In these months of receiving the revised texts of the Mass, we could be forgiven for focusing only on the texts. It is true that the new texts are taking our attention and effort at the moment. But this rediscovery of the gift of the Mass invites us to a much broader project. These months of renewal are an opportunity for us to appreciate anew the beauty of the Mass. In every Mass, our human senses are re-activated and re-oriented towards God. The Mass, when celebrated well, engages our physical senses, so enabling the senses of the soul to become more sensitive to the activity of God with us. In the Mass we listen and we speak. We see. We touch. Even our sense of smell is engaged as the incense rises. Our bodies are active in worship of God as we kneel and stand. We bow and beat our breasts. We process. We listen and look. The Mass is not simply a ‘spiritual’ event. It is also a physical action. When Jesus enters bread and wine, transforming them into his body and blood, this is much more than a spiritual experience. It is a tangible event. It is a corporeal reality. And so our ‘spiritual life’ is a profoundly ‘physical’ existence. The fullness of God has become fully present in earthly elements. The bread and wine now have a new reality. They are God-with-us. We consume this reality and every cell of our bodies becomes a new creation. We too easily make the mistake of thinking of God as only ‘spiritual’ and dwelling only in the human ‘soul’. Yes, God is Spirit, and God does live in the soul. But the process of human growth invites God to transform every emotion, every experience, every encounter. The full presence of God, in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is a physical reality among us. Now that this divine reality has been communicated to us, we have become the vehicles of the divine word to the world. Our awakened bodies become the voice through which we tell of God: through our words, and work, the way we look and listen. Every aspect of our presence in the world becomes the vehicle of our inner life with God to our family, friends, neighbours and to all people. The liturgy of the Church seeks to engage our hearts, minds AND bodies, in worship of God. One of the most universal and popular prayers highlights this. When we make the Sign of the Cross we use movement to accompany our invocation of the Trinity.
The Sign of the Cross is not simply a convenient way to begin and end prayer. The Sign of the Cross IS prayer. We have prayed this prayer often and habitually. We rejoice when we see a sportsman or stranger quickly make this sign in a moment of need or thanksgiving.
The Sign of the Cross, even without the conscious use of words, is a powerful prayer. On this Trinity Sunday, let us rediscover this short, simple and beautiful prayer; the prayer that engages our bodies in participation in the full life of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.