We know that an important part of parenting is to help our children form good habits. We teach them good hygiene or eating habits. Good habits, which are called virtues, are formed only through repetition. I hope and pray that our children will get into the good habit of going to Sunday Mass without fail. At the beginning of this school year, I would like to remind everyone about the good habits that we must cultivate as we come to Church for Sunday Mass.
Every now and then I receive complaints about certain things that happen in church. It will be beneficial for all of us to remember to do or not to do certain things when we come for Mass. So here goes.
Try your best to come to Mass on time. I do understand that families with children face many challenges in this regard, and finding parking certainly does not help.
As far as possible, try to maintain an atmosphere of silence and prayer as you wait for the Mass to begin. By being reverent in church, we teach our children that we are in a sacred place, awaiting a special celebration.
Dress appropriately as you come to Mass. Especially if you are going to be ministering at the altar, please ensure that your appearance does not distract others from prayer. As ministers we are here to help others to pray; we should not become a hindrance. Even though I am glad that all of you make the effort to come to Mass, I would like to encourage everyone to show reverence also by the way we dress. As parents, do insist with your children that they dress in a dignified manner.
Please switch off all cell phones, Blackberries (blueberries, strawberries) and anything else that makes noise. If we really want to pray, we cannot keep open our lines of communication with the outside world. We need to focus totally on the Lord who speaks to us and feeds us.
Participate in every way you can. The Mass becomes truly a community celebration when all of us take an active part in the liturgy. The Mass is not celebrated just by the priest. He offers the Mass in the name of the community but we need to be active participants by our singing and praying.
Please observe the Eucharistic fast as a mark of respect for the Body and Blood of the Lord. The rules of fasting before Holy Communion have not changed. Canon law (#919) says: “Whoever is to receive the blessed Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before Holy Communion from all food and drink, with the sole exception of water and medicine. However the elderly and those who are suffering from some illness, as well as those who care for them, may receive the blessed Eucharist even if within the preceding hour they have consumed something.
Limit movement during Mass. Constant movement in and out of the pews can be very distracting. I strongly urge everyone to stay in their place especially during the consecration because that is the most solemn, the most sacred moment of the Mass. In the Holy Family Chapel we want to be welcoming to young families with children. We try very hard to let the children be children. However, I would like to urge the parents to watch over their little ones especially if they become a big distraction to the congregation’s prayer.
Make room for everyone. I often feel bad for people who are standing during the entire Mass while there are so many empty spaces in the pews. If only we can all move in, we will be able to accommodate everyone. Sometimes ushers invite people to empty seats but they prefer to stand. It is easier to concentrate when you have a seat.
Do not leave before the Mass is ended. While I do recognize an occasional need to leave early, trying to beat everyone to the parking lot does not say much about our love for the liturgy. Some parishioners would like to leave the church straight from the communion line. We need to spend time in thanksgiving to the Lord who has just come into our hearts. How can the host leave the house when the Guest has just arrived?
What I have written in this column are merely gentle reminders. I know we all love the Eucharist and love our parish. If we pay attention to these guidelines, hopefully we can help everyone to pray better. In the process we will have a deeper experience of the Risen Lord and the abundant blessings of the Lord will descend upon our parish community.
Let us look forward to another great year. Please continue to support our parish with your prayers and your generous gifts. God bless you!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...