Catholic Calisthenics

When we attend Mass, we are expected to bring our body, mind, and spirit to the celebration. Even though it may be tough to make it out of the bed on Sunday mornings, getting our body here is probably the easiest of the three. Making sure our mind and spirit are here with our body requires a little more effort.

Especially in today’s culture, we have become very passive and are more accustomed to watching something happen than making it happen. In some of the mega-churches, worship has even become a passive activity with nice plush seats where you can sit and watch the work of the pastor, musicians and video tech people. In our celebration of Mass however, we are expected not just to sit and listen, but also to stand, kneel, sing and pray.

Participation must also be external, so that internal participation can be expressed and reinforced by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes, and by the acclamations, responses, and singing. The quality of our participation in such sung praise comes less from our vocal ability than from the desire of our hearts to sing together of our love for God. Participation in the Sacred Liturgy both expresses and strengthens the faith that is in us. (Sing to the Lord, #13)

These actions performed with our bodies help to bring our mind and spirit to the celebration. Doing this as a community of believers can give us strength to persist through dark times. Knowing others also share our love for God can give us the courage to share the message with others who may not know or may have forgotten the love of God for them.

Getting here is only the first step. Sit, stand, speak up, and sing: these are the actions necessary to worship with our body, mind and spirit.

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