Monday, January 28, 2013

Putting on our Sunday Best

Dear Theophilus,

When it comes to special occasions, we’re often told that we need to dress in our Sunday Best. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if Sunday Best is still what people take it to mean. As I take a look around the congregation on Sunday mornings, the fashion styles run the gamut from backyard comfortable and weekend lounging to business casual and almost semi-formal.

I’ve also noticed (these are my own observations and in no way should be taken as the findings of a scientific study) a certain correlation between the age of an individual and how they dress for Mass, with younger members of the congregation dressed as though they were on their way to hang out at the mall – as though they had negotiated their clothing choice with their parents in exchange for attending Mass. It seems, however, that the casual dress code seems to continue into young adulthood for those who choose to continue going to Mass on their own. A second observation, and it’s been made to me by parishioners in this demographic, is that members of the congregation who have recently arrived in Canada or are first-generation have a tendency to dress truly in their Sunday Best for Mass.

The beauty of Catholicism is that they are there in the pew, accepted by God for who they are and the love they bring for Him. All are welcome at the Lord’s table, and all who ask will be nourished.

But do we truly understand the nourishment we’re asking for, and do we truly understand the table the Lord has invited us to?

How many of us, when we’re invited to a dinner party or go out to a high-end restaurant, take the time to primp and preen, paying special attention to our appearance? We tell ourselves that it’s a special occasion, and that we need to look the part to be able to enjoy the whole experience. Although the meal may be the focal point, but our preparation for the meal, inside and out, heightens our expectations and delights in taking part in such a special occasion.

How much more special is the meal we are called to each Sunday? How sacred is the beautiful gift of the Eucharist to us? How should we prepare ourselves to meet Christ at His table?

The Body of Christ is the only food in creation that does not become absorbed by the one eating it; it is the person partaking of the Body of Christ that is absorbed by him. In the Eucharist, Christ is not humbling himself to become food for us; rather, he is elevating us to himself so that in eating his flesh we can become more like him. How very lucky we are to receive an invitation to this banquet.

So we need to prepare. We need to make ready our minds, our hearts and our bodies to receive the Eucharist. And knowing what a wonderful supper we are invited to, should we not present ourselves to our gracious host, our Lord and God, in our Sunday Best?

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