There are many traditions we take part in each Sunday and in some cases every day as Catholics, but where do they come from and why do we do them.
Find some answers below.
Make the Sign of the Cross? – This simple gesture is one that sets Catholics apart from many other denominations. It is used in the administration of all the Sacraments. It was used from the earliest times in the church for many reasons including helping to recognise other Christians during times of persecution. From the beginning of Mass, to the start of a meal and beginning a journey or passing a Church the sign of the cross is a simple yet intimate way to remember our Baptism into God’s family and of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice.
“Let me not have my forehead bare – let the cross of my Lord cover it”. St Augustine’s sermon on Psalm 141
Stand for the Gospel? – Though we sit to hear the readings from the Old and New Testament as well as the Psalms we stand to ‘greet’ the Gospel with an Alleluia verse. It has been customary that throughout the Church’s history all would stand and reading and hearing of the Gospel would be treated with the utmost reverence. In the 3rd century it was noted in Apostolic Constitutions that “When the Gospel is being read, let all the priests, deacons and all the people stand with great quietness.” Standing to hear the Gospel on a Sunday or daily Mass should challenge us to stand up for the living the Gospel in our lives and communities.
Say grace at meals? – Many of us may have grown up with a formula which is recited at meals before we take our first bites. The most commonly used is “Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts…..” Did you know that this is from the Latin blessing and goes back to Pope Gelasius Bishop of Rome from 492-496 A.D.!!! St. John Chrysostom commented on Matthew’s Gospel account of the Last Supper saying. “He (Jesus) gave thanks before giving to the disciples, so that we might give thanks also. He gave thanks and sang hymns after distributing so that we might do the same” It is a simple acknowledgement that before we eat the food before us, we give thanks to Him who has provided for us.