What We Do in Church and Why.
Actually, you shouldn't feel afraid to ask what these things all mean
we're always happy to explain.
While it might look ritual-bound, everything we do in the services has some symbolic meaning that forms another layer of interpretation to the worship, and engages our multiple senses in the expression of our faith.
People often have commented on the beauty of our services, but we know it can seem a little daunting at first. Please know that you are welcome to participate in as little or as much as you wish.
The daily Mass is at the centre of our faith. It is celebrated every Sunday with Sung and Said Masses, and regularly during the week throughout our churches.
Actions of the body
We stand for prayer and praise, to express our worship of God with our bodies. We sit to receive instruction, and we kneel in penitence and at certain solemn moments. We genuflect (literally 'bend the knee') when we enter the church building and at the Tabernacle in the Lady Chapel where the sacramental presence of Jesus is keep in the form of the Reserved Sacrament.
Sign of the Cross
The cross represents the way our Lord died, and by making the sign of the cross, we acknowledge God's blessing and sacrifice, and worship and adore him through it.
This is used to bless and purify, and as a reminder of our baptism.
Incense represents our prayers rising to God and alludes to the smoke arising from sacrificial offerings. As well, it is used to set apart and honour sacred objects, areas and the people participating. We also cense persons as we ask God to bless them.
We ring large bells from the bell tower, and small sanctuary bells rung by servers during services.
Vestments are used to mask the personal identities of the servers and ministers to allow focus on the ministry itself. The priest's vestments include the chasuble, symbolising our Lord's seamless robe, over a white alb, which hearkens to Jesus' command to those who would serve.
The colours of the priests' robes and the altar draperies are meant to call attention to the 'rhythm' or theme of the day, service or season: