There are three pious practices that we no longer encounter and that had been not just customary, but instinctive to Catholics—up to 40 or so years ago when the notion of piety fell into disrepute, together with many of the customs long cherished—and practiced—by Catholics, not for years, but for centuries. They were simple things really, that we seldom see because well, they are rarely done and yet of themselves, speak volumes of our loss of the sacred.
We no longer bow our heads at the name of Jesus; We no longer make the Sign of the Cross over our hearts or foreheads when we pass by a Catholic Church where Christ dwells in the Blessed Sacrament; We no longer make reparation whenever we hear the Sacred Name of Jesus uttered blasphemously.
A flood of memories came rushing in upon me last week at Mass. I noticed an impeccably dressed elderly woman bowing each time the priest uttered the name, Jesus. I looked around the congregation and out of perhaps 300, this behavior was instantiated in perhaps only 5 or 6.
As I left the church, I remembered other things Catholics did back when I was a child. Whenever they walked in front of a Church, they would make a tiny Sign of the Cross over their hearts in a hidden kind of way, and quietly utter, Gloria tibi Domini, because Jesus was inside the Church.
There was one other thing, I remember. When someone used the Lord’s name in vain. Instead of just letting it pass, they would finish the sentence by adding, “Have mercy on us”. That way, it brought something good out of sin—they made it an opportunity to ask God’s mercy both for the person and for themselves.
Sad to say, not only do the laity no longer exercise some of these pious and beautiful practices—but neither do some of our priests and religious. They use what Catholics once called the “Sacred Name” so lightly, attaching to it a significance apparently no greater than any other name that passes from their lips. But it was not always so. For many, many centuries it was not so. But piety has become so...disreputable in our time. It is a term of disdain, a concept fraught with an intolerable otherworldliness that no longer has a place in our time and in our world. JMJ. (the July Canticle of the St. Francis Fraternity - author unknown) Mick, OFS