Recently we have been looking at the postures and gestures that we engage in during Mass. Each is intended to help us direct our minds and hearts more intently towards what we are celebrating.
Last week, we looked at some of the gestures and postures that are used during the first part of the Liturgy of the Word, primarily the scripture readings.
After the homily, we stand for the Profession of Faith and the Prayer of the Faithful. This is another time during the Mass where we stand as an assembly because we are actively engaged in the role of praying.
Given that we are often told to “stand up for what we believe in”, it seems to make sense that we stand when we profess our faith. Outside of the Church, standing is a posture used for important occasions related to our beliefs and values, such as the national anthem or a minute’s silence on Anzac Day. To sit for such things (unless we are unable to stand, of course) is considered inappropriate and disrespectful. Standing can be interpreted as a sign of commitment, resolve and pride – all feelings that should exist within us when we profess our faith through the creed.
The creed has within it another gesture to acknowledge an important element of our faith. Again, this is a gesture that has always been included in the missal, but has fallen into disuse. During the Profession of Faith, when we recall the incarnation and Jesus becoming man, we bow. Like other times when we bow, this is a sign of reverence, and is included in the rubrics of the missal for both the Niceno-Constantinopolitan and Apostle’s Creeds. Furthermore, when we celebrate this aspect of our faith at Christmas time, the missal asks us to genuflect instead; thus requiring of us an even more profound sign of reverence on such an important occasion.
Finally, much of what I’ve written in Liturgy Links this year has been related to the introduction of the new English translation of the Roman Missal, which has gradually taken place since January. This week, our parish finally received its copy of the new edition of the Missal, meaning we can now celebrate the Mass in its entirety according to the new translation. You will notice differences to the Collect (Opening Prayer), Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer After Communion from now on. Use of the new translation is mandatory in Australia from All Saints Day.