All posts tagged: Mass

The Mass for Millennials: Sign of the Cross

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.” We begin and conclude Mass with this simple and profound prayer. But have we really thought about what it means to make the “sign of the cross”? Let’s start with the obvious. The “sign of the cross” is made by saying the Trinitarian invocation while touching one’s right hand to the forehead first (Father), then to the lower chest or stomach (Son), then to the left shoulder and the right shoulder (Holy Spirit), and closing with both our hands together for assent (Amen). Are these physical actions just arbitrarily chosen, or do they signify something? Why do we touch the forehead when we mean God the Father? Why do we touch our chest when mean God the Son? And why do we touch our shoulders when we mean the God the Holy Spirit? The Church fathers actually interpreted each of these actions to mean something. For them, the forehead symbolizes heaven, the stomach the earth, and the shoulders as …

The Mass for Millennials: Entrance Song

The people have already come into the church (well, most of them have arrived). Individual practices are everywhere. Some genuflect before taking their pew. Some bow solemnly before the altar, then sit. Others wave to friends and family and start to make small talk while mindlessly half-genuflecting and then sitting to make a cursory prayer. In just a few moments, however, these people will be receiving one of the greatest gifts given to humanity. The Eucharist. These people will remain in their chosen pew until the time comes for them to process up to the altar of God to receive a tiny piece of what was once bread and a little sip of what was once wine that will transform their hearts and minds. Before the Mass even begins, before we can truly approach the presence of God, we must acknowledge how divided we are, how fallen we are, how prideful we are. And so we sing. When people sing together, “miracles” happen. People who know they cannot hold a tune sing out with glee. …

The Mass for Millennials

At the heart of Catholic life is the celebration of the Mass. This does not mean that Catholics’ only purpose in the world is to attend Mass regularly. Catholics serve the poor. They join together with one another in informal prayer. They hang out at bars and talk about theology. Yet, the number of young adults (or for short Millennials) regularly attending Mass continues to drop. In 2007, 34% of Catholics between the 18-29 attended Mass once per week. Such numbers seem to bear out on Notre Dame’s own campus, where there has been a decline in attendance at Mass over the last fifteen years. Dorms that used to have seventy people on a Sunday night, now have thirty. The decline in “institutional” religious practice is something that “institutional” religions will have to do something about. The Center for Liturgy will be launching a new series entitled “The Mass for Millennials” as a resource for those young adults, who may want to consider more frequent Mass attendance as part of their lives. We’ve asked undergraduates …