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.