Called to listen and see

By | October 21, 2009

This Sunday’s Gospel caused me to think, “Where are our blind spots at liturgy? What are we not seeing because our attention is turned elsewhere?” 

We have been told that during the Liturgy of the Word, we should listen. But what should we see? The lector and presider, after their time of practice and reflection, proclaim the Word not only with their voices, but also with facial expressions and eye contact with the assembly. The missalette may be useful to some people, especially those who have hearing difficulties, but on the whole the Liturgy of the Word calls us to see and listen, rather than read along.

The second place we may have a blind spot is during the homily. At our parish we videotape the Sunday liturgy. When I am at the camera control screens, I see the assembly from the same vantage point as the presider. Imagine what he sees as he gives his homily. Some members are engaged in what he is saying, but others are merely staring off into space, catching a short snooze, reading the Sunday bulletin or text messaging; yes, text messaging. The homily calls us to see and listen.

The Eucharistic Prayer through the Communion Rite can be riddled with places that we need to cry out, “Lord, may I see.” It may seem that the only person doing anything of importance is the presider’ but he is acting on our behalf; should we not desire to see what is being done in our name? The Eucharistic Prayer is a communal prayer, not a private prayer between the presider and Jesus. Christ “becomes” in such a powerful manner, it seems natural to lower our eyes, but Christ invites us to look upon him in this great mystery.

What about the Communion Rite? Does the church call us to “see” the body of Christ receive the Body of Christ or should we be praying personal prayers or singing the Communion hymn. This is the part of the Mass that invites us to “do it all.” Say a personal prayer, but also join in the Communion hymn. As you move forth to Communion, rely on singing what you know of the hymn by memory, but also see your bothers and sisters receiving Eucharist.

During the Dismissal Rite, do you take time to really look and see those around you as you leave the church. There are days when we are content to pick up a bulletin, grab a cookie from the hospitality table and make it to our car without ever speaking to or acknowledging another person in the parish community, but Christ continually invites us to see the body of Christ, and greet them with a smile or spoken word.

When you attend Mass this weekend, pray the prayer of the blind man, “Master I want to see.” You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by the little treasures the liturgy holds.

 Zahorik is director of worship at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh. She has a master’s degree in liturgical studies.


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