Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why Catholics Excercise at Mass

When finding out I was going to Sunday Mass, a secular friend remarked that "Kevin is off to do his weekly calisthenics."  To the outsider, the various physical activities Catholics do during mass can seem odd.  (And admit it, it sounds pretty odd when you read it phrased like that.)  To the outsider of the Latin Mass, this behavior is even stranger.  Even many Catholics find the idea of kneeling for 15 minutes straight during Mass to be a little odd.  Sometimes, even those in love with the mass fight find all the posture a bit silly, or it might even lose its meaning.  Yet I submit that if we actually stop and think about what we are doing, we will never look at the Mass the same way again.

As mentioned in previous entries, the Catholic mass uses everything for the worship of God.  Our bodies are no exception.  The human body is the greatest creation of God.  If we use fine gold and other precious metals (which we all treasure dearly in today's world) for God's glory, how can we not use ourselves?  Our actions during Mass take on a brand new meaning when looked at through this prism.

Even something as simple as sitting can take on a profound meaning.  When one sits, one is always told by their parents to sit up straight.  Sitting up straight implies full attention towards what is going on.  Outside of that, we are passive.  There's nothing more that we can do but pay attention and wait.  At every Mass, we are awaiting the moment when redemption is applied to us.

There are other times when we stand, for example during the Gospel.  When a general addresses his troops before war, those troops are standing and at the ready.  When we sing the Gloria or the creed, we are akin to one who has found a great truth, and stands from a high place proclaiming it to anyone who comes his way.  The Gloria is the announcement the angels gave when announcing Christ to the world.  When the Creed is proclaimed, we proclaim for all to hear the central truths of the faith, and that we personally confess them.

Other times we bow.  A bow is always a sign of reverence for something greater than yourselves.  It has long been a pious tradition of many to bow when they hear the name Jesus.  Others bow whenever one proclaims "Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning.."  When we bow, we place ourselves subject to that greater thing.  (The same could be said on a certain level of kneeling.)  Like John the Baptist, we state "He must increase, I must decrease."

Finally, we kneel down with both knees during Mass.  Kneeling is always the most vulnerable position for an individual to be in.  When we kneel in worship before God, we are acknowledging that vulnerability, and also stating that everything is dependant upon him.  That is why for example the Extraordinary Form has Catholics kneeling for the entire canon (or Eucharistic prayer), even if that is to take 10 minutes or longer.  At the very moment of consecration and the offering of the Body and Blood of Christ to the Father, the work of redemption is carried out upon every penitent individual in the entire world, including the individual kneeling in Church.  If there is anything more vulnerable than a full acknowledgement and realization of what utter failures we are, followed by a purging of those failures, I am unaware of such.

That is why posture matters at Mass.  Without it, we could very well be holding something back from God during worship.  So before you kneel, ask yourself why you are kneeling.  If you can't provide an answer, I suggest you think long and hard in finding one.

No comments:

Post a Comment

At this current time due to time constraints comments are moderated. Avoid flaming, chest-thumping and stick on topic and your comments will be quickly approved. Do the opposite and they stay in never never land.