Sunday, February 8, 2015

Why Can't Catholics Just Sit Down During Mass?

     How many of you Catholics have been asked this question?

      Why do Catholics sit down, stand up AND kneel?  I have been asked this a few times in my youth and some in adulthood.  Unable to recall what my answers have been, I have not thought about this much.  Always being a member of the Catholic faith, I did not care. We have always practiced Mass this way and as a child I thought this was how  everyone participated in church.  Until I was twelve years of age, when I attended a different denomination with a friends family, I was like, "Hey, they get to sit the entire time?"

     Still unable to remember anything specific about why our faith practices this way, I did not think about this again until my third year of recovery after my collision.  At the point where I could begin participating at a slow rate, I was between the stages of "not quite, but almost".  I could not kneel and could not stand but for a few minutes at a time.  Then the congregation would sit and repeat.  Sometime during Mass I asked, "Who... in this world made the rule that Catholics cannot just sit through Mass and listen?  Was it God or some human being that decided on their own and none of us challenged that decision?"  That Sunday morning was quite annoying to myself and I thought it simply silly.  

     Hanging my head, I, of course, knew I was more irritated that I could not perform these actions to what I thought should be in my
capability than at the rules themselves.  There must be significance to all of this otherwise we would not do it.  Giving the thought some quality time, I feel as if I could make a good assumption.  Still I did not research on the reasoning behind this.  I now gauge my recovery progress on how well I can perform them each week.  Participating through the entire Mass is attainable now, I just fidget with how comfortable it is.  Instead of having to genuflect before entering the pew, I am able to kneel and make the sign of the cross.  Almost, I cannot quite get that knee all the way to the ground for fear of making a scene upon returning to full height, but I have that sign of the cross down pat.

     Over the past few months, I have piqued my own interest enough to really research this and discover for my own curiosity, why.  It is my faith and something I practice each week, so it is really a simple fact that I should know and be able to pass on to others as they question me, especially my children.

     Standing and kneeling have significance during our presentation of faith.  If we did not sit, these two actions would not have the significance that it does, so sitting is a kind of "base worship."  

     Standing is required when the priest proceeds to the alter.  The Gospel book and cross are also brought to the front of the church.  This shows the amount of respect we have for those three things as well as when the Gospel is read.  The Gospel is the words and actions of Jesus Christ.  All important things I would say.

     Kneeling is the ultimate gesture of showing our humility as humans.  We are not on the same level as God, we are his servants to help spread his kindness.  This also shows our obedience and commitment to Him and his visions for us here on earth.  

     Now ultimately all of this is up to the parishioner.  Each one of us has the right to sit the entire Mass.  Those with injuries, disabilities or old age are not required either.  I suppose at some juncture if a healthy individual attended Mass on a regular basis, but did not participate in standing or kneeling, curiosity as to "why" would get the better of us.  As far as I know, God just wants our attention any way He can get it and He does not care if you are lying on the ground looking at the sky or kneeling in church.

     Catholics are still extremely traditional.  A few things have been challenged and updated,but for the most part the faith still remains as it did when in its original venture.  This does not bother me so much.  I am somewhat of a feminist and do have disagreements about some parishes not allowing female servants near the alter, forms of birth control and female priests.  I alone will not change any of that.  Continuing to believe in Gods vision for us and myself, grasping the meaning of His words and genuinely doing my part is what I am more concerned about.  

     I will say that He is the only One I would ever kneel before, which show how much respect and belief I have in Him.