Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Obligatory Spiritual Positions in Most Churches


Obligatory Spiritual Positions at Holy Mass:

Different positions / postures /gestures/ are introduced in the Holy Mass to enable the participant to perform well with utmost devotion during the Holy Worship and to control his thoughts and attention from wandering.

The three main obligatory Positions a Faithful is encouraged to follow during a Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Jacobite, Kananaya, Marthoma, CSI & CNI Mass are (1) Standing (2) Sitting and (3) Kneeling.

Though they are obligatory to be observed along with the community, how ever the sick, the aged and the handicapped are exempted from it.

1. Standing: A devotee observes this position to show his/her ‘Reverence and Respect’. When the Priest arrives for the Holy Mass to the Alter, (or when the bell rings / when the entrance hymn is sung) all faithful stand. When the Holy Gospel is shared, the faithful observe the standing posture. After the offering is made the participants stand, when the celebrant says “pray brethren that our sacrifice may …” All faithful stand and utter the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ in standing position with faith and trust in the Father. While receiving the Holy Communion also in most Churches, the participants stand in a row piously.

2. Sitting: Sitting position is included in the Eucharistic Service not to relax or take some rest, but to listen keenly to the Words of God (the first & second and readings from the psalms) and to meditate on them. Also when the Priest or some one authorized by him explains & interprets the Word of God in the Light of the Most Holy Spirit by Devotional Sermons. The faithful can also sit and chat/talk in silence with the Lord who has come in him after receiving the Holy Communion. It should be remembered that, while sitting in a Church especially during Holy Mass, the physical position should be maintained in a respectable manner. Keeping one leg upon another and/or leaning back too much comfortably on the backrest of the seat (as one sits in his own home or private places) are considered as disrespect to the Master.

3. Kneeling: Kneeling with both legs, right leg and left leg has significance in most Christian Religious Practices. Kneeling is a posture, which is expressed to show penance, sacrifice, surrendering, commitment and utmost reverence.

Kneeling with Both Legs: During the Holy Mass, when the priest prays to the Father in Heaven to send HIS Holy Spirit to sanctify the offerings (hosts made of wheat and wine) and make them the ‘Body and Blood of Christ’, it is truly believed that Divine intervention takes place there and the hosts and wine transform into the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. During that service, all congregation pray in full faith with both legs knelt, as the Most Holy Spirit of the Lord arrives amidst them.

When ever, the Eucharistic body of Christ venerated in the tabernacle is taken out in procession, or it passes near us, we need to kneel on both legs and show our respect. Also when ever the Eucharistic body of the Lord is venerated on the Alter for Adoration (Holy hour) the congregation kneels in full humility, honor and respect, acknowledging the presence of the Heavenly spirits and Saints - including the Blessed Virgin Mother - adoring the Most High Lord, JESUS Christ along with us.

Kneeling with right leg: When ever we enter a Church or Chapel where the Lord is Present in the form of ‘Eucharist’, we must kneel on the right leg and bend towards the ‘Tabernacle’ saying in mind “My Lord, My God.” When ever we pass from one side to the other side in a Church too, it is customary to kneel on the right leg and show due reverence to the Holy Eucharist in the tabernacle. During Adoration of the Holy Eucharist or the celebration of the Holy mass that kneeling and respect is done facing the Alter on which the Lord is enthroned.

Note: In all the above areas, instead of kneeling on the right leg, it is always better to kneel on both legs if and when ever possible. If one is unable to kneel on his knees because of health reasons, he must bow down his body and or head.

Kneeling on left leg: When meeting our Bishop or a Spiritual head above his rank like Arch-Bishop or Cardinal, in whose religious territory we belong, there was a custom to kneel on our left leg and kiss the ring on his finger which is a symbol of his Spiritual authority. Now-a-days, mostly it is performed by bowing forward.

Bowing of the Body:

Bowing too, is an easy and fast gesture of showing reverence. It is highly appreciable and spiritually essential to bow one’s head at certain Spiritual practices.

Whenever the Holy Name of our Lord ‘JESUS’ is uttered or heard, please make it a habit to bow your head in reverence, because It is the ONLY Name given under the sun, for the redemption of the entire humanity. HIS Name is the name above all … all names. HIS name is very Holy and so powerful that IT can perform any wonders and miracles. IT can heal any sickness, even dreaded diseases and plagues and can even raise the dead…! We must be aware that numerous Angels and Saints find inexplicable pleasure in adoring the Lord and Worshiping HIS Most Holy Name unceasingly.

Just chanting of the most Holy Name of JESUS itself terrifies and flees the satan.
Please remember to prefix any of the titles such as Lord / God / Master / Savior / Redeemer / Messiah / before using the name of Jesus Christ and feel proud to be permitted to use HIS Divine Name.

When ever a devotee passes by a Church by walk or by some vehicle, where the Holy Eucharist is venerated, or sees a crucifix above a Church or Chapel, it is good to bow the head and say in mind “my Lord; my God” which will protect us from any dangers of the soul and body.

Other Spiritual Gestures:

Hand movements: Hand movements too are important during devotional worship. Hands in different positions are held during various spiritual practices. Here are the common hand movements which can be applied in a Church {for own welfare and other’s sake}.

Joined Hands are used to pray earnestly in many countries. People in most Asian countries like India, and Africa join their hands to show their respect to higher officials, superiors or land lords to show their respect and get pleased and favors granted. Joined hands also create sympathetic feeling to the pleading ones. So when ever we pray for the forgiveness of our sins and for various other favors of the LORD, Praying tenderly with hands joined together, is very appropriate and effective and it shows and motivates the co-worshiper who may not be attentive in the Spiritual service.

Open Hands Spread forward /and turned upward (not fully stretched) are used now-a-days when the Lord's Prayer is recited piously. Also in personal and Charismatic Prayers, on can use open / stretched / raised hands according to the situation.

May the Merciful Lord acknowledge your Devotion and Bless You, Your Children and all Your Dear and Near ones abundantly and shower HIS unlimited Blessings upon you ... Amen.

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