Enhancing Our Worship Celebrations
May 22, 2016
Coming together to celebrate Mass, especially each weekend and on special Holy Days, is at the hub and heart of our life as the Catholic Faith Community. We each have an important role to play in enabling our celebrations of Mass to give glory to God and to be upbeat occasions of renewal for ourselves and for all who come.
Hopefully, the following two principles will guide what we do and what we might try to avoid doing as we gather to celebrate the Eucharistic Liturgy. The first guiding principle is that of being sensitive to the needs of those with whom we gather for Mass. The other one is that we acknowledge that there is a time and place for everything.
First impressions are significant. Providing greeters and ushers as we do goes a long way to make people feel welcome. Thanks to all who serve in these important roles of hospitality.
It is natural for many of us to engage in pleasant conversations with others as we come to church. Christ is present in each of us, especially as we gather for worship. Here is where both of the principles that I expressed above come into play. While Christ is present in our midst whenever two or three of us gather for worship, at the same time, many of us welcome an opportunity to pray without a lot of distracting noise in the background. As we grow in the awareness that others, like ourselves at times, treasure a quiet setting for prayer, hopefully this will influence the way we act when we enter the worship space. We honor Christ Who is reserved in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle as we grow in the awareness that both we and others value a setting where there is as little distracting noise as is possible and then respond accordingly. Perhaps a good rule of thumb for sharing with others in conversation is that of doing this before and after Mass in areas such as the church vestibule or narthex, in the school cafeteria at St. Mary’s and in Fellowship Hall at Resurrection Parish.
Other ways in which we might express our reverence for Christ and for one another as we enter the worship space are as follows: 1) by turning off our cell phones and other electronic devices; 2) by choosing from time to time to sit in a different section of the worship area. As we do this, we can minimize the tendency to regard a certain pew as “my” or “our” turf. As a visitor, I would feel uncomfortable if I got the impression that I was robbing a given individual or family of “their space” in the worship area. At each celebration of Mass, the worship space in which we gather belongs to all.
There are additional ways in which we might reverence the Presence of Christ in others. In sharing the Sign of Peace, we should try to be sensitive to ways in which persons feel uncomfortable in doing this and then respond accordingly. Many of us honor the Lord’s Presence in one another by refraining from receiving from the cup when we have a cold or some other ailment that may be contagious. Unless we have an emergency, many of us honor Christ in one another by remaining in our places in the worship space until the Mass ministers and clergy have left the worship area at the end of Mass.
As we work to be sensitive to the persons with whom we gather for worship and embrace the guideline that there is a time and a place for everything, we can contribute much to enable our celebrations of Mass to be occasions for giving glory to God and to provide edification for all who gather to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries of our Common Faith.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor