The Calling of Peter and Andrew

The Calling of Peter and Andrew
The Calling of Peter and Andrew by Domenico Ghirlandaio, (Fresco, 1481-1482, Sistine Chapel)

Saturday, August 30, 2014


On Saturdays, the focus of this blog will be “Men Preparing for Sunday Mass”: Understanding, participating in, and appropriating the full graces of the Mass as Catholic men.

When you stand at Mass, stand like you mean it.

This may seem like a rather paltry bit of advice to Catholic men as they attend Mass.  And no, this is not a guide to proper liturgical posture.

Well, actually, it is.

A man comes to Mass to stand before His Lord and Savior, offering praise, thanksgiving, repentance, petitions … and himself.  Romans 12:1: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  A man standing at Mass is a man standing at attention.  “Attending” is a word used for servants and soldiers.  Standing is a posture of loyalty and readiness.  A Catholic man at Mass is prepared to receive, prepared to offer.

When a seminarian learns how to preside at Mass, the professors do not hesitate to instruct him in his posture, his “bearing.”  No slouching allowed at the Altar or the Chair.  We are attending to God as His priestly ministers.  (And now, are you ready for some behind-the-scenes Priest Trivia? A future priest is taught to stand with the back of his legs slightly pressed against the front edge of his chair, for reasons that I hope are obvious.  I once saw a priest at Mass sit back down onto nothingness, and that was enough to convince me to observe the ol’ leg-against-chair trick.)

And have you noticed that I am not venturing near the kneeling-vs.-standing issue that crops up from time to time?   Another topic, for another day.  But allow me to note that I have observed men kneeling at Mass in a reverent, even obsequious manner, only to rise into a slouch worthy of the most bored of teenagers. 

Outward posture reflects  --  and shapes  --  inward disposition.  Do we understand what is happening at every Mass?  Something worth standing for attentively.  Someone worth standing before attentively.

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