Today is the first day of the Church calendar, so, Happy New Year! Let’s make some resolutions.
- Set aside five minutes each day for silence. We live in a distracted culture, and the noise drowns out God’s attempts to get through to us. Make some room each day for God. (Try to find a way to make it the same time each day – people have discovered that helps.)
- Read the Sunday Scriptures before coming to Sunday Mass. What we hear at Mass shouldn’t be like a news report, things we haven’t heard before. The Scriptures should be like family traditions, beloved memories that we’re reminded of when we hear them at You can find the Bible citations in the Bulletin each week. If you want a commentary, there are good ones on the web (make sure they’re Catholic, though – there’s lots of weird stuff on the web).
- Come to Mass five minutes early to observe the silence. We need to “shift gears” in order to pray the Mass well. Sitting in silence with other disciples has a power of its own; but we need to be with one another in silence to experience God’s power that way.
- At Mass, sing! There’s a reason we sing at Mass – it changes us and those around us. Even if you haven’t got a voice fit for solo performance, singing matters. We open ourselves to God’s grace when we sing.
- Follow the church-approved rubrics for receiving the Holy Communion, rather than personal and idiosyncratic piety. Yes to: a bow before the Eucharistic Bread and Cup; “Amen” as a response; leave directly to return to your pew after receiving. No to: genuflection before (it’s a trip-hazard for the person behind you); sign of the cross before or after receiving (you risk hitting the minister’s hand with the Blessed Sacrament in it); bow to the altar before or after (it gets in the way of the procession); conversation with the minister other than “Body/Blood of Christ” “Amen” (I’ll spare you the stories).
- Pick up after yourself in church. If you leave a Bulletin in the pew, or a tissue, someone’s got to pick it up. Put missalettes and hymnals back into the rack (or, if there’s no rack in front of you, at the end of the pew).
- Treat other people – at church and everywhere else – as the embodiments of the Image of God they are. Manners and courtesy matter – to society and to our souls. Just because we live in a coarse society we don’t have to let it infect us.
The church is a training-ground for holiness, and a spiritual hospital for our weakness. Christ, the teacher and physician, can show us the way to health. But He can’t put good habits into practice for us. That’s up to us. Why not begin some new habits for the new year? Until next week, peace!