“Please share that with Jamie.” Arms crossed, shoulder shrug. T was able to communicate perfectly without uttering a syllable.
Bill and I finally decided that we would no longer allow T to cross her arms. We reasoned that arm crossing was a defiant gesture that spoke just as loudly as any back-talk.
As we worked with her to change her habit, we noticed that when she stopped the gesture of defiance, her attitude followed suit. She became more agreeable to our requests, as if her mind followed the direction of her body.
We communicate a great deal with our bodies—a handshake of hello, a wave goodbye. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Mass requires movement; the postures and gestures of our bodies at Mass can help us to become more prayerful. Gestures also are a way to show unity among those gathered.
The Sign of the Cross: Arguably Christianity’s most recognizable prayer, we don’t even need to say the words as we mark ourselves with this sign of our faith. At Mass we make the Sign of the Cross with holy water as we come in and leave; as the Mass begins and at the final blessing; at the beginning and end of our silent prayer when we kneel. At home try making the sign of the cross when you leave home for the day or to begin car trips and family meal and bedtime prayers.
Genuflecting: “You wouldn’t go into somebody’s home without saying hello, and I was taught you shouldn’t do that in church either,” says Maria, mother of two young teens. “When you come into church, genuflecting is the act of preparing and readying yourself for the presence of God.” Genuflect comes from the Latin “to bend the knee.” During the liturgy, the priest genuflects three times—after lifting up both the bread and the cup and before Communion. The congregation genuflects before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, usually when we enter and leave church, as a sign of reverence to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Praying with hands open: Known as the orans, the priest uses this posture for many prayers during the Mass including the Eucharistic Prayer. In many parishes the congregation uses it for the Lord’s Prayer. Try this at home with your kids, lifting your hands to pray the Lord’s Prayer, for example. …to be continued next week
by Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2010 General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association. Here’s a sample issue.
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