I’d like to share with you a scenario based on conversations I have experienced at St. James’ over the years. It goes like this: “Fr. Mark, High Mass is too long! We won’t attract new parishioners when our principal Sunday Mass can be one-and-a-half hours in duration.”
Here is my response.
–One week is equal to 168 hours of time. Given that: Sunday, the first day of the week, for Christians is always a celebration of the Resurrection and Easter promises of Jesus Christ;
–the Mass is the source and summit of the Christian life;
–in our Anglo-Catholic heritage we prize the centrality of the Mass, the Eucharistic offering;
–are you seriously telling me that 1.5 hours of public worship is too much to ask of people?
Assuming travel time to and from St. James’ and fellowship time before or after Mass might total say 2.5 hours, in addition to 1.5 hours of worship; what is 4 hours out of a week of 168 hours?
Here are some facts. It was reported by media outlets during April last year that:
“The average Canadian adult watches a whopping 30 hours of television a week, according to BBM Canada” (an audience measurement organization for Canadian television and radio broadcasting / CTV News April) and “Among 18– to 49-year-olds, the survey results suggested they were watching TV for 19.3 hours and were online for 23.3 hours.” (Retrieved November 9, 2013, from here)
Also, I ask parish clergy in this diocese and beyond regarding the usual duration of Anglican Sunday worship. The response I consistently get is 1 hour 15 minutes. And this is usually in parishes whose liturgy is much less complex than our own. If many of us are watching 20 hours of TV a week and a further 20 hours a week online, is 4 hours a week to join together in worship too much to ask?
Here is a challenge for us all. Look carefully at how you spend your time. Prayerfully consider how God is calling you to give of your time. Let’s illuminate our hearts and minds with the light of Christ and re-evaluate our offering of time in the service of God.
Father Mark Greenaway-Robbins