People LOVE Ash Wednesday. It’s one of the most highly attended days of the Church year even though it isn’t actually a Holy Day of Obligation. Even Protestants are getting in on the post-Carnival fun! And what’s not to love? Most people can’t get enough of admitting how sinful they are and contemplating their own mortality/impending death. That’s one of the most popular parts of Christianity, right? Ask a non-Christian what they think about us and they’ll probably say, “I don’t really like Jesus’ message of love but I DO like all that stuff about how bad I am. Mortification of the flesh sounds nice, too.”
Not so much? But if it’s not our deep longing for repentance and reconciliation with God, why is lent so popular? I don’t want to sound cynical but I wonder if it might be the ashes. It’s fun to put something on your head and field questions from strangers about the “stuff on your face.”
So, if we want to raise attendance for other parts of the liturgical year, maybe we should offer a similar incentive. Here are some ideas:
January 1, Solemnity of Mary Mother of God: “What? I’ve got to go to church on New Year’s Day?! BUUUUH” But wait! Now, everyone who attends this solemnity will receive a FREE temporary “Mom” tattoo to be worn on the neck. Just Imagine!
“Whoa, you got a neck tattoo? You must be real hardcore.”
“This thing is temporary! But you know what IS hardcore? The doctrine of the Theotokos!”
Maundy Thursday (moveable): Not a HDO either but, as part of the Tridium, still a pretty big deal. But it’s dark and not very fun since you have to think about how you’re actually the one who betrayed Jesus. So, how do we get more people to attend? Crumbs. It’s the night of the last supper, right? So everyone gets crumbs in their hair and (for men) their beards. You have to keep the crumbs in your hair while you fast on Good Friday. Now we’re talking F-U-N.
May 29th, Ascension of Jesus: After the blessing, all attendees at this mass will receive cotton balls to be worn in their ears to represent the clouds to which Jesus ascended.
“Are…are those cotton balls stuck in your ears?”
“Uh, NO! These represent CLOUDS and my longing to be with JESUS. UGH.”
November 1, All Saints’ Day: The last thing most people want to do after Halloween is drag their sugared up kids to Church. But what if you got to dress up again! That’s right, from now on, all parishioners will be given a funny hat to represent a certain saint. Nun’s habit for Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, crown for St. Louis, miter for St. Pope Pius V, an actual fish for St. Peter. The hat must be worn for the rest of the day.
“Um…Halloween was yesterday.”
“This is for All Saints’! IT’S A CATHOLIC THING.”
Now I bet you’re REALLY excited about going to mass! C’mon! Let’s go put stuff on our heads!