Worshiping Together as a Family
As I get older, I realize that my parents’ commitment to attending Mass together as a family rooted me in our great faith tradition. I vividly remember having no idea what I was supposed to do when we arrived at Church and first knelt down in our pew. As a self-proclaimed momma’s boy, I looked to my mother for guidance. I knelt next to her, folded my hands as she did, and waited until she sat down before pausing, making the Sign of the Cross, and sitting next to her.
Worshiping the Lord as a community is incredibly important. It is so important, in fact, that the Church requires that we do this each week unless illness or some other serious situation makes it impossible. St. Justin Martyr gives us a beautiful account of the weekly worship of Christians in a letter to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) around the year 155. He writes:
On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.
From the beginning, Sunday communal worship was a distinguishing mark of the Christian community. Why?
First, we need to worship God as a community because God chose to save individuals who are also part of a community. He called not just individuals but the people of Israel. In the same way, he leads us to salvation through the community of the Church.
Second, worshiping with others helps us to learn from them. Just like I learned from my mother without knowing what was happening, we learn from those around us at Mass. When we enter into worship next to the same people week after week, we grow in community and are aided in our prayer. Seeing a reverent person in the congregation helps me to become more reverent as I approach the altar of God.
Lastly, worshiping with others helps us to grow through struggle. At times, we will be distracted by the people around us and perhaps become frustrated. These trials are opportunities for growing in virtue, especially patience. It can also be an opportunity to lend a helping hand or say a kind word to someone struggling.
For these reasons, I made a conscious decision to design our new Church to be filled as one cohesive community. I desire all - young and old and everyone in between - to worship together in the Church. I am happy to share that there will be a few spaces where a parent can quiet a child and for nursing moms who would like more privacy: To keep the parent and child included, they can hear and see the Mass through speakers and glass doors within The Narthex until they can rejoin the full community. Sound will extend to the Baptistry and North Vestibule, which are connected to the Narthex. There will be two Restrooms with changing tables accessible from the Narthex. We are also exploring the possibility of using a Visiting Room within the cafe for nursing mothers to provide comfort and greater privacy.
I look forward to worshiping together as one family in Our New Home. Until then, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating our rich history and promising future at the Homecoming Centennial Brunch on October 22 after the 10:00 AM Mass.
Fr. Patrick Broussard