The five-day church challenge

I’m not the most devout practicing Catholic out there. I didn’t like going to Mass at all, and I just went with my parents because of a) the Jolly Kiddie Meal that would come after, and b) my crushes. Don’t get me wrong: I think going to Mass is fine, but it can be boring and, sometimes, pretty rude.

People in my town — priests included — are old-fashioned. I guess that’s the euphemism now for being close-minded and dismissive of actual courtesy and general niceness. And in the age where #wokeness is more or less a requirement, it’s hard for younger people to accept each sermon without question. Yes, religion and spirituality are important factors in our lives but so are personal values. If it’s difficult to stay quiet on social media, keeping your thoughts in church is much harder.

“Don’t focus on the bad things; just listen and accept what you want,” my mom would always say. That’s easier said than done; but at the same time my willingness to get back to it is at an all-time high. I was desperate for some good news and maybe even enlightenment. So when the challenge to attend church for five consecutive days came up, I was willing to try it. After all, having something to believe in never hurt anybody.

Day 1, Thursday: Santolan, Pasig City (8 p.m.)

Most of the people here are senior citizens. That was kind of like watching the first full show at the mall, actually. The homily today was about helping others in need and giving what you can to help out. I think I’ve heard this one before. Are they allowed to do that? Repeat old sermons?

Day 2, Friday: Eastwood, Quezon City (7:30 a.m.)

Mass today was generally pleasant. There was air conditioning and there were no kids running around the room. If this were a regular public space, I wouldn’t mind spending my day finishing my to-do list here. The only thing that almost broke the deal for me was the priest.

I remember him as the priest who shamed OFWs for leaving their children during a mass homily before. Although, surprisingly, the homily today was kind of funny. He kept making jokes about that time when he sang the entire Mass and he made a lot of errors. (It was funnier in real life.)

What happens when a non-practicing Catholic goes to church for five consecutive days?

Day 3, Saturday: Manggahan, Pasig City (6:30 p.m.)

I didn’t expect this experiment to be so tiring. I couldn’t help but think about my to-do list and how much time I was wasting sitting in front of the altar. An hour is still half a round of the Pomodoro technique.

But then again, this is technically work. I’m technically being productive in my work life and my personal life. It would’ve been perfect but the priest was more boring than usual. I think even Jesus fell asleep.

Day 4, Sunday: Santolan, Pasig City (8 a.m.)

Even though Mass is at its prime on Sundays, I generally disliked going to church on this day. The room was crowded, there were a lot of noisy kids, and the priest was extra passionate and performative. I enjoyed Mass more when it was just me, the priest (no matter how cringe-y or boring the homilies were), and a few senior citizens.

Day 4.5, Monday

No Mass today, but I have to admit, I’m kind of looking forward to the next one. Maybe it came from habit or — *gasp* — I’m actually enjoying it.

Day 5, Tuesday: Libis, Quezon City (7:30 a.m.)

Getting up early to hear Mass is something I never understood. How can people sacrifice sleep for something that can be done in the afternoon? I guess the same thing can be said about working out. Which makes me realize: is it really so difficult to devote an hour to listen to someone’s insights about the word of the Lord?

I’m quite sure that I’m not the only one struggling to keep up with the motions of religion, and that doesn’t make me (or you) a bad Catholic. Going to Mass is difficult, especially if there are a million other things that need to be done, and especially if you can’t roll with what the priests are saying. I guess my mom’s right. If I only focus on the things that I like about going to Mass, it might be easier for me to get back in that Catholic game. I guess all hope isn’t gone for us young’uns.

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