It was said in last week’s list that this is a bit tongue-in-cheek. I don’t know if that’s worth repeating. What I do know is that there’s still a lot more you might be doing wrong at Mass. Without further ado, and with only the Ordinary Form of the Mass in mind (Fr. Z.), what you might be doing wrong at Mass:
1. Standing up to process to receive Communion when you won’t be able to leave your pew for another 2 minutes
I don’t get it. Why do you do this? This is when we kneel in reverence; the standing and walking is strictly out of necessity. The procession should be sober. It shouldn’t look like a rush to reserve your spot in line. Hey, if you’re excited to receive the Lord, great, but how about some order and patience in the ranks, huh? Additional time in prayer wouldn’t hurt either.
2. Sitting down just because the priest sat down after Communion
Maybe you should be sitting down when the priest sits, but his sitting is not the reason for your sitting. The priest can sit whenever he wants (almost), but we don’t take cues from him. Nobody should sit until the Host has been returned to the tabernacle. If the tabernacle is not in view, then everyone ought to be waiting until the ciborium has left the sanctuary.
3.Saying the words of consecration (“This is my body…”)
Who are you? Because if you’re not a priest concelebrating the Mass, zip it, friend! At best, this is inappropriate and mildly scandalous; at worst, it could constitute simulation of a sacrament — obviously a very grave offense. The ministerial priesthood is absolutely distinct from the baptismal priesthood, and the laity have no business trying to blur the lines.
4. Not bowing before receiving Communion
Oh, you genuflect before receiving? That’s cool (no matter who might tell you otherwise). But nodding your head or, worse, doing nothing as you approach the Great High Priest, King of Kings, and Savior of All Mankind is, quite frankly, pretty messed up. Really, we can do better than that. Bow from the waist, and do it like you mean it. That is Jesus, Second Person of the Trinity, Christ before your eyes, show some respect.
5. Reaching for the host or the chalice
Do you also sometimes talk about “taking Communion”? Yeah, no, not cool. Respect begins with the bow and continues with behavior that reflects your understanding that you are on the receiving end of this relationship. We take nothing from God, but we always receive from his benevolence. Believe me, if the priest had a third hand, he’d be using it to smack your grabby little paws away.
6. Receiving on the hand
I’m kidding! I’m kidding! No, the real offense would be to sneer at those who receive on the hand. The Church has told us that both are perfectly licit and dignified options. So, respect people regardless of how they receive; in that way you respect the Church.
7. Sneering at noisy children (or their parents)
My kids are noisy sometimes; it’s true. They’re all 4yo and under; I’d probably be concerned if they sat still and quiet for an hour. Given that kids are equal to adults, having every right (from baptism) to be present for the Mass, and given that folks who don’t have the responsibility of wrangling children during Mass and training them to be quiet are not so deserving of sympathy as the parents who do, might I suggest that you thank God for the little buggers and parents who actually care to train them in the faith.
8. Sitting all the way in back
Is there something I don’t know? Do I need an escape route planned? Please, move forward; join the community…unless, of course, you’re incredibly contagious. But why habitually sit 80 feet away from the nearest person? This is the Church, the One Body of Christ, let’s act like it.
9. Holding hands at the Our Father
First off, this looks like it was born out of necessity by people standing next to one another in the Orans position, right? The people at the end of the chain have their un-held hand raised, do they not? Expecting or obliging the whole community to join hands is unacceptable because it has not been approved, but even small groups doing it is problematic and dissonant. It also emphasizes a horizontal perspective at a moment when we ought to be focused on the vertical. And it distracts from the true act of union, the reception of Holy Communion.
10. Relying on everyone else to know when to sit or stand
How long have you been Catholic? Neophytes are given a pass, but we should all know the moves by now. An uber-brief primer: Stand to pray, because that’s the posture of prayer from Temple worship. Kneel before the Eucharistic prayers and while waiting to receive Communion.