When we walk into a church on Saturday night or Sunday, preparing to enter for mass, it isn’t like when you enter the mall or a restaurant; music blaring, people talking loudly and walking fast eagerly trying to get from one store to another. As we all know, when we enter church it is usually quiet, usually the musicians are warming up or starting to practice the mass songs with the congregation. We have all grown up; each of us learned how we are to enter the church and how to participate in mass. But so many times, especially seen in the different generations and types of people, we can look to see how people enter differently, maybe they bow instead of genuflect, some people come in and pray right away, some bow and some genuflect at the tabernacle vs. the alter... so what’s the difference?
Mass obviously starts from our roots: the Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper when Jesus broke bread and shared wine with the apostles. This was the first time that the apostles got a glimpse into what we get to share in and celebrate in every Sunday. We get to be the Apostles at Mass and share in the breaking of the bread every single Sunday, and even every day if we can!
I know when my back hurts I tend to bow more and when I am fine I genuflect… alright I am just kidding but seriously the big difference is….? Well when Jesus is present on the alter we need to make sure that we give the full respect that He deserves, which is to genuflect. When Jesus is not present on the alter but is in the tabernacle or a monstrance it is okay to bow or profoundly bow, which is from the waist down. We always need to remember one of my favorite sayings, “Actions speak louder than words.” If we only give a half bow, quickly genuflect and do the sign of the cross quickly are we truly meaning what we are doing. In those actions we need to make sure that we cross ourselves to show that we believe that first initial prayer of the sign of the cross. We need to make sure that when we do genuflect or bow that we are giving Jesus the most profound respect deserved because He is our Lord and Savior.
Lastly, when we enter church, just as we enter our own homes and our neighbors homes, we should become aware that we are in a home. We are in the Lord’s home when we enter the church and are to respect it as His house as well. We should be taking those moments before Mass and preparing ourselves for the graces we receive in Mass. We should be preparing ourselves and immersing ourselves into God’s presence. We don’t have to wait for Mass to begin in order to feel that God is there, because look around you, “Where two or more are gathered in His name, there He will be.” Also, He is always present in the Tabernacle. But be aware the moment we walk into church isn’t so we can socialize and see our friends… It’s because the Lord has welcomed us into His home to share in a feast with us, the feast that allows for our Salvation.
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