CHURCH ETIQUETTE: REVIVING THE SENSE OF THE SACRED

“…When you pray and you do not receive, it is because
you have prayed wrongly, wanting to indulge your passions…” (James 4:3)
As we go to Church today, we should endeavour to cultivate
a deeper “sense of the sacred”. Many a times, we tend to pray a lot and get no
response from God, the passage above (James 4:3) explains it all. Apart from
knowing exactly how to pray to God (which is summarized in ADORATION,
CONTRINTION, SUPPLICATION, AND THANKSGIVING), I bring another dimension, which
is should call our attention and remind us of the presence of God in our midst
(sense of the sacred). Hence, I shall come up with some helpful tips, which I
believe we already know. Let it always serve as a reminder whenever we are in
His presence, thus, aiding us to pray well, and our prayers, acceptable to God.
HOW WE SHOULD COMPORT
OURSELVES IN THE CHURCH (AT MASS): CHURCH ETIQUETTE
1.
Fast before Mass (for communicants). It is the Church’s law that one fasts for
at least an hour before receiving Holy Communion. The purpose is to help us
prepare to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Water does not break this fast. However,
if you’re on medication, you’re exempted also from this fast.
2.
No Food and Drink in Church. The exceptions would be a drink for little
children, water for the priest or choir (if discreet) and water for those who
are ill. Bringing snacks into church is not appropriate; the church is a place
of prayer and reflection. You may consume your food and drink after the Mass.
3.
Men take your hats off. It is impolite to wear a hat into a church for a man.
While this is a cultural norm, it is one that we ought to follow closely. Just
as we take off hats for the Pledge of Allegiance, we do so in church too; as a
sign of respect.
4.
Don’t chew gum in church. It breaks your fast, it is distracting, it is
considered impolite in a formal setting, and it doesn’t help us pray better.
Can you imagine the priest/bishop popping gum in during Mass?
5.
Cross yourself with Holy Water on entering and leaving the church. This is a
reminder of our Baptism, which made us members of Christ’s Church. Just try to
remain mindful of what is happening when you do so and don’t do it without
saying a prayer.
6.
Dress modestly and appropriately.
7.
Show up at least a few minutes earlier. If for some reasons, you can’t be on
time, then try to sit at the back so you don’t disturb others. Coming to the Mass
early allows you to pray and prepare yourself better for Mass.
8.
Cell phones should never be used in Mass for calls or texting. The exceptions
are emergencies … please walk out of church to do so. Also, if you are using
the phone for readings or prayers, please try to be discreet. My humble
submission/opinion is to switch off your phones at Mass.
9.
When we enter and leave the Church, genuflect toward the Tabernacle. Christ is
present for our sake. By allowing our right knee to touch the floor, we
acknowledge that He is our Lord and God. If someone is physically unable to
genuflect, then a bow is sufficient. During Mass, if you walk in front of the
altar or tabernacle, bow reverently.
10.
Please be quiet while in church. Once you enter the sanctuary – it is not the
time or place to visit with those around you. If you must talk, do so as
quietly and briefly as possible. Remember that your conversation might be
disturbing someone who is in the mood of prayer, which is much more important.
Sssshhhhhhhh!
11.
Take ‘loud children’ to the back. Every parent knows that sometimes the baby is
going to have a bad day, hence, don’t make everyone else’s day bad as well. Sit
at the end of a pew if you can, and take the kid to the back quickly. Don’t wait
too long before you make a move. There is no reason to be embarrassed about
having to quiet your child at the back of the church. It is worse to allow them
to disturb the Mass continually.
12.
Prepare your offering before Mass. Christ tells us not to let your left hand
know what your right hand is doing when you make your offering. Keeping the
basket while you get your wallet out can sometimes become quite a scene.
13.
No reading of the bulletin during Mass except for the liturgy of the Word (the
moment of first reading, psalm, and Gospel). Outside that, you are expected to participate
actively in the other parts of the Mass. Imagine if you invited a guest to your
house and before dinner (or during) they decided to read a magazine or chat on
the phone instead of talking to you. That is what happens in God’s house when
you read the bulletin.
14.
Respect the boundaries others may have. You might want to hold hands to pray,
they may not. They might be sick and not want to shake during the sign of
peace. These are all OK. Do not make any unnecessary judgment because they
worship differently.
15.
Bow before receiving Holy Communion. If it is God, then show your respect with
a bow of the head. This ancient practice has continued until this day. However,
if you are already kneeling down to receive the Holy Eucharist, there is no
need to bow.
16.
Do not receive from the chalice if you are sick. This is an act of charity and
it is not necessary to receive both the Body and Blood of Christ in order to
receive the entirety of Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity. Our Catechism
tells us that Christ is received wholly in either kind alone (that is, either
by receiving the Body alone or the Blood).
17.
Do not leave too early. We should stay to the end of the Mass, when the priest
says “go in peace…glorifying God by your lives…”
18.
Pray after Mass, if you feel called to do so. It is a good custom, though not
required to offer a prayer of thanksgiving after Mass is over. The Mass itself
is a Thanksgiving.
19.
Leave quietly so you don’t disturb others who want to stay and pray.
While putting all these into consideration, we pray that our loving Father would accept our worship and supplications. Amen
HAVE
A BLESSED SUNDAY…

SHALOM!!!

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