Add a countdown clock and buzzer: Sure, we all know how long Mass is supposed to be, but to have an actual number on it can really make the whole thing less of a chore to sit through. If the Father feels like going long on the homily, it’s gonna cost him some recessional rites time. If he doesn’t get it all in before the buzzer, well, that’s on him.
Put a crossword in the program, and if you finish it before Communion you don’t have to stay for the last song: There will always be the people who attentively listen for the entirety of Mass, sing along to every song, and quietly hope the piano keeps going for all seven verses of the recessional hymn. Those people are dorks. Everyone else will likely spend Mass periodically zoning out and thinking about what they plan to do afterward, or what they did the night before, or how ugly the baby in the front row is. Those people probably aren’t really getting the message, so offer them a carrot – make a crossword puzzle where everyone who completes it has this week’s message or lesson subliminally processed through their head. In exchange for getting it done, they can go home right after Communion. I think that’s fair.
Speaking of songs, offer a Mass without them: Group singing is great…for people who like that sort of thing. For the other 70% of people in the room, it’s a lot of time wasted pantomiming a glorified chant. I get that the stage crew needs time to set up the next scene (that’s how it works, right?), but it can really drag things out. They should try to get those people back by offering a Mass at, say, 2:00 pm that is song-free. The Father has already done it two or three times that day, so he should be able to rattle off an “edited for time” version for the hung-over adults who just want to make their dead relatives happy.
Singles-only seating: I’m happy for you family people, I really am. You got the spouse, you got the baby, maybe there’s a parent-in-law in the mix who comes to Mass with you on Sunday. That’s great! I shouldn’t have to deal with any of it. Little kids kicking the back of my seat are annoying, and they never get tired of it. Plus, maybe there are people worth meeting at church. You both had guilt drilled into your head from birth by your parents with the help of a closeted homosexual who takes magic way too seriously – it’s not much, but it’s certainly something in common. Let the singles mingle. And speaking of mingling…
Enough with the hand-shaking: Really, why do we all have to touch each other? This custom made a lot of sense before germ theory, but nowadays it’s just not sanitary (especially in the singles section). If I wanted to spend my free time touching a parade of strangers’ clammy hands I’d be Mitt Romney. It’s disgusting, and on top of that it’s awkward – I’m gonna stop at some point, and when I do there’s always going to be some person nearby who I didn’t get to who feels slighted. Stop making social trouble for me, Catholic Church.
Have a raffle at the beginning of Mass where the winner gets to go home and still get credit for being there the whole time: Just what Mass needs – a winner! This right here could put some more butts in seats. It’s that gambler’s impulse, it can make you walk into a church imagining your victorious exit several minutes later. You only have a 1 in 200 chance of winning, but you’re not thinking about being one of the 199. You’re thinking about being the 1, getting your score card signed, rolling out, and getting a table at IHOP before it gets crowded. Pancakes AND a high-five from God in the afterlife for being a winner? I know I’d show up.
Advance warning for Baptisms, First Communions, and Confirmations: Anyone who was raised Catholic or, for some reason, chose to convert (you IDIOTS!) has had this happen to them: you show up for Mass, take your seat, then all of a sudden a group of parents all clutching gown-clad babies stroll through the door and take reserved seats in the front row.
Shit. Baptisms. We’re not getting out of here before noon.
These churches all have message-board signs, so it’s not like they can’t sound the alarm for the people who don’t feel like spending an extra 45 minutes watching a baby get drafted into the church against its will. For the week prior, just replace the random Matthew quote with “Confirmations this week, do the 2pm song-less Mass if you’re not up for it.”
Finish every sentence of the Homily with “…unless, of course, you’re a Mormon”: Obviously they’re jealous of the Mormons. They wear nice suits, English is the default language, and their followers are so devoted that the church hierarchy can actually get Americans to ride bicycles. It’s amazing. They should just be honest about it! And with Catholic honesty comes Catholic passive-aggression. Plus it would be a hoot.
Have concessions vendors roam the pews: It’s Sunday morning. You’ve been here for 40 minutes. You lost the raffle, the crossword has you stumped, and you forgot they were doing First Communion. You’re not going anywhere for a while, why shouldn’t you be able to get a Snickers? They can put the money toward the building fund or something.
Turn all the child-molesting clergy members and their criminally negligent superiors over to the authorities, let priests marry so the clergy stops being a place where you go to pray the gay away, ordain women, take the vow of poverty seriously at the Vatican, accept contraception as the most practically-effective means of preventing abortion, stop treating sexual habits as the end-all and be-all of morality, admit that witches aren’t real, and pay some god damn taxes: Obviously that’s ridiculous.