by Paul Turner

Present at the Eucharist as the people of God, we share an awesome task. We the baptized are the ones God has chosen to be a royal priesthood. At Eucharist, the task of the whole people is priestly. We give thanks to God and offer the perfect sacrifice, the Body and Blood of Christ, together with ourselves. It is not the presider alone who makes this offering -- it is all of us. Consequently, attention to our duty is critical for a meaningful celebration of the Eucharist. The church asks us to act with reverence -- for the Eucharist, for our role in it and for the community. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says the faithful "should endeavor to make [their role] clear by their deep sense of reverence for God and their charity toward all who share with them in the celebration" (62).
Reverence and charity may take different forms. Entering the church, we greet those with whom we will celebrate this Mass. We sign ourselves with water that recalls our priestly mission. We bow to the altar where our thanksgiving will be made or we genuflect to the tabernacle if it is central in the sanctuary. We sing the songs. We make the responses. We listen to God's word. We pray all the prayers, even those spoken by the presider alone.
We share the Eucharist in faith.
At times our actions may threaten the task we perform. When we needlessly attend to other matters or neglect the songs and silences and prayers, we make it difficult for ourselves and for others to carry the reverence and charity needed for our task. Mass is not like watching a band perform music; it's like playing an instrument in the band. Sometimes you play with everyone else; sometimes you rest; sometimes you solo. But we all make the music. It requires attention and teamwork.
To carry out our priestly mission we practice reverence for God and charity for one another. If someone else's idea of reverence conflicts with yours, practice charity. It helps us fulfill our awesome task.

Copyright © 1998, Resource Publications, Inc. 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. This article may not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.  For permission e-mail
Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant' Anselmo University in Rome.