You might as well know now I don’t love Latin Mass. It falls somewhere between beer and Bruce Springsteen on the list of things I suspect I should enjoy and don’t especially.
But it was at an extraordinary form Mass a couple of years ago that I really began to consider reverence at Mass. I was in the back with a fractious baby Scout and suddenly, everyone was kneeling.
Yeah. I know. Everyone always kneels at Mass. Except—not really. Not the old, or those with cranky knees, or people like I was, skulking in the back without a kneeler. Certainly not me when I’m pregnant or holding a wiggling baby or experiencing a breastfeeding-induced sugar crash. Which is, admittedly, quite a lot of the time.
But at this little New England church everyone hit the ground and under peer pressure I grumblingly lowered myself to the hard stone ground. And it occurred to me, that if this business is what I think it is, nothing else will do.
So began my foray into deliberate reverence. Since then, I’ve begun to receive on the tongue and since last Lent, to veil. I am not an expert by any means, but here are some other ideas to consider to increase your reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament:
- Veiling. If you’re afraid to commit or short on funds, maybe take a baby step with a cloche or an infinity scarf.
- Not grooming in church. This is so small but challenging. If the sanctuary is filled with the special presence of Christ, should you be brushing off dog hairs and leaving them behind? Should you re-braid your daughter’s hair? Should you pick a hangnail? Probably not.
- Kneeling when it’s inconvenient. I mean, use reason here. But I try to push myself a bit more than I might otherwise.
- Receiving on the tongue. I started because I decided jutting out half a claw while I clutched my baby then tossing it into my mouth was probably not the most respectful practice. It still feels funny, but I can handle being a weirdo once a week.
- Remember fictional and real-life leaders. The one that occurred to me in the foyer of that New England church was Aslan. For you it might be Queen Victoria or Elizabeth II (can you tell I’m into costume dramas?) or President Bartlett. Would you remain sitting when President Josiah Bartlett walked into the room? Would your mind wander toward your Sunday dinner menu if Aslan appeared? How much more so should you focus on reverence in the Mass.
- Read the readings in advance. I’m good about this when I’ve got a baby the right age for a pre-Mass nap, but terrible otherwise.
- Offer a prayer before the Eucharist. I haven’t tried memorizing one, but J uses one from his old Book of Common Prayer days.
What strategies do you use for concentrating on Mass and taking it seriously?
(Hop over to This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes.)