By Padre Fernández
Imagine if the President of the United States invited a group of people for dinner in his home. They arrived late, were untidy, and chewing gum. Their children were shouting and no one corrected them. They sat however they wanted, were distracted, and when the food was served, they didn’t eat. What would you think? Probably not anything good. You would consider that they were uneducated, without any sense of common courtesy, or manners. No one would dare behave this way. And if someone invited you to an important party you would be prepared, learn the rules you must follow, and dress properly.
And what if the host was the greatest one of all, the absolute, the almighty God Himself? Should we not show great exhilaration and gratitude for the invitation and try to behave properly?
On Sundays we see, that as the hour of Mass approaches, which is the banquet offered to us by the Almighty God himself, who is infinite love, there are many empty pews. Mass begins and people rush in, talking amongst themselves. Some still have food, water, and even toys for their children. They greet friends, are distracted, and are not focused on what is happening…
There are youth who think they can take advantage of this time to text, talk on the phone or read other things while the Mass is being celebrated. And one has to ask, why did they even bother to attend?
During Mass, we celebrate the greatest and most awe-inspiring event in history: that God Himself, Creator of the Universe, the Almighty and Most High, would want to come and live with us, become bread so He can stay in us and change our lives, and save our humanity. This should excite us so much that we consider there is nothing greater in all life than to celebrate this great mystery and this wonderful grace of being invited to share with him.
What are the practices we should observe when attending Mass?
- Prepare before leaving your house. Reflect a bit about what it is we will be doing.
- Dress adequately. We should not dress as though we are going to the beach, or even as if we were going on a day trip. It is not necessary to dress in formal attire either, but in a dignified manner, clean, modest, and without provocative slits and scandalous necklines.
- Arrive on time. The opening rites are like the preliminary greetings at a party; it sets a good relationship with the host. The Liturgy of the Word reminds us who we are, what is our story. The Word is God’s word, the message he wants to give us.
- Pay attention to what is being said. That means remove everything that is a distraction. Just like we would never speak on the phone or send a text message when we are dining with a president or king, we must close our cell phones and remove from our sight anything that could be a distraction.
- Do not be eat or chew gum. We would not do this in front of a great king, right?
- Participate in the dialogue and in the actions being realized.
- We must not leave early. In an important party, you wait for all the festivities to end before leaving. It is not right to eat and leave without saying goodbye.
- We should follow with attention and devotion everything that being said and done; convinced that it is the most important thing in our lives.
Why is all this important? Well because it is truly the only thing that can change our lives. What we celebrate on Sunday is our salvation and it is also our mission. As we are leaving we are told to share the Gospel with others. That is, Monday, Tuesday, and for the rest of the week, we should bring, and be, Good News for others. We must take the bread of the Eucharist that we have become to everyone in our surroundings. We must live in a manner that demonstrates how great, worthy, and completely grateful we are, because God has invited us to share his table. Could there be anything greater?