When I returned to the Catholic faith in college, I didn't know much of anything about the Mass. Listen to my experience returning to Mass after having been away for a long time.
Readings: GN 3:9-15; PS130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; 2 COR 4:13—5:1; MK 3:20-35
That was me about 15 years ago as an undergraduate student
at the University of Missouri - Rolla
(Renamed Missouri S&T since then)
This homily was the third in the series. Click on the links below for the other homilies.
Below is my article for this week's bulletin. It is not my homily, though some of the same information can be found in my homily.
Entering the Church and Gestures
When we enter the Church building, we can see a small font of water near the doors. These holy water fonts are reminders of our baptism. At baptism, we are united to the Mystical Body of Christ, that is, the Church, the community of believers. When we bless ourselves by dipping our hand into the holy water and make the Sign of the Cross we recall our baptism when holy water came in contact with our bodies and the words “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” were used. Each time we do this we are reiterating that we belong to Christ who claims us at our baptism.
We remind ourselves that we are in the presence of God when we genuflect toward the tabernacle (the golden box in the front and center of our sanctuary) before entering the pew to kneel or sit down. Genuflecting is lowering the body down on the right knee until it reaches the floor. We also make the Sign of the Cross at the same time. Genuflecting is a sign of respect, submission, and adoration, which we offer to Christ, who is truly present in the Eucharist and kept in the tabernacle.
Often times we kneel and pray before Mass begins. Kneeling expresses humility, penance, submission, adoration, honor, our own lowliness, and reverence. It is a common posture for prayer that even Jesus used (Mk 14:35 and Lk 22:41).
By spending time in silent prayer before Mass, we can better prepare ourselves to enter into these sacred mysteries. During this time of prayer, we should focus on being in the presence of God, handing our distractions and concerns over to Him, and anticipating what is about to occur at Mass, that is, the one sacrifice of Christ on the Cross made present to us again through sacramental signs.
Before Mass even begins we are preparing ourselves through prayers of the mind, of the heart, and, through these gestures and positions, of the body.