The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
Usually the columns in Living Rite deal with topics about liturgy for the coming weekend. In this column, however, I invite you to look forward a week to Nov. 26, the feast of Christ the King. If Jesus is our king, then we, as his brothers and sisters, are heirs apparent to his kingdom. We are, as Scripture states, a royal people (1Pt 2-9). It would do us well to brush up on our royal protocol before that great feast.
I am particularly fascinated by the Queen of England and all the rules of protocol that surround her. People do not seem to mind; they even consider it their duty to accord her the honor due. The feast of Christ the King might be a good time to be conscious about the “protocol” that surrounds the rites of our liturgy.
What do you do when you come into church? It might be best to come with a pleasant attitude. Greet or smile kindly at others as you make your way into church. After all, they also belong to the same royal family.
Stop at the holy water or baptismal font. Consciously dip your hand into the water and thoughtfully sign yourself with the cross. It is our royal insignia. If the tabernacle is at the front of your church, genuflect if you are able; at the very least make a bow toward the Blessed Sacrament. If the Blessed Sacrament is in a chapel of repose, a bow to the altar is appropriate before taking your seat.
Pretend, for a moment, that you are in England waiting to see the queen in a parade. You are filled with excitement and anticipation. You are straining to see and cheering out. How enthusiastic is your attitude at Mass? Granted, cheering is not appropriate at Mass, but do you really try to stay focused on listening to the Scriptures, the homily and the prayers? How much enthusiasm do you bring to singing hymns and making the responses?
Do the official gestures ascribed to our king hold a place in your heart? Do you sign yourself with the triple cross before the Gospel? Do you make the slight bow during the creed? Do you receive the Eucharist with awe and attention? You may even notice that some people around you still make the gesture of a slight nod each time they hear the name of Jesus said at Mass.
Lastly, how will you dress on the feast of Christ the King?
We often hear: “Jesus does not care how I am dressed; he only cares that I am at Mass.” If men are required to wear ties to meet the queen or traditional Vatican dress codes indicate that a woman should be in a long-sleeved dress to meet the pope, perhaps then, at least on the feast of Christ the King, we could lay aside blue jeans and sweatshirts in favor of attire more fitting to meet a king.
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.