I was thinking about going to church this morning. Today is a day I have set aside to get prepared for the week, in true Sabbath style, and so I thought maybe I would find a Catholic church here in Sparks and go to Mass.
As it is, when I get up in the morning, I often find myself wallowing in the dream space, and so I try to take charge of my consciousness and get out of bed as soon as I realize that I am waking up. When I get out of bed, I drink a glass of water, and usually have to pee, since I try to drink a glass of water when I go to bed also.
Now, after this, I usually will check either the phone or the computer to see what time it is and start my virtual tether for the day. This, I think, is probably an unhealthy practice. It would be better to do yoga for 10 minutes, to get stretched out, and to breathe in and out while centering consciousness around the basics of human existence. Maybe that will be something I adopt, but I did not do that today.
Instead, I thought about going to church. I looked up the name of a nearby Catholic church here in Sparks, and looked over their website. There is a virtual tour option that displays the worship and gathering spaces, which I thought was nice. Then I found the “Preparation for Receiving Holy Communion at Mass.” Let us review.
1. Catholics must go to the sacrament of reconciliation prior to receiving Holy Communion if they are conscious of serious or mortal sin on their souls. Refer to The catechism of the Catholic church if you are not clear about mortal sin: see #1855 and following in the catechism.
I was not clear about mortal sin, and so I readily found the Catechism online. When I reviewed it, it reminded me that I did already know what mortal and grave sins where, I just hadn’t thought about it in a while. Aside from a bit over overindulgence in food and drink, my conscience is clear. I am not a thief, liar, or murderer.
2. Daily prayer and reading Scripture the week leading up to Sunday’s Mass can nurture your imagination for an eager anticipation of receiving our Lord. It is really indispensible [sic] for a fruitful reception of the Eucharist.
I know there are old ladies who go to church every day. I have also wondered why there is a horoscope in the paper everyday, but not a passage from scripture. It’s not anti-Catholicism, since Protestants use the same Bible; I imagine in the South they might print a passage daily. I appreciate that the congregation is encouraged to set aside some space in their regular perception of existence to consider their faith. I tend to do this more in a Buddhist way than a Catholic one, remembering the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Muslims are expected to constantly be aware of the existence of God; thus, prayer 5 times per day helps to remind them. In the Buddhist way, you cultivate a respect and awareness for the divine in meditation, and then try to carry that around with you. With practice, you aren’t thinking specifically about enlightenment, you are simply acting in a more enlightened way.
One of the things that is difficult for me to accept in Catholicism is the idea that only by accepting Christ into you from the outside can you be made whole, and you must do this with regularity to remain whole. In the Book of Thomas, Jesus said: “That which you have will save you if you bring it forth from yourselves.” Ah, then he continues: ” When you partake of the Holy Eucharist, have you received something from outside yourself? Not really. The Holy Eucharist is an invocation and remembrance of who and what you are in your inmost being and a drawing out of the Divine presence and power of the Holy One. It is a matter of education of the soul, a drawing out of what is already within you.” That’s the Jesus I like, but they cut that book out. Pity that the Dark Age manipulators decided to make everyone accept this literally. It works to suppress the imagination rather than encourage it. It actually diminishes holiness.
3. We are bound to fast for one hour prior to receiving the Eucharist. Only water and necessary medications are permitted during this hour. For example, if Mass is at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, one should cease eating and drinking anything but water at around 9:00 a.m., for communion time could fall around10:00 a.m.
This I also knew, having been well practiced in childhood. Also, I had not considered the fast as lasting an hour; I thought the idea was to not eat anything upon waking up on Sunday morning until after Mass. It seems funny to me that someone might sneak a snack leaving enough time to pass before the point in Mass where the Eucharist is offered.
4. In preparation for coming to Mass, we should dress neatly, preferably ”in our Sunday best,” for we are coming to the Banquet of the Lord! Care should be taken that we are modestly dressed. We should not come as if we are going to a beach or a barbeque.
5. Prudence dictates that we should plan ahead so that we arrive perhaps 10 minutes prior to Mass time, sufficiently so that we might not be rushed and have time to find a pew, make a profound genuflection or bow in recognition of Christ’s real presence in the tabernacle, and say a few prayers or preview the Sunday’s readings in the missalette while waiting for Mass to begin.
It’s sad that people would need to be reminded of this, but I guess somewhere is a church that people treat as a single’s hookup. Personally, I always thought it would be nice if everyone were required to be naked, in their “birthday suit.” What better homage to God? A bit distracting, unfortunately, for those who have trouble concentrating on anything anyway. And, sex apparently belongs to Satan, as if nudity and sexuality were one and the same. Well, men are visually stimulated, there’s no doubt. Modesty, then.
And, arrive on time! Ah, the necessities of theater, to get people in their seats before the show. Why no mention of leaving cell phones and personal computing devices at home or turned off in your pocket? Some day, I imagine there will be tablets to replace the missalettes and Bibles in the pew. I’d wager it has happened already somewhere.
6. Listen attentively to the readings once the liturgy of the
Word begins. Respond to greetings and participate in the
singing at Mass for full, active, conscious particpation [sic].
My father does not sing, but in church, he will at least try. I, too, never had difficulty being interested in church. Strike that, it’s not necessarily true. I did have episodes where I became sleepy or nauseous in church. There is very little variation after all.
7. At communion time, try to be recollected and eager in your
reception of the real presence of our Lord, body and blood,
soul and divinity. Be prepared to welcome Him into your heart. When in line to receive, when you are second, with only one person before you, make a profound bow, acknowledging His real presence. You have the option of either receiving the host in your outstretched hand or by your tongue. When the Eucharistic minister says “The Body of Christ,” you must respond, “Amen!” Similarly, going to the minister of the Precious Blood, you should respond to his/her greeting: ”The Blood of Christ,” with an “Amen~”
8. Catholics have the option of receiving communion under both
species: the Host and the Precious Blood or just one of the
species. If you elect to receive only the Body of Christ and
not the Precious Blood, you should make a profound bow while
passing by the minister of the cup. The entire Christ is
present under either of the species. Many Catholics make the
sign of the cross, having received. Take care to consume the
Host immediately, if you have received in your hand.
I like having this primer of what to say and do while accepting the Eucharist. Just having been Confirmed is not enough, and even years of repetition count for less than one might think when considering variation between churches and other factors. I also like the use of the word “species” to describe the Body and Blood of Christ. It made me think of Natasha Henstridge.
9. Returning to your pew, try to avoid any distractions and do
give our Lord a warm welcome. This is a very special time for
greeting Him and thanking Him for this most precious gift of
Himself. There is never a time when we who are attending Mass
are so united, true ”communion of souls” as one body in Christ.
I like that there is a reminder here that attending church is a way to become a connected, collective body. This is why I consider attending church, but I get hung up on some of the specific assertions of belief.
10. When Mass concludes, we have two options: remaining in your pew with a continuing visit with our Lord or leaving, following the priest and altar servers out to the gathering space and lingering, meeting and visiting with other members of Christ’s body, the Church. We should never ever dash out of the church and home without doing either of the above.
We seldom went directly home after church, even though we hadn’t eaten anything yet.
11. Spending time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during week days at our church is a great means of deepening your relationship with Jesus, ”spending quiet time with a friend.” This can promote your longing to receive Him in His real presence in the Eucharist all the more!
This is an understandable sentiment for a priest to invite everyone to his place, but there should also be an emphasis on being Christlike when you are not in church.
12. Catholics may receive the Eucharist twice in one day, providing that we have attended two full Masses.
13. Guidelines for receiving the Eucharist are given in the back of the cover of missalettes. We as Catholics should not receive
communion in protestant churches and they, not in our church as is more detailed in the Guidelines.
Ah, yes. Sad that we have our Christ and they have theirs. Doesn’t make sense, and makes me further want to reject the practice, even though there are many aspects I do like.
14. Catholics have a serious obligation to attend Mass on Sundays (or saturday eveinings [sic] after 4:00 p.m., and on Holy Days of obligation). See #2181 in The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
15. And, please, never, never come to church or Mass with chewing gum in your mouth. especially, for the sugars in the gum could be breaking your fast. Gum is very distructive [sic] to our floors and furnishings. Thank you!
It is a SERIOUS OBLIGATION for Catholics to attend church… and keep your stinking gum off God’s furniture. I couldn’t have summed it up better if I tried. I have now missed the 9:30 am Mass, but I have successfully filled my heart with the Holy Spirit, so there’s that.