The Importance of Humility While in Church

Lenin’s Tomb vs. Catholic Masses

I visited Moscow in 2002. I saw all the typical tourist sites in Red Square and the Kremlin. One popular destination is Lenin’s tomb where you can actually see the crazy revolutionary preserved in a glass coffin. Unlike certain saints whose bodies are uncorrupted, Lenin is preserved artificially and so there probably isn’t much of his real body left. I’m going to talk about my experience visiting Lenin’s tomb and compare that to my typical Sunday Mass.

You have to follow strict guidelines when visiting Lenin’s tomb. You can’t bring any food, drinks, or backpacks. Photography and videos aren’t allowed. There are armed military guards enforcing silence. They will stare you down in a threatening way at the slightest whisper. I’m not sure what would happen if you didn’t follow protocol. The whole environment is set up so that one doesn’t want to find out.

Let us now walk through a first Communion Mass I recently attended. Before the Mass started, people were chatting in the pews. I saw plenty of ripped jeans, T-shirts, and low-cropped tops. People casually walked in with cups of coffee as if they were looking for a table at the local Starbucks. During the Mass, small conversations started up whenever there was enough musical cover to mask the sound. Responses from the congregation were weak and muffled as only a tiny fraction of people knew the proper responses of the Mass. Even grandmothers, who are usually the bastions of holiness, were just as bad as the kids they were supposed to be examples for.

Meeting God’s Expectations

It’s sad that people give the tomb of a revolutionary who caused the death and suffering of millions so much reverence while disrespecting the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. This isn’t a matter of ignorance either. I didn’t visit Lenin’s tomb to honor him. I was a tourist, and his tomb is one of the sites people visit in Moscow. But I still had to follow the rules and guidelines. Similarly, anyone entering a Catholic church, whether practicing or not, should understand that it’s a sacred space and act appropriately.

The casualness we approach Mass is a symptom of the deadliest of sins — pride. It’s us telling God that we are going to do what we feel like, not what he expects. We put ourselves, our fashion, our routines, and our wants before his. We tell him that we won’t humble ourselves to dress and act appropriately in his presence. We are like Satan proclaiming, “I will not serve,” whenever we don’t honor and praise God when we are in his presence.

Bringing Humility to your Parish

I’m probably preaching to the choir about how to dress and act when in the presence of God. Mary has already helped instill a spirit of humility if you regularly pray the Rosary. I’m going to offer this challenge to you. If your parish is too casual in its practices, tell the pastor. Ask him to introduce more reverence into the Mass. I mentioned this to our pastor and now we have a moment of silence before our Masses. We are still far from the reverence and humility that God deserves, but it’s a start.

If you’re concerned about the casualness of your parish, pray and meditate on the Fifth Luminous Mystery — The Institution of the Eucharist. We need to remind ourselves just how precious and sacred a church is. When we see the light of the presence on the altar, we need to remember that Jesus is right there. It’s an awesome opportunity to present all our sorrows, concerns, and thanksgivings to him. We occupy a relatively small sliver of human existence that gets to come before Jesus every time we enter a Catholic church. Pray that you don’t squander that opportunity by talking about sports or the wonderful vacation you have planned.