Advent forms us in the art of desiring God

Timothy O’Malley, director of the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Liturgy and author of the recently released book Bored Again Catholic: How the Mass Could Save Your Life, believes good liturgy is the key to new evangelization.

In an interview with Crux, O’Malley offers his take on how Catholics should seize the many opportunities for the renewal of faith presented during the season of Advent, particularly during a time when many Catholics are returning to the pews after some time away.

“If Advent is about anything,” O’Malley says, “it’s an annual season that forms us in the art of desiring God.”

Crux: You write in your book that some boredom at mass is okay and even healthy. How so?

O’Malley: I write about two types of boredom in the Mass: good and bad boredom.

Bad boredom is the result of impoverished preaching, terrible liturgical music, sloppy presiding, and an inadequate life of prayer outside of the Mass.

This kind of boredom should be fixed through more careful attention to preaching, liturgical aesthetics, and spiritual formation.

On the other hand, there is also a good boredom that calls us more deeply into the life of prayer. Too often American religion is characterized by a sense that we have to experience immediate affections if our common prayer is to be efficacious.

In the case of the Mass, this often means the undergraduates describe being “bored” at Mass when what they’re actually experiencing is an invitation to enter more deeply into the act of prayer.

Good boredom is the way that God moves us from the delight in immediate affections to a deeper offering of ourselves.

This kind of good boredom is akin to moving beyond the honeymoon stage of a marriage to the day-to-day art of living together.

The problem is that in an age of the smartphone, where there’s always an experience that can elicit immediate affections, we don’t stay in the period of good boredom long enough.

We look to escape from this boredom rather than learn the art of prayer that it calls us toward. Continue reading

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