Our community decided in 2008 that the mission of our parish was life-long learning. Everything we do centers around teaching the depth and richness of the Roman Catholic Faith. Our weekly 3-Minute Catechesis is read from the Ambo prior to Mass beginning. A written copy is made available in our weekly bulletin along with additional information for those who want to learn more. Visit us online at www.risensaviorcc.org for more information.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


You just sat down, a movement that is part of our liturgy. Sitting in this assembly is not like sitting in a movie theater or in front of the television or computer after a day’s work. It isn’t sitting to relax or be entertained. While sitting can certainly be a restful posture, it is also a receptive posture.

We sit primarily to hear the Word of God proclaimed and then explained. We sit to let silence wash over us as we pray and reflect. Little by little, this posture teaches us how to listen and what to listen for. This sitting makes us a contemplative people, a people who can keep prayer inside us even in the busy-ness of our daily living.

When we sit during the liturgy, it allows us to listen more attentively, or reflect in silence without the distraction of bearing all our weight on our two feet. Sitting is good for those tasks. However, it has major drawbacks in that we can let it become the posture of an audience, and that is something we are not. As the People of God and the Body of Christ, we are called to be active participants in the Mass, not casual observers.

For most of the history of the Church, the first fifteen hundred years, people did not sit. Pews were extremely rare. In most medieval churches, people stood or sat on the floor, with sometimes a narrow bench around the edge of the building for seating. Eastern Orthodox churches never got around to having pews – today in Russia and Greece, worshippers still stand.

Pews were only widely used after the Reformation, and that makes sense when we understand that in Protestant congregations, the sermon – not the Eucharist – was the “main event.” As pews were introduced, they were a mixed blessing. In many churches, they indicated one’s place in society, ranked according to social standing. The rich would have large grand stalls at the front and anyone who sat in the wrong one would find himself in trouble.

Most churches now have pews for sitting and kneelers for kneeling, and sitting and kneeling are now part of our liturgy. Even so, standing is our basic posture. In the book of Exodus, God tells Moses to instruct the Israelites to eat the Passover meal “with your loins girt, sandals on your feet, and your staff in hand,” ready to leave Egypt for the Promised Land. Like the Israelites, we are on a journey, sharing the banquet at this table. We are on our feet, ready to go out into the world and spread the Good News of the Resurrection

Saturday, January 21, 2012


§ You are in a courtroom and the judge or jury enters.

§ At the beginning of a ball game, the band plays the national anthem.

§ You are sitting in a restaurant and an old high school buddy comes over to your table to say hello.

What posture do you assume? You stand: for the judge, for the Star-Spangled Banner, for the friend. It isn’t just habit and it isn’t just emotion, but habit and emotion have something to do with it. And it isn’t just something mandated by Scripture, although we are told in the book of Leviticus to “Stand in the presence of the aged, (and) show respect for the old…”

Standing doesn’t have just one meaning: respect, say, or attention. It varies depending on the circumstances. At Sunday Mass, we stand to enter into the liturgy. We stand to listen to the narrative of Jesus’ life, the Gospel. We stand to profess the Creed. We are on our feet again when we are urged by the presider to lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God. We stand and move forward to receive Communion, and we stand to leave, to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” For us, these are the moments that call for a posture that is engaged, ready to act, a posture that manifests respect and shows attention to the matter at hand.

Think of how we use the notion of “standing” in our expressions. We say that a person stands on their own two feet. We stand up to be counted. We stand by each other. In an old Latin expression, ancient Christians called themselves the circumstantes. This word means ''those standing nearby'' and refers to the ancient posture of liturgical prayer. This posture, from the earliest days of the Church, has been understood as the stance of those who are risen with Christ and seek the things that are above. When we stand for prayer, as we are able, we assume our full stature before God, not in pride, but in humble gratitude for the marvelous thing God has done in creating and redeeming each one of us. By Baptism we have been given a share in the life of God, and the posture of standing is an acknowledgment of this wonderful gift. That is how early Christians saw themselves: as people of the Resurrection, standing around the altar.

Standing is about respect, about attention, about readiness. It is our way of telling God, without words, that we love Him, that we are listening to His word, and that we are ready to do His will.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Tim Tebow is a quarterback for the Denver Broncos and an evangelical Christian. Lately he has been in the news because he drops to one knee and prays after a touchdown or special play, presumably in thanksgiving to God. This posture, which looks like genuflecting, has been called “tebowing,” and it became front page news when the Broncos began winning in the final minutes of a game.

For those of us who participate in specific gestures and postures as part of our practice of religion, this is a good time to ask questions about what we do: questions like Why do we do this? And When and where did this start?

A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of speech or together with spoken words. Before children can even form words, they are able to communicate non-verbally and make a connection between non-verbal actions and words and feelings. This is why making the sign of the cross or bowing can elicit feelings of awe and reverence, even in young children.

From early times, genuflection, which is bending at least one knee to the ground, was a gesture of deep respect for a superior. In the third century B.C., Alexander the Great introduced a form of genuflection into his court, a gesture already in use in Persia. In medieval Europe, respect for a king or noble was demonstrated by going down on one knee. Nowadays, on television and in movies in western cultures like ours, genuflection can be seen during a proposal of marriage. The custom of proposing on one knee goes back to the days of knighthood and chivalry when it was customary for a knight to dip his knee in a show of servitude to his lady and await an indication of her favor.

The Latin word genuflectio, from which the English word is derived, originally meant kneeling rather than the dropping to one knee and immediately rising that became customary in the Middle Ages.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal defines when genuflecting is appropriate: "A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.”

Gestures and postures like genuflecting can help us cultivate a proper reverence toward Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and help us remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Additionally, if we have the information to explain why we do what we do, they can also be tools for evangelizing others.