Most of us were born into it, remember sitting wedged between our parents with a colouring book or a packet of Twistees, and knew that it was something we had to do every once a week. But what do Maltese people really think about attending Mass?
Following the Malta Sunday Mass Attendance Census 2017 published on the Times of Malta, The results showed that just under 37% of the country’s Catholic population go to mass.
So we conducted our own survey to find out why Mass attendance figures have dropped (and why they’re predicted to continue falling over the coming years).
Well, does this mean we’re losing our religion?
According to the survey’s results, most of us still identify as Christians. Most of us want to get married in a Church and raise our children religiously. Most of us would even welcome a priest into our house.
But we just don’t go to Mass. Why? “I think that the backward stand that the Church takes on many issues only does them harm,” one person said. “There needs to be less abuse and more transparency and Christian open-mindedness.”
And this was the general feel. Our respondents all had different personal opinions on religion, but no matter whether they liked it or disliked it, most agreed that it’s “very dragging and extremely repetitive. Same old, same old.”
“Imagine repeating the same course at university over and over,” one answer put it.
“If I would put an opinion to it I would ask the priests to open their minds (and ears) to today’s problems and understand the lifestyle of 2019, not the 1900s,” one person who attends Mass once a week shared.
A respondent over 65 years old had a different view. “As one ages, one appreciates religion, Mass and his faith,” he said. “When I was younger, I wasn’t so into religion, but now I am appreciating its value. Mass makes us a family. And these days the words of the priests’ homilies are much more down-to-earth and interesting.”
Some had a very enlightening and theological view on the subject; “Boq.”
And please note, there was more than one respondent who expressed this view on religion.
So did we always see Mass as a bad thing?
Depends who you’re talking to, but most would remove the word ‘bad’ from that title and write a huge fat boring.
For most people who participated in the survey, the priests don’t know what they’re talking about because they’re completely out of touch with our society – they still seem to think we live in the 1900s and not this century.
Others might call it other things, like one person who described it as “an antiquated cannibalistic (the Eucharist) ritual that should be relegated to the bins of history.” Talk about being h-a-r-s-h.
“The Omelija (homily) is tooooooo long!”
It’s looking like the Church itself has pushed people away because it isn’t real about how people really do live their lives. And some people agree that this is evident in the homilies.
In short, “ħafna paroli fil-vojt bil-pulit” (a lot of useless talk).
“If needs be, these should be in the form of a film that people can relate to,” one respondent suggested
Just imagine; a 15-minute Facebook live stream every Sunday from the Lija Parish. Or 280-character-limited Twitter post on the gospel. We’re thinking this could legit happen.
However, others would say that going to Mass isn’t about being entertained. As one person explained, just as you would choose a good restaurant, you’ve got to choose a good Mass to go.
This person gave the most democratic response: “Personally, it’s not my cup of tea.”
So, what have we learnt?
There’s a certain distinction between the spiritual and the ritual that people in Malta are acutely aware of. What we feel and what we think are understood on two entirely different levels, and it’s evident in the attitudes of the responses we got.
But whether people attend or not, they agree that the problem lies in homilies. People believe priests just aren’t as in tune with Maltese society as we would like them to be; they don’t know what’s going on in the ‘real world,’ outside those walls lined with gold and incense.
Most people would agree that the Church is not keeping up with modern life, and this one reply definitely highlighted that: “The Church might see this as a wake-up call to make some modern and appeasing amendments. The Church needs to work hard to improve its sermons.”