Head, Lips and Heart: We pray for bravery at every Mass

There is a scene in the film “Sgt. Bilko” where Phil Hartman’s character Major Thorn is on a date with Glenne Headly’s character Rita. They order some wine and trying to impress Rita, Major Thorn picks up the cork and sniffs it.

Rita asks “Why do you smell the cork?”

And Major Thorn responds with “Your eyes are hazel,” obviously not knowing the answer to her question. (Rita’s eyes are actually green.)

I felt like this a while ago when my brother-in-law asked me why we (Catholics) cross ourselves on the forehead, lips and heart at the beginning of the gospel reading at Mass. I vaguely remembered something Sr. Jane had said way back in 3rd grade about mind, tongue and heart, but didn’t have any details to fill in. 

I did not comment on his eye color, though. (Blue, I think?)

Turns out, it boils down to courage. Admitting fault in ourselves and preparing ourselves to receive the word of God in a way that we can change ourselves for the better is no easy task. 

For the word which Christ brought and which is set down in this book we are willing to stand up with a mind that is open, we are ready to confess it with our mouth, and above all we are determined to safeguard it faithfully in our hearts. (CIN-Origin of the Sign of the Cross, Father Mateo, July 28, 1991)

In this action we are also mimicking the action of the priest who silently prays “Almighty God, cleanse my heart and my lips that I may worthily proclaim Your Gospel” as he bows before the Gospel reading. He then not only crosses his head, lips and heart, but starts by crossing the reading.

We too want (and need) the Word to penetrate our thoughts, words and actions. This small gesture is a physical reminder to ourselves to be open to whatever transformation the Word will make in our life. It’s a prayer for bravery.

So in what small way have you been brave in your faith this week? What is one small thing you can do this week?

4 Comments, RSS

  1. Mary Ellen July 26, 2016 @ 1:53 pm

    Always enjoy what you have to say. I am printing this. I am responsible for our small parish’s bulletin. Guess what will be in this weeks! We all need to learn more about being Catholic!
    Great Job!

    • Megan July 26, 2016 @ 3:39 pm

      Thank you, Mary Ellen! Sometimes I get intimidated by how little I know about my faith, but the openness and caring of our community never fails to warm my heart!

  2. Laurie July 26, 2016 @ 8:12 pm

    So appropriate for today. The French priest murdered at the altar during morning Mass. Martyred at the altar.

  3. […] few weeks back I had written about crossing our head, lips and heart before the Gospel at Mass. This is a sacramental. It reminds us […]

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