By Mary Lou Rosien
I remember reading a question once about the, “Squiggly thing we do before the Gospel reading.” The writer posing the question didn’t know why Catholics made the sign of the Cross on their foreheads, lips and over their hearts. As I began to question my students, I realized that many of them didn’t understand what we were doing either.
When we make the sign of the cross over these three places, we ask the Lord to let His Word live in our minds, lips and hearts.
The two parts of the Mass are undeniably united; The Liturgy of the Word is connected to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In both, we are brought to God and He to us. Our mandate in this life is simple, to love God with all our hearts, minds, strength and soul. (Deut. 6:5) How can we do this and what does it have to do with the ‘squiggly thing?’
To love God, His Word must live in our minds. We read the Word. We study His Word to understand it. Through the Catechism of the Catholic Church we are able to effectively do this. We do not need to really solely on our own interpretation in fact, if we do this we could be in error. I have had this experience myself. I once used a Bible verse that I believed illustrated a point I was trying to make. A priest friend of mine gently corrected me by explaining the preceding part of the reading and showing me that I had misunderstood the verse.
I enjoy listening to Bible studies from other faiths, but without the guidance of Mother Church, you find inconsistencies between different pastors’ understandings of the verses. We are blessed to have the full deposit of faith in the Catholic Church and a true interpretation of the Bible guided by the Holy Spirit. Does this mean the Holy Spirit cannot use a certain verse to expand your own understanding of a personal situation? Of course not. God reveals, what God reveals in the way He wants to, but, as I always tell my own children, “If you are not sure about something, throw it up against the Catechism and see if it sticks!”
Once we understand the Word of God, it should live on our lips. We cannot provide guidance, love and instruction to others in the faith if we are afraid to speak it ourselves. Memorizing small verses, reading a few lines from the Bible in the morning and repeating it to ourselves during the day, these things bring God’s words to our lips frequently.
Live in our hearts, Lord. When we understand God’s Word more fully, speak it with reverence, we will feel our love for Him grow in our hearts. How often have I heard my conscience whisper a verse to me, when I am about to make a mistake, or even better, when I need to do something?! It is not enough to have a conscience, it must be an informed conscience. Informed by God’s Word, the understanding of His Word, a willingness to speak the Word and finally, to act with your heart, accordingly.
Mary Lou Rosien writes from her home in N. Chili, NY. She is the author of Managing Stress with the Help of Your Catholic Faith (OSV Publishing). Email her with questions or ideas at email@example.com.
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