Saturday, November 26, 2016

Liturgical Postures #6 - Excerpts from Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

This is the Solemnity, or great feast, of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. It is true, He is King of the Universe, but is He King of our hearts? By calling ourselves Christians, we are saying we are followers of Christ, thus making Him our King.

We are in the midst of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass worshiping the Father, in Jesus as the King of the Universe, through the Holy Spirit in the way He showed us He wants us to worship Him. We have been examining the profound meanings of the gestures, postures and non-verbals of Holy Mass, so we pick up today where we left off last time.

We were standing getting ready to lift up our hearts to the Lord in the Eucharistic Prayer, which is the center and summit of the entire celebration. Because it is the ultimate prayer of thanksgiving that sanctifies us, and because it is the prayer that offers the Sacrifice of Jesus Himself to the Father, the prayer itself demands that all listen to it with reverence and in silence. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal)

In the Preface, the priest offers the prayer of thanksgiving to the Father in the orans posture. Once again, this is a reminder that the priest is offering the prayer to the Father on behalf of the people, and gathering their prayers to his. This is the prayer that usually begins with the priest saying: “It is truly right and just…” At the end of it, everyone joins the angels and the saints in singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" to the Lord, God of hosts. In this song, we are praising God and showing our unity in worship.

After this, all the faithful kneel in adoration of the Lord who is about to be made present on the altar. If we can’t kneel, we are supposed to stand in adoration. Sitting would not be a correct posture unless standing would become burdensome. Then there is also the issue of the people behind the person who would have to stand, so such a person would probably have to stand near the back. Even though it is not a correct liturgical posture, some people will sit to blend in better with those who are kneeling so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. If we can kneel, we should kneel. If not, we should stand, without being overly conspicuous. If we cannot stand, we can sit. It is good that we are here. My goal is to present the profound meanings of our common posture thus encouraging the faithful into a deeper experience of encountering the Lord in these sacred mysteries.

After the priest consecrates the bread and wine and they become the Body and Blood or our Lord, by the power of God, he elevates them to show them to the people. The server rings the bells the remind us of the substantial presence of Almighty God. He is present in His substance: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Some of the faithful have gotten in the habit of striking the breast at this time. This is an acknowledgement of the fact that I am in the presence of God, and I am not worthy to be in His presence. As the Eucharistic Prayer continues, we hear language about offering Jesus, the Spotless Victim,  to the Father. The Second Vatican Council tells us there is more: that the faithful would also learn to offer themselves, and so day by day to be consummated, through Christ the Mediator, into unity with God and with each other, so that at last God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15;28). We could write a doctoral dissertation just unpacking the meaning of that sentence.

At the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest holds up the sacred elements, expressing glory to God. This in confirmed and concluded by the people’s acclamation: Amen. The Amen is usually sung, showing that it is an act of praising God, it is a sign of unity, and it shows that the people make it their own.

After the Amen, the people stand for the Communion Rite. This posture of standing is meaningful because we are about to encounter and greet someone very important, the most important person ever, Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Unpacking these mysteries today gives us the excellent opportunity to ask ourselves today: Is He King of my heart? How can I praise him and live my life this week to secure His throne right there in my heart where He belongs?

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