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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Ruled by Rules

So happy you feel better, Sister! Now for my question: Why is it that people genuflect after the priest, and not with the priest, at the stations of the cross? We genuflect together during the Angelus. We make the sign of the cross together all through the mass. I can't think of a single gesture (words, yes, but gestures, no) that we do separately. (Please, dear readers, do not volunteer that we gesture back and forth when the priest extends his arms and says, "The Lord be with you" and then people in the pew gesture back at him. We are not supposed to do that. Check your GIRM!) Anyway, the words, "We ADORE you, O Christ" are the words to which we should be genuflecting, correct? They are the words of adoration. Why would you genuflect while saying, "because by your cross..." ?? Hopefully, we can do a better job of it next year.

You are correct! We are supposed to genuflect on the words "We Adore you, O Christ".

Perhaps the people you were doing the Stations with didn't really know the customs and didn't really know when to genuflect and were just trying to follow along.

That is, after all, one of the main comments from people who aren't Catholic, or are newly Catholic.  They just can't get over all the up and down and down and up, sitting, standing, kneeling, standing again, kneeling again and so on.  Better just to follow along.

Here's another rule for the Stations of the Cross: you are supposed to be meditating on the Passion of Christ.  You don't have to meditate even on each individual station at all.  You can.  It's up to you.  You can just meditate on the whole event in general.

There are fourteen stations, each, as Mel Gibson so graphically showed us, with plenty of horror and pain to mull over, not to mention that Jesus is doing all of this for us, for me individually.  That is a lot to take in.

We're not meditating on when we're supposed to genuflect, is my point, or if everyone but me is doing it wrong.  Ironically, you're complaining that people get with the program, while you're not with the program.

That's like being at your daughter's wedding and stewing the whole time about the hemline of her wedding dress being uneven.  It's like taking that Carnival Cruise you've been saving for for years and spending the whole time clocking who was late for dinner.  It's like receiving the Stigmata and obsessing over whether to wear cloth gloves or leather.

There are only four rules to the Stations:

1. They must be properly erected.

2. There fourteen stations.

3. You have to walk from Station to Station.

4.  You meditate on the Passion.

It is customary to genuflect on the word "Adore", as you said.  But it's just a hemline.


Anonymous said...

Dear Sister - I posted that question, and am thrilled that you took the time to answer it. And you are correct, there are more important things to concentrate on: meditating on the Passion. Point well taken, and thank you for setting me straight.
I do think it is important that we try to do the little things, too. Not to the extreme that we miss the point, I agree with you there, but we can still glorify God by doing little things with great love. I try - and I fail... more times than Jesus fell beneath the weight of His cross! I used to teach my religion students that we should always try to make the Sign of the Cross well. It's a little thing we can all do for Jesus. We may not get the chance to do die a martyr's death or make a big difference the world like Mother Teresa, so let's at least do the little things well. With the way things are going for Catholics in the free world these days, though, I am not so sure.

mph said...

Hi Sister,
When the priest says "we ask you to receive us and be pleased with the sacrifice we offer you with humble and contrite hearts", I assume the sacrifice he's talking about is Jesus' sacrifice for us, so I don't understand how we're offering it, or why we're asking God to be pleased with it, which we already know He is.

Hamilton, OH said...

I just found your blog. Oh my, it's enjoyable--educational, funny! and the pictures are perfect. I've bookmarked your site and I'm so glad you're blogging.

Anonymous said...

Dear mph
That is said right after the offertory is taken up so the sacrifice is the one you've made.

Lebeau2501 said...

OH! The gesturing back to the priest has always been something that I thought was wrong. I don't do it and I feel like others around me are wondering "What's with this guy?".

Another something that feels really protestant-y is the holding hands during the Our Father. Are we supposed to hold hands, and then raise them even higher during "for the Kingdom the Power and the Glory are yours, now and foerever"?

Anonymous said...

No. I usually fold my hands together, and my neighbor is usually okay with that. No one (in recent memory) has reached down and grabbed my hand, rolled their eyes, or anything of that nature. The one time I made an exception to this might give you pause. I had flown home to visit my father, recently widowed, and was attending mass at his parish. My parish follows the GIRM to the letter. My father's parish is what I would call the polar opposite. Just about anything goes. I don't care for it, but I was not about to make my grieving father feel uncomfortable in his own parish, so I held my tongue (for once!) When it came time for the Lord's Prayer, I was going to fold my hands as usual, but something (and I believe it was my guardian angel) inspired me to look at the gentleman on my right. He had been right there since the beginning of the mass, but I had not really "seen" him, as I was focused on my own praying of the mass. But I looked, and then I saw that he was reaching out to hold my hand... not with his hand, but with the HOOK attached where his HAND should have been!! I responded to his outreached arm by grasping his (artificial) wrist, and we prayed the Lord's Prayer with the rest of the congregation. Uncomfortable? You bet. Would I do it differently next time? Not on your life. This man (perhaps a vet, or accident victim, or just someone carrying the cross of a birth defect) had the courage and humility to accept himself and his cross, and participate as he had been taught. Whether it was "right" or "wrong" in this case was not important.

mph said...

Thanks Anonymous