The Procession

main image

Why do we have a procession from the back of the Church to begin Mass? As with the past topics we have covered, the physical actions we perform in our Faith convey a message which would take much longer to say with words. Case in point, the procession takes about a minute, while its explanation takes 3-4 minutes.

A procession always has a destination; you process to something. In our case, we process to the altar which represents Christ, so at its foundation it is a procession toward God.

Now while it is technically only the ministers who process down the aisle, they represent the larger assembly. One of the reasons we all face the same direction in the pews is to reflect this. We are all moving in the same direction, moving toward God. This unified movement toward God is very important, for it is a reflection on how all of us outside of Mass should be living our life, toward God. We are growing in holiness together, not as individuals.

The more unified in this act we are, the smoother and easier the road, the procession, will be. If you have ever been to a Packer Game or any stadium environment, you probably have experienced the same frustration I have when encountering someone who is walking against the flow of traffic. It causes a ripple of chaos.

The same holds true when someone stops suddenly or is just standing there. It causes great disruption. So it is on our spiritual procession toward God, the more we grow in the holiness, the less we move away from God or stop because of sin, the quicker and easier it is for not only ourselves to reach him, but others as well.

It is one of the strange yet beautiful aspects of our Faith, when we grow in holiness, the people it benefits the most are those around us. We make it easier for them to move to God. So the procession before Mass represents the procession of all of our lives. Our procession toward holiness, our procession toward God.


Sign of the Cross

main image

We begin the Mass and every prayer with the Sign of the Cross.

The Sign of the Cross is uniquely Catholic. If you have ever prayed with another Christian, you may have noticed that they do not begin or end with the signing themselves. So, if you see someone make the sign of the cross, they are almost always Catholic.

With any outward action, there is something being expressed, and something being internalized. When we make the Sign of the Cross, we are not only expressing that we are Catholic, but also what we believe. We express our belief in the Triune God, that God is a Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have been saved by Christ and his cross.

What is being internalized when we make the Sign of the Cross are many things, but I want to focus on the three which reflect the action we do. When we make the Sign of the Cross we begin by touching our forehead, a reminder to us that we are called to know God, we then touch our chest which contains the heart, we are called to love God, finally we touch our shoulders, we are called to serve God as we carry the Gospel upon us.

You can see why this is a perfect way to begin Mass and every prayer. For every prayer helps us to know God more, love him more, and be inspired to serve him more.

Romano Guardini, who was a priest, had this to say about the sing of the cross:

“It is the holiest of all signs. Make a large cross, taking time, thinking what you do. Let it take in your whole being—body, soul, mind, will, thought, feelings, your doing and not-doing—and, by signing it with the cross, strengthen and consecrate your whole self in the strength of Christ, in the name of the triune God.”

On Bended Knee

main image

Fr. Timothy Schumaker shares reflections on some of the signs, symbols and gestures of our Catholic faith that we do so easily, to remind us why we do things so that we can bring more intentionality into them when we do them.

Why, when we enter and exit our pew, do we genuflect? The first thing we need to keep in mind is who we are genuflecting to, now obviously that is God, but we genuflect in a particular way to Jesus in the Eucharist.

You may notice that when Father Dennis and I come to the foot of the sanctuary we bow, that is because our tabernacle is not directly behind the altar, if it was, we would genuflect.

Now at its core, genuflecting is a gesture of obedience and humility as well as a sign of respect. In the Middle Ages when coming in the presence of a king one would genuflect with their left knee. Catholics genuflect to God with their right knee to show that God is not only a earthly king, but a heavenly one.

But there is something to this act which I did not even consider until I was doing research for this reflection. And that is that the very posture of genuflecting places us in a unbalanced and a vulnerable state. When genuflecting, we are easily pushed down, we are physically in a compromised position, we are at the mercy of the one we are genuflecting to.

The symbolism of this is clear, every time we genuflect we are placing our life at the mercy of God. We are speaking with our bodies and saying, Lord, I place myself, my life, at your mercy, to obey you in humility and respect, I place all of the sufferings, anxieties, all of the joys, of my life before you. They are all yours, do with them what you will. The beautiful part is that we are doing this to a God who has placed himself at our mercy, containing himself in a piece of bread, we are just doing to God what he has already done for us.

12345678910 ... 6566