3 O'Clock Prayer



Entertainment or Prayer

Entertainment or Prayer

by Fr. John Harris

Never Bored
Recently I was talking to an elderly lady and she was discussing her grandchildren’s attitude to religion. This developed into the broader topic of their attitude to life in general. She said her grandchildren believed that life was about being constantly entertained. From the time they get up until they go to bed, their preoccupation was about filling their time with noise and games. She said that they never have time to be bored and indeed, if they are bored, it is after five minutes of not being entertained, and immediately they look for some distraction, very often reaching for their phones.
Generation Snowflake
Soon after that conversation, I was listening to the radio and I discovered that the generation born after the turn of the 21st century are known as “Generation Snowflake”. Seemingly the sociologists say that their parents have them so protected that they can’t stand up for themselves and they are as delicate as snowflakes. Some sociologists blame this on the attitude of their parents. They say that parents feel guilty because they spend so much time on their own careers they try to make it up to their children by being overly protective.
The Power of Entertainers
Rather than just saying this about the younger generation, I was thinking that maybe it is true of us all in general. Think of how much time we spend before the TV or the computer screen being entertained. No longer do we take up our telephones to speak with people but to play games or look at videos. Is that the reason entertainers are the great celebrities of this age, not writers, politicians, painters or even saints? We spend so much time living our lives through the lives of those who entertain us, actors, footballers, TV personalities, that we take our attitudes about the real events of life like politics, disasters or even religion from celebrities. Celebrities now tell us how to vote and what to wear. Our politicians get elected because they are more like entertainers than serious thinkers.
Entertained at Mass
Does this attitude also colour our religious practices? When we go to Mass, for instance, do we go to worship God in the most perfect way possible or to be entertained? Do we look to see who the priest is and how he will entertain us by what he says or how he sings? I have reason to think that maybe the priest facing the people isn’t the correct posture at Mass. I know that as a priest, looking down at the congregation at times, one can feel compelled to perform and make the ceremony interesting to people looking up at you. The congregation rather than the mystery can so easily become the focus of one’s attention.
Crucifix on the Altar
Over the last few years I have taken the lead from Pope Benedict XVI and started to place a crucifix before my face when I celebrate the Eucharistic Prayer so that my focus is on Christ and His sacrifice and not me looking at the people and them looking at me. Once a lady objected saying she couldn’t see what I was doing. I explained to her I wasn’t doing anything. But she said I can’t see your face! I asked her did she come to Mass to look at me. Of course not.
Mass is Boring
How often do we hear people say that they find Mass boring? Is that a way of saying that they go to be entertained, and when the priest or the choir doesn’t perform well then Mass is boring. Do they come to receive or to give? The Christian secret from Christ has always been that it is in giving that you receive, but the modern approach seems to be: I want to receive without giving. Entertain me!
Clouded Attitudes to Mercy
Even our attitude to mercy can be coloured or maybe it is better to say clouded with the same expectation. When I ask for mercy I am at some level expecting everything to work out for me in the way that I want and when I want it. Mercy becomes something entertaining, something that draws me away from the realities of life and into a soap opera version of how I think things ought to be.
Attitude of Relationship with God
So if we are not born to be entertained, what are we born for? We are born to pray. This involves a lot more than simply saying prayers. Prayer is one’s fundamental attitude of relationship with God. Only human beings and angels can pray because we alone are rational and therefore we alone can have an intelligent relationship with God, we can open our minds to God. We were not created so that our minds could be comatose before television screens or by the plots in soap operas or what are called reality shows which in fact have very little to do with reality. We were meant to live, not simply to exist.
Until We Rest in You
St. Augustine once famously said, “You have made us for yourself O Lord and we cannot rest until we rest in You”. This resting in the Lord has nothing to do with flopping down before a television screen and allowing our minds to be put to sleep by someone else’s life and struggles.
I Call You Friends
Rather the Lord comes into our lives in a wonderful show of mercy and invites us into His eternal life by grace. Jesus said at the Last Supper, “I do not call you servants anymore I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father”. Jesus has invited us into the deepest reality that exists; the very life of God Himself in the Communion of the Most Blessed Trinity. This offer of true friendship fulfils us in a way that is beyond our wildest imagining but it is a friendship that invites us to live for ourselves in the communion of divine love. There is no sitting back to be entertained but it offers us a joy that the world cannot give and knows nothing about. This is the heart of divine mercy, true lived friendship with God. God offers Himself fully to us but we on our side must offer ourselves fully to Him. God did not make us to be entertained or to be spectators on the side line of life. He did not make us “snowflakes” afraid to live our lives, rather he made us to be his friends and he invites us to pray.

Join our Divine Mercy Email Newsletter


Prayer Petition

Shrine of Divine MercyIf you would like your petition to be placed at the Shrine of Divine Mercy, please send them to us.


Divine Mercy Newsletter Subscription

Christmas Cards Mixed Pack

Healer of the Impossible

BK104 StRita 1


Devotion to St. Rita

from Divine Mercy Publications Ireland


St. Eunan's Cathedral, Letterkenny, Donegal, Ireland

St. Eunan's Cathedral

Letterkenny, Donegal, Ireland



You can pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with the Sisters of Merciful Jesus everyday at 3pm via the webcam in St. Eunan's Cathedral, Letterkenny, Donegal, Ireland.