What I see when I look out is a wide variety of postures and clothing. The ones that strike me the most are the people who are casually dressed, or dressed very inappropriately, and they are not necessarily one and the same. I'm also struck by the poor posture of some, especially my own teenager, who sit with elbows on knees, chin in hands, and eyes facing the floor. I do understand being physically exhausted or terribly sleepy on occasion, but every Sunday?
I've noted before that this posture is disrespectful, to say the least, but I've been looking for an opportunity to bring up the subject again, as I keep thinking that if we habitually practice such a poor posture, that it would begin to have an effect on what we think and believe. I also thought that I might be a little off-base there...until I read Fr. Barron's lenten reflection this morning. Do click over and read the whole thing if you haven't subscribed (it's short!), but here's a snippet:
It is not so much keen feelings of devotion that force us to our knees as kneeling that gives rise to keen feelings of devotion. If you're having difficulty in prayer today, try kneeling, or bowing, or making some sort of reverent gesture. The body often leads the mind into a deeper spiritual space.
When I was not in the choir, and sitting with the rest of the family, I was always adamant about their postures. Kneeling with one's bottom against the pew is not acceptable in a normal, healthy individual who is not otherwise weakened by a stressful camping trip or recent illness! Proper kneeling and sitting or standing erect during the various parts of the Mass show respect for the people and the activity. I can't help but believe that it actually affects how much one actually respects and cares about the sacrifice of the Mass! I
In a similar vein, we're pretty adamant about a certain standard of dress for Mass on Sundays. No jeans, no shorts, no short skirts or otherwise inappropriate clothing. Though I will confess that skirts as long as I would like can be hard to find for my growing, lanky girl! We may be found in jeans at a weekday Mass, but they're on the nicer side; boys wear collared shirts, etc. We have our own standards, but we try not to judge others! I understand that sometimes people are legitimately late, or decided on the spur of the moment that Mass & receiving Jesus took priority over anything else that day! But, as a rule, shouldn't one's dress for Mass indicate that we're going to a banquet with the Creator of the Universe?
I've noticed the same thing in family prayer. Normally, we say a decade of the rosary, and most of the time, everyone can handle staying on their knees that long. But we don't pressure them to do so all the time. For Lent, we've been praying the whole rosary, and there's much more sitting. Even lying down and playing with the rosaries. And my youngest is 12, folks! There's no reason on God's green earth that she can't kneel for 16-17 minutes! I don't think we want to apply undo pressure so that family prayer becomes a huge burden and a battleground, but I think sitting respectfully and using the beads is a minimal requirement.
What I'm talking about here is our habitual posture and dress for Mass and prayer. Maybe you don't think it's a big deal today, but when it becomes a habit, are we revealing how we feel about the activity we're participating in? If you don't think so, do you think it might affect how one feels about it later, after years of slouching and assuming a bored posture? Like a teen...who acts bored every Sunday at Mass...even if he says he isn't...and then goes to college where he suddenly has the freedom to decide if he goes to Mass or not, and maybe he remembers that attitude because, now, he thinks he really was bored? Heaven forbid.
What do you think about this? I'd love to hear your thoughts!