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Mind Your Manners

Bishop Loverde’s column in this week’s Arlington Herald really struck a chord with me. The column’s title is Courtesy and Civility: A Path to Communion. From there Bishop Loverde muses on how all of our technological advances have taken the time for silence out of our lives. Cell phones, computers, and televisions that are supposed to keep us so connected, too often actually make us more disconnected. We ignore the person standing in front of us to respond to a ringing cell phone. We read on the internet about events in Africa yet ignore the events within our own family. Ponder these words from Bishop Loverde:

Lent can remind us to, “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). What a gift we have in Christ’s Eucharistic presence! We experience a profound and fruitful stillness at every celebration of the Mass. In our struggles with stillness, Our Lord comes to us. In a world which causes our lives to be fragmented, Christ is always the source of communion, orienting us in proper relation to each other and to God. With every reception of the Holy Communion, we reenter into the truth of who we are as a people—made to be in relation to one another and ultimately to God. But what guards this communion, this being from and for God and one another in the liturgy?

Manners inform and guide the way in which we encounter each other. Manners allow us to die to ourselves and place the needs of another before our own. There are certain manners we are taught from childhood at the family dinner table. Likewise, our encounter with Christ in the Eucharist requires “manners” which are a sign of the splendor and dignity of the great Sacrament we receive.

The General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM) presents us with certain “liturgical etiquette” proper to our reverence of the Blessed Sacrament. The Mass is to be celebrated according to certain norms. These norms allow our veneration for His True Presence to be rightly ordered—they place us within a structure where we are most free to offer authentic worship. In a way, the order of the Mass teaches “good manners,” enabling us to welcome and participate in the Paschal Mystery.

It is a blessing to have such a faithful bishop! However, reflecting on Bishop Loverde’s words also point to another topic. Notice he said, “There are certain manners we are taught from childhood at the family dinner table.” This assumes that the family dinner table is a common experience. Sadly, this seems to be less and less the case. I have much more to say on the topic of family meals so look for that in the next post. In the meantime, take a look at the website, Grace Before Meals for recipes and conversation about family meals.


frival said…
You are indeed blessed. It seems strikingly rare to find Bishops who not only believe in lex orandi lex credendi but are able to articulate the principle in such a fashion. And I'm all for anyone who calls for properly following the GIRM.
David Jackson said…
I'm still searching for a polite way to tell our choir's organ player to nix the liturgical Muzak, especially during communion. The mass really does fine on its own without a soundtrack.
Anonymous said…
Thank you Denise for your beautiful post. I recently lost my father to a massive heart attack and I'm floored by the good manners that certain people have, with respect to death and how to behave with the living. I'm certain that these are taught at home and as a mother to four young children, I'm humbled yet honored to pass on the faith (and manners) to my children.

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