Monday, October 15, 2012

CHURCH ETIQUETTE: MANNERS IN CHURCH


Please listen here to this Podcast by Father Broom on this important topic

Imagine that you are invited to visit the palace of a King, something you had desired all of your life.   You are introduced to come before “His Majesty”, who is seated on a high and awesome throne, surrounded by countless servants obedient to even the slightest order given by His Majesty.   The Royal exterior is more than impressive:  a scepter in hand, golden crown on head in which are embedded jewels, many glimmering diamonds.

What would your behavior reflect in the presence of so sublime, exalted and majestic a scene and person? Undoubtedly you would come well groomed on the exterior and the interior disposition of your heart would be reverence, awe, submission and obedience.

Hypothetically imagine if you were to arrive late, poorly dressed, chewing gum, talking trivialities while in the presence of this King. What do you think would be the reaction of the King as well as His subjects? Surprise to the point of shock, immediate separation from the presence of the King, chastisement by incarceration in the dungeon, set aside for miscreants, eventual death through the sword.

This being the case should not our reverence for the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Jesus in the Holy Mass, be much greater than our reverence for the earthly King?

What are some ways in which we might be manifesting irreverence toward the King of Kings and Lord of Lords especially in the context of the Palace of the King, the Church, and the greatest of  events, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Let us highlight some of the most common offenses leveled against the King.

1.    PUNCTUALITY.  Lack of punctuality at Mass is all too frequent.  Would you show up late for the movies, or the opera or Super-bowl Sunday, or the last game of the World-series, or for your graduation ceremony the day you receive your diploma? Hardly! However, how easy it is to be flippant, nonchalant and lackadaisical in our assistance at Mass.

2.     CELL-PHONES.   Leave them at home or in the car. First, if you have one in your pocket psychologically you are waiting for some message which distracts you from the Mass. Second, if it goes off you are totally distracted. Third, when it goes off everybody in the Church is distracted and that includes the priest-celebrant who acts in “Persona-Christi”—in the person of Christ.  No person nor message prevails over the Person and message of Jesus Christ.

3.     USELESS CHATTER.  In Church and especially in the context of Holy Mass there should be absolute silence.  The Church is the House of God and the house of prayer. Jesus once expressed great anger when His Father’s House was transformed into a marketplace, in which he made a whip and expelled those who were desecrating the  Temple.  Holy Mass is by far the greatest prayer in the whole universe;at every Mass the angels stand in awe at the sublimity of God descending on the altar and entering into human hearts- a privilege that even the angels do not have!  Useless talking, chatter and joking around are totally out of place in the presence of His Majesty, Jesus the Lord and King.  Why is this evil? First, those who talk to others are rude to God because it is His House and it is to Him we should be speaking. Second, others who hear the talking are being disturbed and distracted from their prayers and attention in Mass and will receive fewer graces. Lastly, the sense of sacred and mystery is lost when bombarded by a cacophony of noises!
Our Lady of Fatima warned us about the dangers of immodesty!

4.    MODESTY.  Never forget as Christian-Catholics  our dignity. We are created in the image and likeness of God. Through Baptism we are temples of the Holy Spirit.  Upon receiving Holy Communion we become Living Tabernacles or Sanctuaries of the Eucharistic Lord. If that were not enough, St Paul defines the Christian as the “Ambassador of Christ”.  An Ambassador represents the President of the country, the country in its totality as well as each individual citizen of that country.  Christians represent the Lord Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Worthy of note is the following: Christians/Catholics are not simply one hour a week at Mass on Sunday, but rather 24-7--- meaning, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.  Never can we change who we are, have an identity change.  We are called to follow Jesus always in word, deed and manner of dress.  What are the evils that flow from immodesty in dress?  First, the woman lowers her own dignity as daughter of God. Second, she can easily be a source of temptation for the many men that are present in church. Men are very visual and due to the effects of Original sin, eyes wander and can easily stop and focus on the forbidden! Lastly, both Jesus and Mary are highly offended.   For women the Blessed Virgin Mary must always be the model in all realms and aspects of life. Mary should be model in the way of speech, action, and dress.  A woman should express dignity and beauty but never degrade herself to being provocative to the point of being a source of temptation, scandal and sin!  Lord Jesus save us from winning the “Millstone award” for immodesty in dress!

5.    IRREVERENCE AT COMMUNION.  By far the most important moment in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is Holy Communion.  An all-important reminder: Holy Communion is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The consecrated Host is really and truly the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. Therefore, He should be received with the greatest reverence, respect and adoration--- never in a sloppy, flippant, mechanical or distracted manner.  Hands should be folded reverently, before receiving Jesus a reverential bow towards the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  When the priest/minister offers the Body of Christ a resounding AMEN should be pronounced, meaning that we truly believe—this is an act of faith—that it is Jesus the Lord.  Furthermore, remember the three indispensable conditions to receive Jesus worthily: 1) faith that the Host is really Jesus, 2) an hour of fasting before Holy Communion, 3) the soul being in the state of grace—meaning not having mortal sin one one’s conscience. 

6.    RUSHING/HOUSE ON FIRE.  There are persons who after receiving Holy Communion rush out of the church as if their pants were on fire. Rude behavior! If one were invited to dinner, after desert he would not rush out of the house without thanking the hosts. On the contrary, thanksgiving and gratitude is the condiment that spices up our daily life. Should we not be grateful to the Lord?  The word “Eucharist” actually means “Thanksgiving.”  In conclusion, in God’s house we must maintain the greatest reverence. Every Mass we should participate fully, actively and consciously as if it were our first Mass, our last  Mass and the only Mass on which we will be judged for all eternity!

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