St. Mary Help of Christians, Aiken

Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome back to all our returning students to St. Mary’s School, and a special welcome to our new students! The faculty and staff under the direction of our principal, Mrs. Wertz, work hard to give our children an education which is both academically excellent and imbued with our Catholic faith, with Christ the Divine Teacher as our guide. Please support our school – a true apostolate of our parish.

I would like to touch on a rather sensitive subject – Mass etiquette. Please understand that what we believe about the Eucharist is what drives how we prepare for and celebrate the Mass. The Holy Mass is the greatest prayer that can be offered, and you and I are privileged participants in this divine Sacrifice. As the greatest prayer, it needs preparation. Also, I am not speaking of specific people below – just in general.

First, please try to arrive before Mass begins. Of course, legitimate things happen that make us late every so often, but let us strive to make lateness a truly extraordinary thing. Seating during the Mass, especially during the readings, is very distracting. People become distracted and miss important parts of the Sacred Scriptures. The focus needs to remain Christ. Also, please try to spend this time before Mass in silent prayer. I realize that in St. Angela Hall without a narthex it is difficult; but until our new church is finished, we must try to keep ourselves in the Catholic mindset. Remember that Jesus Christ is truly present in the tabernacle (in St. Angela Hall after the Consecration on Saturday night).

Also, please make every effort to use bathroom facilities before coming to Mass or before Mass begins. This is not like being at the movies or other entertainments. Please try “to hold it” during the Mass, unless there is a medical problem, of course. I have to admit that as a child, I wanted “to go” just to pass the time because I was bored. (My parents let me go once in seventeen years.) I really didn’t need to. If you must, please, please do not go during the Eucharistic Prayer. This is the high point of the prayer of the Mass – it doesn’t take that long. I have seen several people walking across the aisle while I am holding up the Consecrated Host to be adored. Our faith holds that this is Jesus Christ Himself, whom we are about to receive.

Finally for now, please help keep the wonderful Catholic custom of genuflecting to Christ in the Tabernacle before entering and leaving the pew (chairs), and also any time we pass the central axis of the altar and tabernacle. As Catholics, we never cross the central axis of churches without a genuflection (or at the very least a bow, for those impeded from genuflecting). This keeps us mindful that we are in a sacred space.

Thank you for helping keep the Mass reverent and holy!
Father Wilson