See below for notes on explanation of gestures given after homily.
Gestures at Mass
Catholicism is an “incarnational” religion. The Son of God became incarnate in human flesh and took on our human nature. Thus, we employ our human flesh, our bodies, in the worship of God.
We engage everything – mind, heart, soul and body – in the actions of divine worship.
Therefore, the gestures that are part of the celebration of Mass are meaningful, both as outward signs of our interior love for God and desire for union with Him, and also as a witness to those around us of our confident faith and love.
You likely notice that I as the priest pay particular attention to my movements and gestures on the Altar. You should as well because this prayer of the Mass is yours, too.
We need not be afraid – indeed we are confident – to express our faith in God and in the Church in a bodily, outward manner, by singing and by performing the gestures of the Mass, together with all our brothers and sisters who join us in our common Catholic heritage.
As we actively pray and participate in Mass in common, our minds and bodies are joined in a single act of worship.
From time to time, we need to be reminded of what we are to be doing in the Mass, specifically regarding the liturgical gestures. In addition to standing and sitting, there are other bodily gestures that we should take note of.
1. Upon entering the church, we take Holy Water from the font and make the Sign of the Cross, as a reminder of our original entrance into the Church through the waters of Baptism.
2. If we pass by the Tabernacle, we genuflect, touching the right knee to the ground as a sign of unique reverence to the living and abiding presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
3. Again, we make the Sign of the Cross at the beginning of Mass, for we begin and end our prayer in honor of Christ's Cross and the Trinity. We do this again at the final blessing to close our prayer in the name of the Trinity and in honor of the Cross as well.
4. At the Rite of Penance, if the Confiteor is prayed, we strike our breast as a sign of humility and sorrow for our sins. This is one which is sadly neglected today. Let us remember to do this together as we express our sorrow for our sins and ask forgiveness.
5. During the Creed, we bow during the words “…and He became flesh and was born of the Virgin Mary….” These are the most significant words in the Creed, for they speak of the Incarnation, the moment when Jesus became flesh, the moment which made His whole life and Paschal Mystery possible.
6. We kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer. Kneeling is the supreme act of adoration – lowering ourselves to the ground in the presence of the divine.
7. At Communion, before or during the priest/EMHC saying “The Body of Christ” we bow our heads and then say “Amen.” This sign of reverence is our acknowledgement of the presence of Christ whom we are just about to receive into our bodies and souls.
Three are of particular importance: Confiteor, Creed, Communion. Invite you all to observe me, and to join me in employing our bodies in divine worship.