I left my Dr. Laura hat out by the curb, in the hope that someone will run over it when they try to park. But we have some other questions from a reader:
1. Why does the priest bow to the altar on his way to the ambo? I can understand bowing to Jesus present in the tabernacle behind the altar, but he is definitely bowing to the altar (with his back to Jesus in fact)and not the tabernacle. Why?
2. Why do we bow our heads as we say "and became man" during the creed? While I am honored that Jesus chose to humble himself and become a man for me, I am even more awed at some of the other things He did that are mentioned in the creed, like "was crucified, died and was buried." or "rose from the dead." Why an act of reverence for "just" becoming a man?
3. When we say "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" during the Hosanna, who are we talking about? The whole prayer seems to be referring to God without specifying Father, Son or Spirit so I was wondering if this line speaks about someone other than God, or if the prayer is made to God the Father and this line is referring to His son.
Thanks for any insight you will offer.
I can handle these! Whew!
Question 1: To non-Catholics, every aspect of the Mass must look like some elaborate square dance. Bow to your corners! At least I can explain about the ambo. Much easier than explaining what an '"Allemande" is. Try explaining that move! I know it may involve going left the old left hand.
So the ambo is basically the pulpit. I thought everyone stopped calling it an ambo and started calling it a pulpit. Although they are a bit different. An ambo is a raised platform. It used to be a sort of movable lectern and then it became a piece of church furniture. A very elaborate piece. Ah, the good old days of elaborate church furniture! When did the whole church go Danish modern? The new statues make me feel like I'm on Easter Island.
But I digress. The bowing toward the ambo is not prescribed in liturgical books, but probably arose from a sense of reverence and respect for the Word of God which is about to be read from the ambo.
If the priest is bowing toward the altar, then the Book of Gospels is there and he's bowing toward that. Then he'll alamande left with the old left hand over to the ambo.
No, he won't. That's just what the non-Catholics think he's doing.
Question 2. I think you could have figured this one out. How does Jesus die for our sins or rise from the dead, so you can be amazed at that, if He first doesn't first do the stunningly humble move of being born a man? It calls for a profound pause.
Think about it. God. Omnipotent, eternal, "I Am." Rolling around heaven all day even before there was an earth. No body to get tired. No feet to hurt. After an eternity, literally, God makes us to join Him. In the great scheme of things we've only been here a very short time and we've can barely get anything right. We'd tie our own shoe laces together and start walking and break out our front teeth, left to our own devices. You, as God...you don't really even have to pay attention if you'd rather not. Luckily, you're paying close attention. Imagine what it would be like to have to deal with being born and having a body. Was Jesus lactose intolerant? Did He suffer during allergy season? Probably not. But you get my drift. I'm sure His feet hurt, at the very least, from all that walking.
Or just try to imagine something very big becoming very small. A dinosaur standing in front of you suddenly becomes a golden retriever. You've got to be impressed with that!
"..and became Man." The collective gasp after hearing those words should suck all the air right out of the room. A bow of the head is the least we can expect.
But feel free to bow your head at every turn during the creed. Why not? Good for you and your sense of awe. I won't try to stop you. Good for you feeling all that reverence! the extra head bowing will cause the visiting non-Catholics to be further confused, wondering if we've switched from a square dance to the hokey pokey. But their opinions have never concerned us one way or the other, really.
Question 3: We're quoting the Gospel of Matthew here, when Jesus rode in on Palm Sunday. "He who comes in the name of the Lord" is Jesus. That's what they said when He rode in and we're quoting them. It's not an accurate description of Jesus, exactly. But if we said, "Blessed is the Lord!" we wouldn't be quoting them anymore. We don't go around saying 'Hosanna!" as a rule either...that should have been a tip off for you that maybe it was 'from' something.
Although, I'd be willing to work a Hosanna or two into my everyday vernacular to have those great old statues back. I know they're around somewhere in some body's church basement.