Hope you are all doing well.
The confirmation mass past week was good and it was a memorable event for the candidates in their life. That was a great time to witness sixty candidates being confirmed, nineteen of them which were from our parishes. The Bishop offered the necessary advice for the candidates who I believe will take that to their hearts and better their spiritual life.
Before the confirmation I had been to the rehearsal. The rehearsal went very well. During the rehearsal the CRE of Rozellville was giving instructions to the candidate as to how to dress themselves. They were told what to wear and what not to wear. No jeans, tank tops, golf shirts, or shirts with any wording, no tennis shoes or sandals for boys and no jeans, low cut tops, spaghetti string tops, or shirts with any wording, no tennis shoes, flip-flops, or sandals for girls. And also, they were told to have no cellphones, they should not chew gum and similar things like these. I was there when these things were told to the candidates.
I was thinking to myself, ‘Okay. Why are all these things told now for a bishop’s mass? Is this in respect to the Bishop or it is in reverence to the church and the inhabitant of the church which is the Lord Jesus? If it was only for the Bishop, how much more reverence we should show the Lord when we give such a respect to the Bishop who is His called and anointed one? If it is for the church and Jesus, why don’t we show the reverence to Him every day or every weekend or whenever we come for the Mass or any other activity in the Church? If we do not do this, do we not make ourselves hypocrites?’ This was the thought going on in my mind.
I happened to see a posting in the Facebook which was in the form of an announcement to the congregation of a church. It went like this: Plans for parish swimming pool scrapped. After much study, our finance committee has determined it would not be feasible to construct an indoor swimming pool in our church. As a result, we can now announce with certainty that those who have been arriving for Mass as if dressed for the pool need not do so…….’. You may look up here if you want to. There were various comments both positive and negative. (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?bid=443226532517086&set=a.15314280485 8795&type=3) I am not sure whether this was done in any church for true. But the point is clear. The point is that the church and the Lord Jesus in the church should be given proper reverence and the same respect is due to the people of God who come to church with at least a little faith in what they are wanting to do in the church, that is to pray.
We need to keep in mind that we don’t come to church for relaxation by chewing gum, talking with people, meddling with the phone, and doing many other things like this. We have plenty of time to do all these outside the church. Of course, it is a socializing, but in the presence of the Lord. In other words, it is a communion with and in the Lord, which is the Eucharist. The center of the place and the event is the Lord, not the cellphone, not the gum, not the dress like we wear for other places like games or sports. There had been a time when women and men came to church classically dressed in respect and reverence to the place they were going to and the event they were going to participate. But in course of time we were allured by the material beauty and attraction and our behavior in the church also changed a lot to the extent that a pastor should make such an announcement as mentioned above. Is this not something unbecoming of us?
It is true that God loves us as we are, He doesn’t mind what we wear and do, He still loves us. These arguments are right, but that is His generosity and His magnanimity. Are we not obliged to reciprocate that love and magnanimity? Sure, we should. That is basically being human. We have been taking Him for granted which on our part is injustice to Him and His love. Even among human beings, we are ready to pay back to anybody who is good to us. But why is that not possible with God? Is it because He won’t come in person and ask about it? No. We are given the reasoning power to think about this and act accordingly. After all these words this is the single point I would like to make: Give reverence to the church and Jesus in the church by means of your attire, behavior like not chewing gum, not having cellphones, bowing or genuflecting when you enter the church, not indulging in louder conversations inside the church (tolerable in the gathering area) receiving Holy Communion with due reverence and disposition (I have seen people saying ‘Hi’ to people while they are in the line for communion).
God bless. Yours sincerely, Fr. A. Antony.