Movement and gestures engage our bodies in worship. At every mass, we are invited to share a sign of God’s peace with others – by the shaking of hands. We hold out our hands to receive the bread and we assist the person administering the cup to guide it to our lips. On special occasions we process inside the church and sometimes outdoors.
You may notice other gestures and movements that people use. These include:
- Bowing the head when the name of “Jesus” is spoken
- Making the sign of the Cross, particularly when the congregation is blessed and when the priest pronounces God’s forgiveness. (This it done by touching the forehead, chest, left shoulder and then right shoulder.)
- Making the sign of the Cross on the forehead, lips and heart when the gospel reading is announced. This symbolises our prayer that the truth of the gospel may be in our minds, on our lips and on our hearts
- Reverencing the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood with a genuflection (kneeling down briefly on the right knee) or a profound bow.
The use of these gestures has ancient roots in Christian worship and many find that, as they become more familiar with them, these gestures help to deepen their experience of worship. At the same time, these gestures are optional, and each person will find for themselves their own pattern.
Music is a central part of our Sunday morning worship at sung and solemn masses. “The one who sings, prays twice” is a phrase attributed to Saint Augustine of Hippo. Music engages our hearing and can be a particularly powerful way for a group of people to enter more closely together in prayer, praise and worship.
Bells also engage our hearing as they are rung to draw our attention to the mystery of the transformation of bread and wine into Christ’s Body and Blood given for us.