"CALLS TO ACTION" AT LITURGY


People/Choir (as the celebrants enter the sanctuary at the Small Entrance): "Come, let us worship and bow down before Christ. Save us, O Son of God, risen from the dead (or Who are wondrous in Your saints), we sing to You, Alleluia."

This Entrance-Verse, sung as the celebrating clergy enter the sanctuary through its Holy Doors, calls us not only to ”worship” spiritually, but also to ”bow down” physically. We make the sign of the cross and then bow down, together, before Christ.

Let me not underestimate the importance of the concerted, synchronized physical actions, to which we are repeatedly called throughout liturgical celebrations (e.g., “Come, let us…bow down,” and “Stand aright!,” and “Let us all say with our whole soul…” and “Let us approach with the fear of God…” before Communion, and “Let us depart in peace!”), as a member of one praying Body that is the Church. The anthropological wisdom behind the physical discipline of the Liturgy, which includes fasting before it, is that our bodily actions inform and inspire our spiritual and mental faculties, which tend to operate in sync with the body. Just as when the body sins, the spirit and mind are also confused, so it is with dignified, virtuous bodily actions: they pull also the spirit and mind into line with the dignity and virtue of God’s will.

So the synchronized, physical actions of Liturgy help me join in also spiritually and mindfully into the focus of the Church’s prayer. At this point in the celebration, that focus is the Son of God, Christ. The physical motions are also simple ways to teach children to participate in the Liturgy, rather than occupy them with crayons or some other distraction. It is unfortunate that we have come to ignore some of the “calls to action” of our Liturgy, like the call to the Kiss of Peace, “Let us love one another…,” (because the people do not actually exchange the Kiss of Peace), and “Let us all say with our whole soul…” (because in most of our churches it is not “all” of us who respond “Lord, have mercy,” but only the choir). Be that as it may, let me take seriously and respond to those “calls to action” that we are still taught to act upon. “Come, let us worship and bow down before Christ,” together.

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