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Aleteia posed six questions to Timothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D., director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy in the Institute for Church Life, about his new book, Bored Again Catholic: How the Mass Could Save Your Life (and the World’s Too), published by Our Sunday Visitor.
1. What inspired the book?
It came out of a deep concern that we’ve lost an understanding of the “gift” of boredom as a culture. There is a good sense of boredom in the spiritual life, one that is an invitation to enter more deeply into the life of prayer, to taste and see God’s goodness. Learning to interpret our boredom at Mass as an invitation to enter more deeply into prayer is necessary if the New Evangelization is not to become a Catholic form of evangelism where the emphasis is on interior affections as a sign of God’s presence. The Mass is sometimes boring, because God wants us to give up the idol of our affections for the sake of a more authentic encounter with the Word made flesh.
2. If you could give this book another title, what would it be?
I originally called this book “A Layperson’s Mass Primer.” In the late medieval era, lay Mass books would often help Catholics pray during the Mass. Today, we still need to be formed to pray the Mass well. After all, there is good boredom and bad boredom. Bad boredom is because we don’t actually care or understand what is happening in the Eucharist. Bored Again Catholic invites us into a deeper practice of the Mass through spiritual exercises that teach us to dwell in a space of good boredom. And it also involves some very simple devotional poetry and prayer that might help someone to meditate upon each part of the Mass before it begins.
3) Did writing this book teach you anything?
As a Professor at Notre Dame, I’m constantly learning something in life! While writing Bored Again Catholic, I discovered again the gift of the Mass in my own life. I learned how remarkable it is to participate in the Eucharistic life of the world as a layperson who goes to the Eucharist to offer every dimension of my life to the living God. I learned that the Mass isn’t about making me feel something as much as it is about forming me in the concrete practice of self-giving love. I learned to love the Mass even more deeply through writing this text.
4) If there is one person you want to reach with this book, who would that be?
I actually would love two people to read this book. Part of bad boredom does consist of bad preaching, bad presiding, bad architecture, and bad music. This has to be changed immediately. So anyone who presides, who preaches, who is involved in liturgical architecture and liturgical composition–I’d want them to read this book. But, I wrote this book for my students who often tell me how boring they find the Mass. It is dedicated to the thousands of undergraduates and high school students I’ve taught over my time at Notre Dame, who don’t know how to pray the Mass. I wanted to teach them (and others) to pray.
5) What is the ideal beverage to have in hand while reading your book?
Always a nice craft beer. I’d recommend Greenbush’s Anger Black IPA.
The Eucharist is shocking, so why is Mass so dull?