Savoring seems to be a lost art in our fast-food culture. We usually associate the word savor with food or drink. We savor a delicious bite of food or a sip of good wine. To savor literally means to “give oneself to the enjoyment of.” It means to be mindful of that which you are eating and drinking – to unite body and mind in the present moment of tasting.
I believe that we are called to savor the liturgy. Too often, we approach (and teach) the liturgy as something that we passively attend, expecting to be “entertained.” We tend to think that the only people really engaged in the Mass are those who have “special” roles such as liturgical ministers. I propose that one of the most powerful ways that we members of the assembly can participate fully, actively, and consciously in the liturgy is by savoring the various elements of the Mass.
I came upon this insight recently as I sat in church waiting for Mass to begin. I watched the server lighting the candles next to the altar and I found myself savoring the flame. At a recent funeral Mass, I found myself savoring the smell of incense. We can savor so many elements of the liturgy using all of our senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste. So, what are some of the things we can savor at Mass? I suggest the following:
- moments of silence
- lyrics to the hymns
- words and phrases from the Scripture readings
- words and phrases from the prayers of the Mass
- words and phrases from the homily
- gestures and movements of the Mass
- the taste of the Eucharist
- flowers and liturgical decorations
- the smell of incense and/or candles
- the sight of flames burning on candles
What else? What can we teach others to savor at the Mass? What do you savor most at Mass?