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.
A few years ago now, a new edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal was introduced. When it was implemented, it required us to make two changes to our practice as a liturgical assembly during the Mass. One of these involved our posture after the priest has prepared the gifts of bread and wine.
After the priest prepares the gifts, he invites the assembly to pray. Although it seems to be a routine action, this invitation is not without its significance. The priest invites us to pray. Our affirmative response makes clear our wish that the priest continue to lead us through the Eucharistic Prayer and the rest of the Mass.
Nowadays, we are required to stand immediately after the priest says “Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.” For many people, it seemed to be far more practical to do as we did previously, and stand after we responded to the priest’s invitation.
To stand immediately after the invitation, and then respond, makes our posture more consistent with other times of the Mass. Standing is generally the posture the Church adopts when it prays. While we also kneel at times, the Church does not pray sitting down – at least not during its liturgical celebrations. We stand because we accept the invitation to prayer and now pray together once again as the body of Christ; this time in certain hope that Christ that is present within each of us will make himself present to us once more through the bread and wine that become his body and blood.
2 thoughts on “16/10/11 – “The people rise and reply””
We in England have always stood before replying, although in practical terms this usually means standing up while the priest is saying ‘Pray, brothers and sisters,’ or (for the more nimble) after he holds up his hands and before he starts to speak.
Interesting to know. Until the latest General Instruction was implemented here in Australia in 2008, we always stood after responding. Now the idea is that we stand and then respond, but it tends (as you suggest) to turn into standing while the priest is inviting us to pray.
Of course, if incense is used at Mass and the people are incensed after the gifts and priest, then it’s not an issue at all, because they’re already standing.