Why do we have to attend Mass every Sunday?
Throughout our two thousand years of Church history, Sunday has been set aside as “the Lord’s Day,” to celebrate God’s greater creation of the world. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The Sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money” (CCC 2172).
Observing Sunday as the Lord’s Day helps us to keep our worship of God outward, visible, public, and regular. Sunday is also the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. The Church instructs us to attend Mass each Sunday because that is where Jesus gives us what we need to stay strong in the world.
Just as we take food into our bodies, so we take in Christ through the Eucharist. His body is real food and his blood is real drink (John 6:55-57). The resulting grace helps us to overcome our daily temptations and fulfill our responsibilities. And our faithful Communion will bring us eternal life in Heaven.
Why do Catholics do that?
Why do Catholics cross their forehead, lips, and chest before listening to the Gospel at Mass? One reason we cross ourselves before listening to the Gospel is to ask God to let its message dominate our thoughts, words, and feelings. Before the priest or deacon proclaims the Gospel, we trace the sign of the cross first on the forehead, then the lips, and finally over the heart. Some even say a prayer similar to this, “May the Lord purify my understanding, my speech, and my heart, so that I may receive the words of the Gospel.”
The proper posture during the Eucharistic prayer is kneeling. If that is not possible, then the proper posture during this prayer is standing. Those of you who sit in the chairs behind the pews need to decide to do one or the other. But you should not sit during the Eucharistic prayer unless you are physically not able to stand or kneel. I realize that there are no kneelers attached to the chairs, so kneeling is difficult, I ask then that you please remain standing during the prayer. Those who are seated directly in front of the cry room should not stand, but should kneel so that you do not block the view of the parents and children that are in the cry room.
After receiving communion and returning to the pew you may kneel or sit. We will all move to the sitting position when the Eucharist remaining after the distribution has been returned to the tabernacle. You do not have to wait until the deacon has completed the purification of the vessels to be seated.
At our masses that are especially full, 5:00 Saturday, 9:00 and 10:30 Sunday, we ask everyone to sit closer together to make room for those who are standing. Much of the time there is plenty of room in the church for everyone, but it is found in the 12 to 15 inches on either side of you during the mass. Feel free to sit closer together and in doing so make room for your brother and sister in Christ.
Get more out of the Mass
The Mass becomes so familiar that we can find ourselves “checking out” during parts of it. But the more we put into the entire celebration, the more we get out of it. Try these tips …
Take notice of others as you get out of your car or walk into the church. Smile, nod, and say hello. Give a vigorous Sign of Peace. Mass is meant to be shared as a community celebration.
Try arriving early to spend some quiet time in the presence of Christ in the tabernacle Praying before our Lord can help put you in the right frame of mind when Mass begins.
Take a seat up front and move to the center of the pew so you don’t miss a thing. Let those who arrive late have the seats in back and give the spots on the aisle to those with a special need (a parent with a baby, a Eucharistic minister, etc.).
Leaving Mass Early?
Many parishioners have commented on the number of people who leave weekend Masses early -often right after Communion- and ask what can be done about it.
Since the days when priests would stand in the back to bar the doors to early leavers is gone, the most we can do is appeal to those who don't have to leave early to remain until the Presider’s procession has left the altar area. Everyone understands that there are situations which force people to leave before the end of Mass, a job, an ill family member at home, or some other emergency.
What parishioners are concerned about, however, is the exodus to the parking lot during Communion. Our priests and our parish respectfully request that unless you have a grave reason to leave early, please remain for the entire Mass.
To bow . . a forgotten gesture
How do we show reverence and love for Christ when we enter and leave the church? First, we greet each other as we would greet Christ. ("Where two or three of you gather, there I am.") Then we bow to the altar.
Why? On this altar we place our bread and wine that becomes Christ’s body and blood: This is the place of sacrifice. At this altar we dine with God: This is Easter's banquet table. The altar is the table of every grace and blessing!
And more: The Rite of Dedication of an Altar(#4) says: "Because it is at the altar that the memorial of the Lord is celebrated and his body and blood given to the people, the church’s writers see in the altar a sign of Christ himself— hence they affirm: The altar is Christ."
So let's bow to Christ at the altar before taking our places. And let’s bow again, when we depart. Not just a nod of the head: Make a slow, deep bow from the waist. (Don't bend your neck.) This is a prayer of the whole body, a wordless prayer!
Christ is the offering. Christ the meal. Christ the altar of sacrifice. Christ the paschal banquet table.
Saint Columbkille Parish Home
200 East 6th Street
Papillion, Nebraska 68046
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 01:25 PM