolutionary who caused the death and suffering of millions so much reverence while disrespecting the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. This isn’t a matter of ignorance either. I didn’t visit Lenin’s tomb to honor him. I was a tourist, and his tomb is one of the sites people visit in Moscow. But I still had to follow the rules and guidelines. Similarly, anyone entering a Catholic church, whether practicing or not, should understand that it’s a sacred space and act appropriately.

The casualness we approach Mass is a symptom of the deadliest of sins — pride. It’s us telling God that we are going to do what we feel like, not what he expects. We put ourselves, our fashion, our routines, and our wants before his. We tell him that we won’t humble ourselves to dress and act appropriately in his presence. We are like Satan proclaiming, “I will not serve,” whenever we don’t honor and praise God when we are in his presence.

Bringing Humility to your Parish

I’m probably preaching to the choir about how to dress and act when in the presence of God. Mary has already helped instill a spirit of humility if you regularly pray the Rosary. I’m going to offer this challenge to you. If your parish is too casual in its practices, tell the pastor. Ask him to introduce more reverence into the Mass. I mentioned this to our pastor and now we have a moment of silence before our Masses. We are still far from the reverence and humility that God deserves, but it’s a start.

If you’re concerned about the casualness of your parish, pray and meditate on the Fifth Luminous Mystery — The Institution of the Eucharist. We need to remind ourselves just how precious and sacred a church is. When we see the light of the presence on the altar, we need to remember that Jesus is right there. It’s an awesome opportunity to present all our sorrows, concerns, and thanksgivings to him. We occupy a relatively small sliver of human existence that gets to come before Jesus every time we enter a Catholic church. Pray that you don’t squander that opportunity by talking about sports or the wonderful vacation you have planned.

Don’t Worry, God Knows When You Are Ready

Being the one in Charge

I’m transitioning from coaching soccer to refereeing. In a soccer match, there is the field referee and two assistant referees on the sidelines. Most of the time, I’m an assistant referee watching for offsides and who touched the ball last when it goes out of play. It’s a good way to learn how to officiate because most of the difficult calls are made by the field referee who usually has more experience.

One of these days, I’m going to move into the field referee position which is a terrifying proposition. As an assistant referee, I can rest assured that if I make a mistake, the field referee will just override my call. And while I understand the different types of fouls and laws of the game in the academic sense, it’s hard to recall them while making split-second decisions. It will also be difficult to be that final arbitrator and face the backlash of angry coaches, players, and parents.

“Refereeing is fun” they all said

The Apostles Are Promoted

I think the apostles must have felt the same after Jesus’ Ascension. They were probably comfortable assisting Jesus in his ministry. It was still Jesus’ teaching, healing, and putting himself out there to people’s delight and other’s disdain. Like an assistant referee, they could rest easy knowing that Jesus was going to make the all the hard decisions. Even when Jesus sent them out to minister, the apostles knew that Jesus would still be there when they returned to help resolve any issues that may have arisen.

After the Ascension, the apostles realized that they were no longer assistants but had been promoted to leading and building the Christian Church. And no matter how much they learned from Jesus, they must have felt scared knowing that it was they, not him, who would need to make the decisions on where to take the Church. Remember, this came weeks after Jesus’ Passion which was a low point in their commitment to Jesus. And now they were going to be the ones in charge.

How many times did St. Peter need ask himself “What would Jesus do?”

God Knows We Are Ready

Many times, God calls us before we think we are ready. Any new parent knows that feeling of coming home from the hospital with a newborn realizing they are on their own to nurture this new life. Maybe your job, school, or parish is asking for your commitment to a new project or committee in your already-full schedule. Perhaps God is telling you through prayer that he wants you lead your life in a new direction.

As scary as these new situations may be, we have to remember that it’s all part of God’s divine plan for us. He has a personalized plan for each one of us that puts us on a path towards Heaven. He’s not going to lead us down a path we aren’t ready for. However, it requires great faith (aka: trust in God) to let go of our doubts and fears when God calls us out of our current routine into something different.

This is where faith built on routine prayer comes into play. We need to be prepared if God ever calls us to follow him along a different path. We’ll be more confident and assured if we already have a deep relationship with God because we’ll be following a trusted friend, not a stranger. Like Mary at the Annunciation and the apostles after the Ascension, we may not have all the answers and a clear idea of what God wants from us. But God has a plan and it’s a good one even if we can’t see it.

Sorry for talking about the Ascension a week after we celebrated it. Hopefully, I’ll write a post about Pentecost before Thanksgiving!

We Ignore God at our Own Peril

Large sins often spring from small beginnings. Few of us wake up in the morning intending to sin. I would hope that we strive to lead virtuous lives centered around following God. And yet, there we are every few months in the confessional asking for forgiveness. How can people with such noble intentions fail so often?

David, the Exulted and Fallen King

From the lay person to God’s anointed, we all fall into sin. Let’s look at the Second Book of Samuel in the Old Testament. King David committed adultery with the wife of one of his trusted soldiers and later set up that soldier to be killed in battle. Up to that point, David had been an ideal leader and follower of God. He consulted God on every decision he made. He showed immense faith in God leading the Israelites to victory in battle. He showed mercy towards his enemies like King Saul. How did such a great follower of God’s Will veer so far off path?

When you read the Second Book of Samuel, this story starts with David essentially taking the day off. He stayed at the palace and rested instead of staying with his men in battle. That’s where he saw Basheba bathing and his lust got the better of him. At that moment, David was no better than any other king of his day — using his power and authority to get what he wanted.

David put himself in a situation to sin

There was nothing inherently wrong with David wanting to take a day off from his duties as king and leader of the army. But because he decided to do something other than his duty, David slid into sin. The man who consulted God about everything decided to not only take the day off from work, but also from including God in his day. When David did his will instead of God’s, he committed adultery and murder.

Always Remembering God

It is so important to never stray from practicing our faith. And I’m not just talking about attending Sunday Mass. We need to include God in our day every day. We aren’t called to Christian virtue for one hour a week. It’s a commitment we honor every minute of our lives. When David consulted God, he was a good leader and mighty warrior. When he ignored God, he fell into sin. We are the same — we are strong when we lean on God and weak when we acknowledge no higher authority than ourselves.

How can we include God in our day? After all, many of us are busy with work, school, family, etc. There are many ways:

  1. Pray the Rosary
  2. Read scripture
  3. Read theological books or blogs (but stay away from news and gossip)
  4. Spend some time in church in front of the Blessed Sacrament
  5. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours
  6. Fast
  7. Pray when you wake up and before you go to bed
  8. Pray before and after meals

It comes down to having a God-centered mindset. Feeling stressed or anxious? Ask God for help. Feeling ill? Ask God to see you through it. Concerned about a loved one? Ask God to take care of them. We don’t need to shoulder our day and our challenges alone. When we include God in our day, we are mighty, like David. When we ignore God, we fall into sin, also like David.

Patience is the Key to a Happy Life

I know this is going to make me sound like that stereotypical “old person” who just complains about “kids these days!” But this is actually a post about the importance of patience and why it’s so important to a meaningful life. It’s a virtue, a fruit of the Rosary, and implied in one of Mary’s Rosary promises.

The Coarsening of Society

I can’t be the only one noticing the “coarsening of society.” People seem to lose all self-control and dignity over the most trivial inconveniences. We’ve all seen people melt down or get abusive over a messed-up food order or a late delivery. What about that driver who is tailgating you, honking, and then passing you at 60 mph in a residential area? Have you ever had someone get angry at you when you were driving and almost hit him although he was the one lazily jaywalking across a busy road? Yeah, people seem to fly off the handle over anything these days.

I said low-fat almond milk, not non-fat soy!

Today, more than ever, we need to exercise patience. We need to exercise it in two ways. First, we need patience to deal with this impatient world. We don’t do ourselves or society any favors returning impatience with more impatience. It also pulls us down into a cycle of unhappiness because we find an excuse to make any occasion an unhappy one. Instead, we need to choose civility and calmness if we are to find happiness in our lives.

More importantly, exercising patience also prepares us for those difficult times in our lives — the BIG things. If we can’t handle that incorrect food order, how are we going to handle that cancer diagnosis, the death of a loved one, or that fight with a spouse? Showing patience in the small things helps build up our resolve and perseverance for the big ones. We have to think of patience like daily exercise — it helps keep us spiritually fit.

Patience as a Virtue

Patience is an important element of faith. That is why it’s one of the seven capital virtues. It allows us to bear suffering without being overwhelmed by sorrow or abandoning virtuous living. It gives us the strength to imitate Christ even when our passions want to lash out over a situation we deem unfair or unwarranted. It’s what keeps us returning to God even when it seems pointless. Patience is intertwined with virtues such as charity, temperance, diligence, and humility.

Patience in the Rosary

The fruit of the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery is patience. Picture Jesus, unfairly condemned to death and constantly falling under the weight of his cross. Jesus didn’t complain or lash out about his situation. He quietly endured it knowing it was what God asked of him. Often, we need to show patience for what God asks of us. God’s plan may not be an easy one, but through the Rosary, we cultivate virtues like patience to see us through challenges on our road to Heaven.

Patience is what allows us to overcome life’s challenges. This is why Mary’s sixth promise to those who pray the Rosary is “Whoever recites my Rosary devoutly reflecting on the mysteries, shall never be overwhelmed by misfortune.” It’s not that you will avoid misfortune, but you will have virtues such as patience to endure them. Like Jesus carrying his cross, you will endure and ultimately triumph when you embrace the Rosary.

Do yourself and the world a favor, make an effort to exercise patience every day. Maybe that means leaving some criticism of a loved one unsaid. Maybe that means taking a few extra seconds to think before acting. Before lashing out, picture Jesus standing behind you (because he’s always with us). Does a profanity-laced tirade seem like a good idea? I hope not! Pray the Rosary and ask for Mary’s help in cultivating patience in your life. You and everyone around you will be happier as a result.

Becoming Extraordinary, Not Ordinary

I’m following up on my previous article about recasting God to fit our lives. I read this article about Bishop Robert Barron’s thoughts of an Anglican church holding a Lenten rave party claiming “it’s always joyous to see them [the youth] discover this incredible place anew and on their own terms.” He went on to say that Church and Lent isn’t about experiencing God on our terms, but His.

The Golden Calf Revisited

This is the golden calf incident from Exodus all over again. This church wanted to serve God on its own terms. Instead of the church experience being something not of this world, they reduced it to a nightclub. They metaphorically melted down the holy space and recast it into something ordinary.

Once you understand that the gold calf wasn’t about the Israelites rejecting God, but recasting Him, you can’t unsee it all around you in the modern Mass. We see it in the contemporary music we select. It’s in priests trying to make their homilies into comedy routines. It’s in the casualness of people chatting in the pews before and after Mass. It’s reflected in the jeans, t-shirts, and Starbucks coffee cups people bring. The Mass, meant to be this extraordinary experience, has become ordinary.

Is this a Catholic church or Ikea showroom?

It’s the ordinariness that drives people away from the Church, not draws them to it. If the Mass is no different than a social event and the Church is like a gym membership (something we have but don’t use unless we’re feeling guilty) then no wonder Church participation is shrinking. Why should I spend an hour at Mass on Sunday when it feels no different than spending an hour watching a show at home? Why celebrate the Eucharist if it’s reduced to a cracker?

Combatting the Ordinary

Now that we’re sufficiently depressed or angry, what do we do about it? Well, like other challenges, we start with prayer. Meditate on the First Joyful Mystery. We witness an extraordinary event of Mary accepting the responsibility of bringing God into this world. She accepted God’s Will instead of fighting it. She didn’t ask God to find someone else because she wanted a normal life. She didn’t request God to change His plan so she could marry Joseph and have kids normally. Like Mary, God calls us into something extraordinary. Let’s not recast God’s plan for us into something ordinary.

That’s more like it!

After prayer, then what? We can’t change the parish or the Church if we aren’t oriented towards God. This season of Lent is a great time to ask yourself if you’re letting the extraordinary into your life. Are you breaking out of the ordinary routines by finding time for more prayer or fasting? Are you making your experience at Mass a sacred one? Are you inviting friends and family to celebrate with you (I know, that’s a hard one that I grapple with)?

The Israelites are God’s chosen people. He led them through the desert as a ray of light. He brought them out of Egypt and into the promised land after performing countless miracles. And yet, they often reduced God to someone ordinary or turned away to man-made idols. Let’s not do the same with our Church and how we approach Jesus at Mass. Let the extraordinary sink in.

How to Navigate the Current Vatican Confusion

Episode 9.5: Confusion Reigns

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you know that the sequel trilogy (episodes 7-9) was a mess. A large part of the problem was the discontinuity Rian Johnson introduced in Episode 8, The Last Jedi. He threw out much of the plot line set up in Episode 7 as he was intent on “upsetting expectations.” This put JJ Abrams in an awkward position of trying to connect Episode 9 to the previous two movies. But the damage had already been done and the trilogy felt more like three independent movies rather than a cohesive and unified story.

I see parallels to the Star Wars sequel trilogy and Pope Francis’ papacy. It feels like he is intentionally disrupting Church tradition out of some desire to modernize Catholicism. But this is creating a mess because much of what he’s doing doesn’t seem to follow the teachings and traditions laid out by Jesus Christ and has been unyielding truth for thousands of years. To me, Pope Francis is creating a legacy for himself instead of continuing the legacy set forth by Christ and previous popes starting with St. Peter.

The obvious example of this papel disruption is Fiducia Supplicans. I’m not going to go into detail about that specific letter as there are many great articles about it that I’ll link to at the end of the article. But this letter from the Vatican is only the latest of a series of statements that have confused the Church’s teachings. And while it hasn’t created an official schism in the Church, it has split the faithful about what the Church believes.

A Legacy of Confusion

My concern is that the pope is setting a precedent of the Vatican being ignored or challenged by bishops and parishes. We are not in a good state when bishops pick and choose what statements from the Vatican they will follow. That’s hardly a Universal Church. In this case, thank God that many bishops sided with Church tradition in rejecting Fiducia Supplicans. But what if, in the future, the Vatican comes out with a document similar to Humane Vitae; something hard to follow but flows from Church teaching and tradition? Certain priests will reject the teaching citing the numerous people who rejected Fiducia Supplicans.

I now find myself in this uncomfortable position where I roll my eyes whenever I hear someone quote Pope Francis or talk about the letters and declarations coming from the Vatican. It’s the same reaction I have when I read statements from liberal politicians. It’s hard for me to hear them out although they may have a good point that teaches me something valuable. But I subconsciously discount the value of that message due to who is the one proclaiming it. I don’t like the fact that I’m discounting the teachings of the person who occupies the Chair of St. Peter and holds the keys to God’s kingdom.

And that’s what saddens me. The Church which I love is starting to feel more like a political party. People change or deliberately confuse Her message to make short-term allies and score political points. The beauty of the Catholic faith has always been that she taught unyielding truth regardless of the whims of society. I liked that St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict didn’t feel the need to radically change Church teachings out of the false sense that all change is progress. No one ever accused them of doing nothing just because they reaffirmed Church doctrine instead of modifying it.

How We Handle Confusing Times

What are we, the Catholic faithful, to do in this climate? We need to act as we’ve always acted in times of confusion and persecution — pray. We need to pray for Pope Francis and those in positions of power that they use their authority to lead us to Christ instead of furthering their agendas or legacies. We also need to pray for each other so that we can look through all this confusion and hear how God expects us to live.

We need to regularly pray the Rosary and ask Mary for her guidance. I like to dedicate the Fourth Glorious Mystery to this request. God assumed Mary into Heaven because he had a special plan for her — to lead us into communion with her son, Jesus Christ. She’s there, waiting for us to ask her for clarity and direction. She may lead us to reading and learning more about the Church’s teachings. She may call us into deeper prayer and adoration. She may ask us to fast. Mary has multiple tools to lead us to Jesus. We only need to be willing to ask and listen.

Are We Happier?

Looking back at the 1990s

In the 1997 movie, Contact, the preacher Palmer Joss poses this question in a faux interview with Larry King, “Are we happier?” He asks if all the scientific and technological progress has made the world a better place. Keep in mind that the movie came out in the 1990s in the early days of the World Wide Web and years before smartphones, social media, and streaming video. Generally, we’ve made astronomical strides in affluence and comfort since the end of the 20th century, and yet people who have access to these luxuries are more miserable and confused than ever. Why?

Why we need the Church’s Wisdom

Let’s jump to Fr. Robert Spitzer’s last book of his trilogy, The Moral Widsom of the Catholic Church. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I think he has some interesting thoughts on this topic of “progress” and happiness. He touches on progressive topics like fornication, homosexuality, abortion, and transgenderism and how they’ve become normalized across the world. As a culture, we’ve “progressed” passed what many consider the restrictive and outdated teachings of the Church. But he also cites numerous studies on how these lifestyles lead to increased anxiety, depression, drug abuse, suicides, and other forms of misery. As sin is mistaken for virtue because we no longer listen to the moral authority of the Church, more people suffer as a result.

People often mistakenly believe that the Catholic Church desires people to be unhappy with all their “rules” and forbidding freedom. The flawed logic is that by moving away from the Church’s restrictive and “outdated” teachings, one will achieve greater levels of happiness. What people find however is a life devoid of purpose and meaning because we are reduced to satisfying base desires instead of challenging ourselves for something greater.

Modern society has basically adopted the five-year-old’s “I want to only eat ice cream all day long” approach to life. While we’ve seen advancements in technology leading to greater safety, more entertainment, and access to more information, I don’t think many people would say that the world is a better place or we’re happier than we were a few generations ago. The traditional “first world” cultures are more divided, aimless, confused, and unhappy than previous generations despite all their progress.

Reaping what we sow

Many books in the Old Testament talk about God punishing the Israelites when they break his commandments. I like to think that God punished them by letting them reap what they sowed. If people aren’t going to follow laws forbidding theft, violence, adultery, murder, etc. then what type of society are you left with? One where sin runs rampant. I’m afraid God is punishing us like the Israelites by allowing us to live with the consequences of a world of reduced morality and religious observance.

We need to re-evaluate the Church’s teachings on their own merits, not how they are represented in popular media like the Atlantic or NPR. The Church has sound reasons for her teachings crafted over thousands of years based on the logic and philosophy of some of the greatest human minds led by the Holy Spirit. They don’t make for an easy life, but it’s a life with meaning, purpose, and direction. It’s a life that is in better harmony with natural law and God’s Will. When there’s harmony with God’s design, there’s happiness instead of confusion and anxiety.

Natural law and God

We look at the First Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Baptism. Whenever we meditate on this mystery, we should ask ourselves whether we are living according to our baptismal vows which are summed up in the Creed. Are we living what we profess the Church teaches? Remember, embracing the Church means embracing God’s design manifested in all of us through natural law. If we want happiness, we need to be in harmony with God, not with our social media feeds.

Are you happier? If not, try forming a more harmonious relationship with God. Learn about his design for humanity through the Bible, Catechism, and the Mass. Maybe all you need is to listen to God a lot more and cable news a lot less.

Skipping Mass Makes Life Harder

The Empty Pew Pandemic

Within the last week, I came across these articles about changing church attendance patterns and religious practices. These articles sadden me greatly because so many people have made their lives sadder and harder because they’ve de-prioritized practicing their faith. We need to learn from Mary and the saints’ examples that our lives will ultimately be happier and easy when we chose to serve God.

A person might be entering mid-career, working a high-stress job requiring a 60- or 70-hour workweek. Add to that 15 hours of commute time, and suddenly something like two-thirds of their waking hours in the week are already accounted for. And so when a friend invites them to a Sunday-morning brunch, they probably want to go to church, but they also want to see that friend, because they haven’t been able to see them for months. The friend wins out.

The Misunderstood Reason Millions of Americans Stopped Going to Church

What these articles touch on and what I see in my own life, is a spiritual “quiet quit.” Most people I know who are former Sunday Mass regulars don’t have anything against the Catholic Church. But they started watching live-streamed Masses during Covid. They then skipped a Sunday, and then another, and then another. Since God didn’t smite them and no one asked them to return, their new normal was to be a “Christmas and Easter” Catholic.

“It’s not like they are walking away, saying, ‘I’m now an atheist and don’t believe,’” he says. “They still believe in a God and live life with purpose but are done with the institutional church.”

Why Middle-Aged Americans Aren’t Going Back to Church

Skipping Mass Makes Life Harder

I’ve said this countless times before, skipping Mass and not praying daily makes your day harder, not easier. The articles talk about how people can’t fit in Mass between all the priorities in their lives whether they be work, family, health, or various hobbies. But in skipping Mass, you distance yourself from the source that makes all those priorities and challenges in your life manageable.

Of all the priorities in your life, the last one you want to scale back on is your relationship with God. He’s the one that enables you to move forward and find true happiness and understanding in all that you do. Trouble at work? God can help you. Trouble at home? God can help. Problem with your kids? God can help. No task or challenge is too big for an all-powerful, all-patient, and all-loving God. But we need to form an active relationship with Him through the Church to receive His grace. He wants to help us, but we need to be open to that help.

Many people may ask, “I do believe in God, but I don’t need to attend Mass every week or pray rote prayers to form a relationship with him.” That seems to be the position of many Catholics since the Mass closures during Covid. They stopped going to Mass and their world did not come to a fiery end. But missing Mass is like giving up a healthy diet and exercise in favor of junk food and binge-watching Netflix. Sure, you may be alive and superficially entertained, but you’ve set yourself up for disaster later on in life. We need the Mass because it fills something profound in our souls that nothing else can.

Mary’s Example

Let’s go back to the Annunciation from the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Now Mary had a healthy relationship with God. But God asked her for more… a lot more! Becoming the Mother of God was disruptive, to say the least. But Mary understood the importance of serving God even if it was going to cause hardship and sorrow at specific points in her life. We need to imitate Mary and choose God over worldly comforts and conveniences. God wants us at Mass, not because he needs the praise, but because we need God. It may seem like God asks a lot of us and following him may cause sorrow. But like Mary, we need to understand that those temporary hardships pave the way for profound and meaningful joy.

There are no saints that God didn’t help when they faced their various challenges in life. But when coming to a crossroads, saints choose God over worldly comforts. God calls all of us to sainthood which leads to eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. Satan wants us to choose the seemingly easy life by giving up Mass occasionally knowing that it will lead us further away from God and happiness in this life and maybe the next. The wise, saintly person will choose the road that leads to God knowing that ultimately, his “yoke is easy and burden light” (Mathew 11:30).