Worship Without Words

Friday, September 22 2006
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Worship Without Words

Christians believe in the resurrection of the body and in everlasting life. We are made to praise God with our whole being, heart and mind, soul and body. The Lord Jesus-one like us in all things but sin-saved us because he loved us as human persons.

By baptism, Jesus makes us the holy people of God and invites us to take part in his own worship and prayer. He offers our praise to the Father and brings our prayers for others as part of his own prayer.

Full participation: Since the Second Vatican Council, Catholics take for granted their call to an increasingly active part in liturgy by word, action and song.

But, there are many other ways to worship God – ways we may have forgotten. To share more fully in the liturgical action, we use our bodies in posture, gesture, movement and rest. The world around us, too, the time and place in which we find ourselves, and all God’s creatures help us to offer greater praise to God.

Expressing what we mean: By our bodily actions-standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing, making the sign of the cross, greeting other persons with the peace of Christ, eating the bread of life and drinking from the cup of salvation – we express and reinforce our faith, and we encourage others in their prayer of faith.

Our bodies, and all natural things like bread, wine, water, oil and candles, have a meaning inherent in them, which directs our attention beyond body or object. When we use them in worship, we direct them to God, and they help us to express our relationship with him.

Postures: We praise God and express our faith by the way we stand, sit, kneel, or bow during the liturgy.

Gestures: The gestures that we make during Mass also express and deepen our faith and reverence:

Signs that speak: The Church invites us to use signs and symbols that speak for themselves. No longer satisfied with doing only the minimum, we use generous signs.

Good symbols are clear signs to us-a good symbol does not have to be explained to achieve its purpose.

Appealing to the senses: The liturgy reaches our hearts through our senses and thus stirs up the faith that is within us.

Silence: We also participate in the liturgy by our reverent silence at times. We pause in silent recollection during the penitential rite. When the priest says, “Let us pray,” we all pause in silence. After each reading and the homily, it is important to have a moment of silent reflection, when we may listen to the Spirit speaking deep within us. We pause for quiet reflection after the communion song. Silence at these points of the liturgy helps us to celebrate better.

* * *
In all these ways, the Lord is helping us to express our love and praise for him, and to give him worship without using words.

Lord Jesus,
Son of God and our brother,
we praise you for saving us
by your obedience to the Father.
He raised you up and declared
that you are Lord and saviour to all.

Help us to use our bodies for God’s praise:
to eat and drink, to work and love,
to rejoice and suffer, to praise and pray.

Lord Jesus,
we offer our thanks to the Father
through you as our brother
in the love of the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever. Amen!

Worship Without Words: Liturgical Leaflet, edited by the National Liturgy Office, and published by Publications Service, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2500 Don Reid Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 2J2 Canada. Copyright © Concacan Inc., 1979, 2002. All rights reserved. This text may be reproduced for personal or parish use. For commercial licence, please contact the publisher.