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Reverence

I thought the topic of reverence was an important one for all of us Catholic women as daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins and friends to consider. We must realize the great mission we have based upon our feminine nature, to bring forth life including and most importantly spiritual life, that God calls us to exercise in His service. We desperately need to understand what reverence to the Lord is, and be a living example of it.


THE DIGNITY AND THE VOCATION OF WOMEN - a subject of constant human and Christian reflection - have gained exceptional prominence in recent years. This can be seen, for example, in the statements of the Church's Magisterium present in various documents of the Second Vatican Council, which declares in its Closing Message: "The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling".

"How much vice among the youth! What sloth in the old! No one takes due care of the education of his children. If we see a man truly devout in his old age, he is imitated by nobody. I see persons behave disrespectfully and without due attention in the church, and even when the priest is giving his blessing. Can any insolence be found equal to this? Amidst such scandals, what hopes can we entertain of the salvation of many? At a ball everyone dances in his rank, everything is regulated and done without confusion. And here in the company of angels, and singing the praises of God with the blessed spirits, you talk and laugh. Should we be surprised if thunder fell from heaven to punish such impiety?" (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

I think it is important that we as Catholic women especially remember the purpose of worship and how we should conduct ourselves in church, whether we are just visiting or attending Sunday mass or any other holy sacramental Eucharistic celebration, such as weddings, communions, confirmations or a service being held in memory of a deceased person. Our conduct reflects how devout we are in our love and respect for God and serves as an example to our immediate family, as well as our Catholic family at large. We are after all, One Body in Christ, and we do not stand alone.

Remember the maxim: "Silence is Golden in the House of the Lord". Note that this includes the time before and after Mass as well as all other times outside of Mass (most especially during Eucharistic Adoration and Confession). Often times we feel there is nothing wrong with carrying a conversation with the people around us before Mass has started. I suppose we think God is not present simply because the priest is out of sight. This is a huge error on our part.

Sadly, this is not a new topic. Saint John Chrysostom had something to say about it. He was born at Antioch, c. 347; and died at Commana in Pontus, 14 September, 407. This is what he had to say about the atmosphere we should encounter in church:

"Nothing so becomes a church as silence and good order. Noise belongs to theatres, and baths, and public processions, and market-places: but where doctrines, and such doctrines, are the subject of teaching, there should be stillness, and quiet and calm reflection, and a haven of much repose." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

Here are some tips when wondering what to do to “entertain” our children in church:

Do not provide distracting activities, toys, or food for children (or adults) in church. This is church, not the playground or McDonalds. If they are too young to pay attention, or sit quietly, other arrangements need to be made and most church’s these days have a room where the young ones are looked after while the parents attend mass.

Do not allow children to run around in church, climb on pews, crawl across the floor, make distracting noises, face backwards, or otherwise distract other parishioners. Remember that the church is the Lord's house, not a playground.

Do not talk or allow children to talk in church. Note that besides being disrespectful to God, talking in church is distracting to your neighbors.

Noisy or distracting children should be taken outside the church, taken to the crying room, or left with appropriate babysitters. This may sound insensitive, but please read {Matthew:19:13} “Then they brought to him little children, so that he would place his hands upon them and pray. But the disciples rebuked them.”

{19:14} “Yet truly, Jesus said to them: “Allow the little children to come to me, and do not choose to prohibit them. For the kingdom of heaven is among such as these.”

I do not think Jesus was relieving parents of their responsibility to raise their children to know and revere God. He was commanding that the children be allowed to come to him, not to stick their head in a coloring book, a video game, etc. If they are too young to understand, it is a disservice to the clergy, fellow parishioners, your children and yourself to allow them to misbehave, getting nothing out of the sacredness of the ceremony, the love of God and their purpose for being there, prohibiting the children as well as others from it as well. Jesus said, “Allow the little children to come to me, and do not choose to prohibit them.” Coloring, playing with toys and distractions are in my opinion, prohibiting (preventing, impeding) them from knowing Jesus or deciphering the difference between church and any other common play area.

Children can and will learn reverence for God by our example in church and in our homes. It is best to start the practice by praying with your children at home, exposing them to sacred objects, statues, rosary beads, reading bible stories together. Setting aside a portion of time, perhaps before bed, to teach and pass on the Catholic faith. Visiting church with our children when there is not a mass going on is also a good time to introduce them personally to the sacredness of God. In this way, they will have the opportunity to ask questions and to learn first hand from their parents Who God is, and why we go to church. God can and will call anyone of us home at any time, but we cannot claim that same authority so it is best to teach our children while they are young the importance of trusting, loving and revering God as the Creator of all of us who alone knows what is best for us and loves us with a perfect love. Another helpful resource is: http://saintjohnchurchmiddletown.com/TeachingChildrenToPray.aspx

To keep church a sanctuary of reverence to Almighty God as it should be here are Some Church Don’ts we all need to follow:

Do not clap in church for any reason. Interestingly enough, this idea came from the person who is now our Pope! This includes good singing and good homilies; “Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment." (Cardinal Rat zinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI) And furthermore, Pope St. Pius X remarked; "It is not fitting that the servant should be applauded in His Master's house." (Pope St. Pius X)

Do not laugh in church. Do not eat or drink in church. Do not chew gum in church. Just as you would not arrive late for an important interview or leave before it is over, your behavior should be the same and even more so when sharing the most important time of the week communing with Our Almighty Father during the mass.

Also, we must be on guard against the common error today that considers Mass not as a Sacrifice, but as a socializing occasion or a stage show. We must keep in mind that we gather as a community not to socialize with each other or to be entertained, but to propitiate God, whom we have offended, and worship Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Communion with our neighbor is always secondary to communion with God. The proper time to socialize with our neighbor and to enjoy entertainment is outside of Mass. When we are in church, we are in the Lord's house ["a house of prayer" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 21:13)]. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - the true re-presentation of Calvary - is a solemn, holy occasion and it is a prefigurement of heavenly worship of God. If you read in Revelation how those in heaven worship God, you will see that they are not directing their attention towards each other, engaging in private conversation, adopting irreverent postures, enjoying 'modern music', seeking entertainment, etc... Rather, they seem to follow admonitions such as...

"Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For this is our God, whose people we are, and God’s well-tended flock." (Ps. 95:6-7) Some information supplied here was borrowed from: http://www.mycatholicsource.com

"In order for hope to abound, Catholics must find Holy Mass celebrated with all the reverential vigor of a grand battle (for it is the grandest battle, between Our Lord and Satan), with the majestic solemnity of something come down to us from Heaven, and with the transporting beauty befitting the perfect glory of Christ's sacred humanity nailed to the Cross." (Perricone)


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