Friday, 3 June 2016

A Walkthrough the Mass at a Catholic Peninsular Malaysian Church - Preliminaries

When you arrive at a Catholic church for Mass, what do you do? Some people may be familiar with the gestures, postures, protocol and other observances in a Catholic church, but there may be some who may have not step into a Catholic church before; or they may have not been in one often enough to know the gestures, postures, protocol and other observances; or they may be visiting from another country and there may be some observances which are peculiar to the other country, or they may have not known, noticed or observed in their home parish or in churches in their country.

So this guideline is to help familiarise ourselves with the gestures, postures, protocol and other observances common to the Dioceses of Malaysia, especially Peninsular Malaysia, as indicated in the General Instructions of the Roman Missal, when one is at the grounds and inside a Catholic church. Note that Singapore and Brunei would share many of these common gestures, postures, protocol and other observances, since these countries come under one Bishop Conference, that is the Bishops Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Prior to coming to church, it is presupposed that you would have dressed your Sunday best. When we attend an important function in the presence of royalty or some VIP (Very Important Person), we would surely dress our best. Likewise, we should dress our best for Mass, since we are going to be in the presence of the King of kings. Besides that, it is hoped that you would have left your premises early, so that you have ample time to arrive at church early, find parking space, and get to the church. Moreover, it is advisable that you would have read the readings of the Sunday beforehand, preferably from the Sunday Missal, so that you would have some idea of the theme and significance of the particular Sunday Mass.

Also, you would observe the one hour fast before Communion. Why do we observe this one hour fast before Communion? The purpose of the fast is to prepare ourselves to receive the Eucharist by focusing our thoughts and attention on our need for God, our desire for communion with him and the importance and sacredness of what we do. People who are sick, advanced in years, or who have medical problems that make fasting difficult, have no obligation to observe it.

The fast can be looked at several ways. It makes me think about what I need to do in order to receive Communion, so my preparation begins even before I come to church. It reminds me of my need for the bread of life and cup of salvation to satisfy a spiritual hunger and thirst. It requires of me a small degree of self-discipline, directing my actions and my body to a higher good.

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