Restoring the Sense of the Sacred

By: Sem. Lance Patrick Enad

LAST January, I was privileged to assist in one of the novena masses in the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. As customary, there was the traditional Sinulog Dance right after the blessing. Normally, I am not keen on things like these as I prefer to have the time after communion as a time for silent prayer and recollection since –this is something everyone can agree with me- Holy communion and the moments after it are very special moments in which the most intimate encounter with the soul and his Blessed Lord in the blessed sacrament takes place. As people were answering “pit señor!” to the various petitions proclaimed by the commentator, I thought perhaps this is their way of expressing prayer. At these thoughts, I was happy in what seemed to be a manifestation of faith.

My view however, was changed when there was more enthusiastic responses to petitions such as “sa mga single kini,” “sa mga biktima sa gugma kini” –more enthusiastic responses accompanied by laughter, giggles, and expressions of amusement. What seemed to be an expression of prayer now appeared to be nothing but amusement that happened to be culturally significant.

What should have been a time of silent prayer, recollection, and most intimate encounter with God, became a time of amusement and levity which led to indifference to the fact that Our Lord Jesus Christ is in the hearts and souls of those who received communion. This is sad not because introverted individuals like myself prefer peace and quiet but because many do not pay attention to the Divine Visitor the received in Holy Communion. This is sad because it shows us that the sense of the sacred has been mitigated if not lost.

St. Padre Pio used to weep at the masses he offered. When asked why, he would reply in words similar to these: “who could not weep in front of our Lord in the cross?”

People used to flock at the mass celebrated by St. John Baptiste De la Salle. This was because of his piety and reverence that were so clear when he offered the Holy Sacrifice.

St. Josemaria with so much, reverence, attention, and devotion that after the mass he came out exhausted. In one of his writings, the saint mentioned how a lady learned about the death of an old priest and how the lady mentioned that the priest was very holy. When asked if she knew the priest, the lady replied: “no, but I saw him celebrate mass.” This is because our attitude during the Liturgy, especially in the Holy Eucharist, which is the center of Christian life, mirrors the status quo of our interior life –that is according to Ven. Chautard, Author of the book “the Soul of the Apostolate.”

Perhaps we may begin the restoration of the sense of the sacred by changing our attitude during the Liturgy which should be that of adoration –that is, according to no less than Pope Benedict XVI- by emphasizing devotion and attention –cum amore ac timore.

With this in mind, it is sad to see some of the faithful chat with indifference when inside the church before, during and after mass. It is also sad to see some priests chat and tag eachother during celebrations like ordinations and concelebrated masses in full view of the faithful.

The restoration of the sense of the sacred begins in small scales. It can begin by teaching our family to kneel during the rosary rather than sit with crossed legs, by teaching our kids to genuflect when they see the tabernacle or make the sign of the cross when passing by a church. It can begin by introducing our kids, our families, our friends to the practice of thanksgiving after communion –a practice that was so dear to the saints but for some reason has died out… to the detriment of souls.

If we make all the fuss about etiquette during dinner or corporate meetings, don’t we have more reason to by particular about our attitude and our behavior in the most important things: the liturgy, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

Quantum potes tantum aude –would be explained by Bp. Athanasius Schneider in his book “Dominus Est” by saying that we have to do as much as we can in sof ar as we are able to adore and express our devotion, reverence, and attention to the Blessed Sacrament.

Finally, we entrust the restoration of the sense of the sacred to St. Paschal Baylon, whose feast we celebrated yesterday. As a young man, this Eucharistic saint, compelled to be a shepherd by his family’s financial state, was said to have so great a devotion to the eucharist that as he was in the fields, he knelt in the direction of the Church where he knew mass was being celebrated. With his intercession and that of the Immaculate we restore the sense of the sacred.

Lance Patrick Enad y Caballero is a seminarian in Cebu. Instaurare omnia in Christo et Immaculata!