GOOD MANNERS IN THE HOUSE OF GOD....
When we are invited to be a guest at a home, we put on our best manners. If you were invited to be a guest for a King, Queen, Governor, multi-millionaire, or even to be a guest at the Vatican residence of the Pope, undoubtedly you would manifest your best manners. What about if you were invited to be a guest at the royal palace of the "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords", Jesus the Son of the living God. Actually you are, every time you go to church, and especially when you attend Holy Mass. What are some "Church manners" or church etiquette that is merited? Let us go through the list.
1. PUNCTUALITY! Arrive early for Mass! The better you are prepared, the more graces the Lord has in store for you. None of us would show up half-way through the World Series or a famous opera or the graduation ceremony of our son or daughter. Be early to greet the Lord. he is God and he deserves it!
2. MODESTY! Remember that we are created in the image and likeness of God; moreover, through Baptism, we are temples of the living God. St Paul calls Christians, "Ambassadors of Christ". Followers of Jesus and Mary should always spread the sweet fragrance of Christ by decorum in dress, but especially in God's house. An immodesty dressed person can distract another person the whole mass and be a source of sin!
3. CELL-PHONES! Do not even bring them into church. If your are awaiting an important call, then go to a later Mass. A cell-phone that goes off in Mass distracts from the whole sacred character of the Mass. Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Ben. 15) noted a loss of the sense of the sacred in the modern world, especially in Mass. He also noted that general morality declines in proportion to the loss of the sense of the sacred in the Mass and Liturgy!
4. NO GUM! Mass is not a baseball game, ball-park, or tennis match! Worse yet, many stick their gum underneath the church pew. What could be more rude. Furthermore, chewing gum breaks the hour fast!
5. NO TALKING! If you are talking in church to another, then this distracts the others who come to church and Mass to talk to God. Furthermore, it irritates greatly those who come to church to meet and talk to God! Remember that church is the house of God!
6. PARTICIPATE! Many come in to Mass as if they were spectators in an opera or play. The church insists that those who come to Mass should participate fully, consciously, and actively in Mass. Learn the responses; relish moments of silence; sing w joyfully when called to! Many Masses are like the one in the the funeral about to be transported to the cemetery: no response to anything!
7. CHILDREN'S GAMES, CHEERIOS, COINS! Avoid bringing these to Mass! The little ones can do without these for an hour. Parents, you are the first teachers of your children, already teach them how to participate in Mass. Inculcate in the little ones the sense of the sacred!
8. COMMUNION! Of course the most important part of the Mass is Jesus truly present in Holy Communion! Receive Jesus with faith, love and devotion! If you have fallen out of the state of grace, then run to the confessional some time before Sunday Mass so that you can receive Holy Communion. The most important moment in our life, is when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion. "As the deer yearns for the running waters, so my soul yearns for you, my Lord and God." We should hunger and thirst for the Bread of Life, at least every Sunday!
9. END OF MASS! Do not leave Mass early! Wait for the final blessing and song, then you can leave with Jesus in your mind and heart. While leaving, no arguing in the car, or honking at other cars! Remember who you have just received!
10 MARY AS MODEL! After Mary received Jesus in her heart at the moment of the Annunciation, she went quickly to bring Jesus to others, to her cousin St Elizabeth, an elderly woman expecting John the Baptist. After the final blessing, the Mass is really not over but mist be lived and brought to others like Mary. May Mary teach us to love the Mass, live the Mass and bring the fruits of the Mass to the whole world.