Carmel Bulletin, 15 February 2015
In time past, going to church looked different to what it does today. Certainly a lot of that has to do with how the church looked and how the Mass was celebrated. But it also has something to do with the “little things” that we do.
Dressing up in our “Sunday best” was just the beginning of a whole collection of gestures and actions that were considered signs of reverence for our God who we worship and who is present with us when we worship.
Some people comment that such reverence is lost today, or at least not what it used to be. Yet within our rituals, acts of reverence are still present and encouraged. Genuflecting to the real presence of Christ in the tabernacle; bowing to the altar upon which Christ is made present, also to the Blessed Sacrament before we receive it; signing ourselves with the cross at the proclamation of the Gospel; the postures of standing and kneeling; observing periods of silence before, during and after Mass. These are just some of the acts of reverence that we are asked to observe.
Now some people may rightly point out that observing such external acts of reverence doesn’t mean that a person is necessarily committing themselves to a reverent attitude or manner internally. Only that person and God will ever know for certain. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are irrelevant or unnecessary.
Mindful and well-informed encouragement of reverent actions from a young age helps to shape a reverent attitude. Furthermore, movements, actions and visuals (for all, but especially for children) can instantaneously communicate a profound meaning that is often harder to successfully articulate in words.