Thoughts for Lenten Observation

Prayer | Fasting | Almsgiving | Everyday Stewardship

Can you recite the Ten Commandments by heart? Several years ago, a national US survey found more people could identify the ingredients in a Big Mac and name the children in the Brady Bunch television show than recite the Ten Commandments. Of course, being able to recite them is not nearly as important as living a life in harmony with them. However, if we simply live to not break them then we are only living out half of our discipleship.

Every commandment calls us to action beyond the simplicity of its words. We are not to kill, but we are also called to support life. We are not to steal, but we are also to share what we have freely. We are to have no other Gods before our God, but we also need to actively praise and glorify Him.

To live a moral life is to do more than follow rules and laws. It is to actively live in a way that gives witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ. This way of living is stewardship. As we focus more on the penitential message of Lent, we need to not just reflect on what we have done wrong, but equally what we have failed to do. To be given so much by a loving God and not share those things with God and His people is wrong as well. Perhaps as we reflect on these things we might find ourselves adding something to our lives that will last for many Lenten seasons to come.

The 10 Commandments of Sacred Liturgy

Overall, parishioners and guests at Assumption do a beautiful job of worshiping and respecting God during liturgy. But, it’s good for all of us to get a reminder about etiquette at Holy Mass. We might call these the “Ten Commandments of Sacred Liturgy” at Assumption:

1. Prepare for Mass. Prepare like you are coming to the banquet at the castle of a king. As you know, we come to the house of the King of kings. So, continue to wear your Sunday best! And, fast from food and drink (unless it’s water or medication) for at least an hour before Mass.

Get to Mass early! Genuflect (or bow if you can’t genuflect) to the Lord in the tabernacle, and pray silently in the pew before Mass begins. Pray for a few moments and get yourself recollected before Mass begins. Please be mindful of others – respect their prayer, make room for them in the pew, and don’t be a distraction.

2. What to do if you come late: wait for the ushers to seat you. Do NOT come in during the readings, especially the Gospel. And, please take a seat in the rear pews so that you won’t distract everyone coming up front. Remember, too, that if you arrive at Mass after the Gospel has been proclaimed, you need to attend another Mass to fulfill your Sunday obligation. Attending Mass includes being present for the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

3. Fully participate in Mass. Listen to the prayers and Word, say the responses and Creed, and SING! The goal is to sing loud enough that you don’t hear my singing voice. Oh, and I truly hope that Sunday Mass is not the first time you’re hearing the readings for that day. You should be praying over and thinking about them during the week.

4. NO TEXT MESSAGES OR CONVERSATIONS DURING MASS. Can you imagine going to dinner with Jesus and texting or talking to others while He is speaking to you?

5. Prepare your offering before Mass. Please avoid distracting others while you go through your purse or wallet during Mass.

6. Be respectful of the Eucharist. This is the biggest one for me. If you are conscious of grave sin, you need to go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion. It is a mortal sin to receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin. Please remain in the pew to make a spiritual communion or come forward and cross your arms for a blessing. Please, please, please don’t be among those about whom St. Paul writes in 1 Cor 11:25-27: “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord”.

7. Bow before receiving the Eucharist and then say “Amen” when the priest says, “the Body of Christ”. Don’t grab or take the Host from him; let the Host be placed on your hand or on your tongue. Consume the Host immediately.

8. Don’t be like Judas who left the first Mass early. You should wait for the priest to process out before you leave. We follow the priest as we follow Christ. Really, though, we should all stay for a moment and give thanks to God for all that we just received at Mass.

9. Hold your applause. Please. We’re not at a concert. The ministers and choir appreciate your support, but they are just leading us in worship. We don’t want to lose our focus on praising God by praising them.

10. Keep holy the Sabbath. EVERY SABBATH. Skipping Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin. Bigger than that is our need for the Eucharist. Jesus basically teaches that a week without the Eucharist is a week with no life (cf. Jn 6:53-54).

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg