Thursday, March 18, 2010

Body Language

Here's a liturgy tidbit that I never knew until I was actually in a class learning how to preside:

Think of the presider standing up there, saying any of the prayers to God the Father -- say, the eucharistic prayer. During that prayer, what are the position of his arms? They're uplifted and extended out to the side, right? (At least, most presiders are. Some guys instead put their hands up in front of their chest. I must admit, to me it always looks like they're being held up.) It sort of fits -- you're talking to the Big G, you want that broad, expansive, humbly petitioning sort of gesture.

And that's how it is most of the liturgy. HOWEVER -- at the beginning of the sign of peace, for only the second time in the liturgy, instead of addressing the Big G, the presider speaks to Jesus. Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles... And since the "target audience" here has changed, the presider's gesture changes, too. Instead of that big, formal, upward gesture, the presider extends his arms directly in front of him. It's the gesture of openness and welcome we would make to one another before greeting, embracing (or accepting a casserole). Which fits, because Jesus always comes with a good hot dish.
Save room for seconds! It's divine!

No, it fits because although he's the Son of God, and we come to him in prayer, still, we address Jesus as our brother.

It's a very small detail. But to me it's always amazing to discover how different elements of every moment of the Mass are right there telling the story.

Pop Quiz: I said the sign of peace is the second time the presider addresses Jesus directly. There are three such moments in the liturgy. What are the other two?


Anonymous said...

Testing whether you can leave comments.

Anonymous said...

Interesting question.

Offhand, I can think of four others, depending on the setting of the Mass.

The penetential rite: Christe Elison/Christ, Have Mercy.
The gloria: Lord, Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, etc....
The memorial acclamation: e.g., We proclaim your holy death, O Lord... etc. I can only think of one setting where it is third person, not directly addressed to Jesus.
Agnus Dei: (b/c no matter what words or setting you use, you're saying Lamb of God, who is Jesus.

Guess the good sisters had some effect in drilling us on the Mass.

Interesting food for thought. And now I'll have a Kyrie earworm for the rest of the day.

Michelle said...

Penitential rite and the communion rite (Lord, I am not worthy to receive you...)

Purification of the vessels (Lord, may I receive these gifts in purity of heart...)if done by the presider during Mass.

Michael said...

It is really interesting how little theological niceties like that work their way into the Mass. :)