Body language

franWhen our now 7-year-old foster daughter first came to live with us a year and a half ago, whenever she didn’t like something Bill or I said to her, she’d cross her arms over her chest.

“Please put away your toys.” Arms crossed.

“Please share that with Jamie.” Arms crossed, shoulder shrug. Teenasia was able to communicate perfectly without uttering a syllable.

Bill and I finally decided that we would no longer allow Teenasia 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.

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.    …continued next week

By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our FaithClaretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2013 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past four years running. Here’s a sample issue.

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