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What video games and the Mass have in common

This article could also be titled “How Video Games can help us overcome boredom and understand the Mass.”

Believe it or not, there is something video games can teach us about the Mass. Not so long ago, I was visiting a family, and their little 3-year-old son Joey wanted me to play Donkey Kong with him. I had been watching the game, and it looked interesting for a while, but it soon got old and boring! It was very boring to see a couple of digital apes jump around. It seemed when one of them died, they were not really dead. They had more than one life, and they could also charge themselves up and live longer. The game seemed to go on forever. I was bored and was hoping that the game would end. But then everything changed. Little Joey asked me to play the game with him.

The next thing I knew, the controls were in my hand, and it seemed for a minute that the silly-looking ape on the screen was actually me! Little Joey was shooting at me. I had to run for my life! I was no longer bored!

It was not long before the little 3-year-old killed me – or rather, killed my ape. (No wonder they call it Donkey Kong. I really felt like a donkey to get beaten by a 3-year-old.) But I realized something.

When we participate, we will not be bored.

Often, I hear young people say, “Mass is boring.” This is just how I felt watching the video game. I was on the outside as a spectator. I was bored. The game itself was not boring, though. I soon found out that my whole perspective and experience changed the moment I began to participate in the game.

The same is true of the Mass. When we say, “Mass is boring,” what we are really saying is, “I am a spectator and not a participant.”

Overcoming boredom at Mass is simple. Participate! Jesus has personally invited you to participate and has put the controls in your hands. Learn to use the controls. That means:

1  Pray and respond to the prayers. Say the words so that you and others can hear them. Mean what you pray. Let them come from your heart.

2  Sing as you can. Practice understanding the words you sing. Songs carry with them emotions. Ask to have and accept the emotions that the song carries.

3  Listen to God’s Word. Know it is God Himself who is speaking to you. He speaks to us through fellow human beings, but God’s Word gives us life.

One final word. Unlike the video games, we only get one life. We must participate well if we want to survive and live forever. Jesus told us “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” What we do in Mass is no boring thing! Where else can we go and actually receive God into our body and soul? Where else can we go and be spiritually connected to all of God’s people in the world, in purgatory and in heaven? Where else can we go, and in what else can we participate, that will enable us to live forever with God? No video game can do that, but the Mass can.

So, next time you want to get involved in a video game and are waiting to get your hands on the controller, know that you never have to wait when you come to Mass. You are already player one!

Fr. Bill Ashbaugh is pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Howell