Sunday, December 1, 2013
You probably noticed that the lights in our church were dimmed today when you came in. Yes, we paid the electric bill and everything was working as planned. The lights will be dimmed before Masses to help provide a more prayerful space. Many wish to enter into private prayer before our communal prayer of Mass begins and the dimmed lighting is a visual reminder for all of us to take our conversations either into the lobby, the Prayer Garden, or Meeting Room South.
There are a few other changes that we are implementing at Mass. We will continue to bring Holy Communion to those who are mobility impaired. We ask that you sit on the aisle and let an usher know that you cannot approach the Altar for Communion. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is that those who are mobility impaired that would like to receive the Precious Blood of our Lord will be asked to be seated in the first pew of each section. This is to prevent spillage and desecration of the Eucharist.
Silence has an important role during our Mass. We live in a noisy world and for most of us silence is foreign. For us before, during, and after Mass, silence is a reminder that we have entered a space that is in the world but not of the world. And in this unworldly space, silence helps us to direct our thoughts to our loving God. We enter quietly, leaving the noise of the street and the world behind.
During the Mass we will be putting extra emphasis on our silence. Prior to the Opening Prayer the priest says, “Let us pray.” In the silence that follows these words, we pray. We silently pray for those we know are in need. We pray for ourselves and our families. Father then gathers our prayers and offers them to the Lord; this is why this prayer is called the “Collect” (say CALL – ECT) because Father collects our prayers into one.
After the First Reading there’s a minute of silence as we reflect upon the Word of God and let it reverberate within us. After the Second Reading we again reflect upon what God is saying to us through His Holy Word. Then, after the Homily we again enter into silence to ask ourselves how we may apply the words of Jesus and the homily to our own lives. After Communion we all sit silently and praise and pray to God in our hearts, giving thanks for the Gift we have received.
In total, there are some 3½ minutes of silence in the Mass. The silence won’t add more time to our celebration, but it will make our celebration more meaningful to all.
Finally, we are hoping to incorporate more reverence into our Mass. We show reverence through our posture, our gesture and our movement. In the celebration of Mass we raise our hearts, minds and voices to God, but we are creatures composed of body as well as spirit and so our prayer is not confined to our minds, hearts and voices, but is expressed by our bodies as well.
When our bodies participate in our prayer we pray with our whole person. During Mass we assume different postures: genuflecting, standing, kneeling, sitting, and we are also invited to make a variety of gestures. These postures and gestures are not merely ceremonial. They have profound meaning and, when done with understanding, can enhance our personal participation in Mass.
In addition to serving as a vehicle for the prayer of beings composed of body and spirit, the postures and gestures in which we engage at Mass have another very important function. The Church sees in these common postures and gestures both a symbol of the unity of those who have come together to worship and a means of fostering that unity.