Monday, January 17, 2005

Reverence: Revealing the Presence of God

Revealing the HolyThis article by Diana Macalintal first appeared in Eucharistic Ministries #246, September 2004.

Reverence, which is the synthesis of love and fear.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Spirituality is the consistent integration between action and feeling, the marriage of creed and deed. A Christian spirituality is one of reverence. It is our intimate love for the mysterious God expressed through our ordinary actions to reveal the extraordinary presence of the Creator in all things. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal defines reverence as an “interior disposition and outward expression” that proclaim the mystery of the Lord’s presence (3). Through our reverence, we are evangelizers, prophets and icons that say, “Look! God is here.”

As liturgical ministers exercising public ministry, think of yourselves as signposts for the holy. We have to know not only where to point but also how to give clear directions. That is, the sign we present has to accurately convey what we believe.
  • Do you outwardly express your respect for the holiness of time and the work of the liturgy by giving time during the week to prepare for your ministry and arriving early before Mass?
  • Do you show your belief in the Incarnation — God in human skin — by clothing yourself with dignity and moving with intention and grace?
  • Do you honor the Body of Christ with words and actions by making and keeping your commitments to your parish community?

The church has always been about reverence for the holy. Yet, this reverence must always flow from an integration of action and feeling, an equal expression of familiar intimacy and dreadful mystery and a deep respect for both the human and the divine. Reverence without love is piousness, and reverence without awe (fear) is carelessness. Reverence never expressed deadens love, and reverence that attends only to the human or the divine while ignoring the other is idolatry.

As we proclaim the mystery of the Lord’s presence, we must do so from that middle ground between love and fear. When we walk upon holy ground, we remove our shoes to feel the dirt between our toes. We know in our bones and in our hearts that Eucharist is both meal and sacrifice, the altar is both dinner table and gravestone and the Gospel is both word of comfort and two-edged sword. As artists of faith, we pay attention to the discipline of structure, form and rubrics so as to move confidently, freely and gracefully through the dance that is the liturgy. We point to altar and tabernacle, font and infant, baptismal garment and priestly stole, host, cup, communicant and minister alike and proclaim with our thought and our actions, “Look! God is here.”