God is the Alpha and the Omega, and Jesus is God. So we celebrate His Kingship in this week’s Mass – but we celebrate it at EVERY Mass with our bodies when we stand, sit, kneel, bow, and genuflect. As the end of our Liturgical Year is upon us, we are having a big year-end party! The humorous or uninformed might call it “Catholic Aerobics,” but we were doing it 2000 years before Jane Fonda put on leg warmers! But why? We honor and worship Our Lord with our bodies at every Mass, and this end of our Liturgical Year is a great time to understand that, so we can move into the New Year at Advent fully giving of ourselves in Mass to The Lord. He gives entirely of Himself to us – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – in the Eucharist, and this week we reflect on that, on how He is everywhere and in everything good always, and a fun game that can be played all week without taking any extra time at all! Also included, some tidbits on the alpha and omega symbols and concrete understanding of the phrase alpha and omega‘s meaning.
Catechesis At Home – The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – Year B
Alpha and Omega
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The Alpha and the Omega
REFLECTION – The Alpha and the Omega: The Beginning and the End
We have reached the end of our liturgical year. Next Sunday, we celebrate the first week of Advent and a new Liturgical Year. The last Sunday of each year is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This title of Jesus can seem, at first, a strange one. But when we understand God as the Alpha and the Omega, Lord of ALL, Creator of the universe and all that is in it, then it makes sense.
Our second reading today is from the final book of the Bible – Revelation. It speaks of Jesus in heaven as a king. As THE KING. He is proclaimed the Alpha (α) and the Omega (Ω). Those are the alpha and omega symbols; they are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet (from which we get the word “alphabet” – the first two letters, Alpha and Beta). It is a way of saying that He is eternal, no beginning and no ending. He was there at the beginning of Time – at Creation – and will be here at the end of Time – when He comes again in glory.
Jesus explains to Pontius Pilate in the Gospel that His Kingdom is not of this world. It is the heavenly, eternal kingdom, and He submits Himself to the powers of this world of His own accord, willingly, not because He is forced to do so: He did not have to become human. He did not have to humble Himself before Pilate or the Sanhedrin, suffer humiliation, torture, and excruciating pain at His crucifixion. But. He. Did. He did all of that out of love for you and me. You are worth all of that to Him. We are all worth all of that pain and suffering. The alpha and omega meaning is “beginning, end, everything in-between. That which was, is, and always will be,” regardless of our presence in it. The Alpha and the Omega exists without us.
We look at the end this week – the Omega. It is he end of the liturgical year. And we look at the beginning – the Alpha. The beginning of the liturgical year is coming. Jesus is both. He is our new beginning and our end. Our purpose, our “end,” is to be with Him in heaven. To do that we must believe in Him, follow Him, and love like Him. Let Him be our Alpha and Omega.
DISCUSSION – Bow Before the King, the Alpha and the Omega
We have many customs and practices in our Church that can seem confusing or odd when we do not understand them. We have gestures and postures that we use at Mass and in prayer that help us to recognize and honor The Alpha and the Omega all year long. Share and talk this week about some of those and why we do them.
Genuflect – we go down on one knee (traditionally the right knee) before we enter a pew at church. Why? It is a sign of respect and reverence to King Jesus who is Present in the Tabernacle. Subjects of a king or queen genuflect in their presence to show the proper respect accorded to them and their office. Even today you can see it, for instance, when people meet the Queen of England. In most countries there is no longer a sovereign whom we honor this way, so it is a strange custom in society.
The Alpha and the Omega, Our Lord, deserves this honor, though! One important thing to keep in mind – we only genuflect with Jesus is present in the Tabernacle – so look for the red candle that indicates His Presence. And genuflect in the direction of the Tabernacle – His throne – not the altar. (If the Tabernacle is not visible, then simply bow before the altar as you enter the pew.) Genuflecting is a gesture of humility.
Bow – we bow before the altar, we bow when we pray the Creed at the Incarnation, we bow before we receive Communion. All of these are also times we show respect and honor to The Alpha and the Omega, our King and Lord. Just as in genuflecting, we do these to honor Him, and also to remind ourselves that He deserves our humble service. Bowing is a gesture of humility.
Kneel – we kneel during the Eucharistic prayer at the Consecration – the most sacred part of the Mass. It is during this time that the Holy Spirit makes heaven present to us in our churches on our altars! When the bread and wine actually become the Alpha and the Omega: the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ the King! We are kneeling at the altar of heaven! We sing with the angels and saints and proclaim the glory of God! Of course, we want to be humble in His Presence. Kneeling is a gesture of humility.
For parents, we need to explain these practices to our children so they understand the meaning behind them. If it doesn’t make sense to them, then they will not make these gestures part of their relationship with Jesus. These are ways we put ourselves at His feet, to learn from Him how we are to live on earth so we can be with Him forever in heaven. We also need to share these reasons with our friends and relatives who do not understand our Faith, because it looks to them as if we are doing a lot of silly extra stuff that doesn’t mean anything, and that we are just trying to look penitent instead of actually worshipping The Alpha and the Omega meaningfully with our entire bodies!
ACTIVITY – Sit, Stand, Kneel – Catholic Aerobics for The Alpha and the Omega!
Play a little game with your children this week. First, go through the parts of the Mass and ask them if we sit, stand, or kneel during those parts. (See below for the cheat sheet!) Then, throughout the week, at random times, call out a Mass part and everyone has to do the posture appropriate to that Mass part. For example, we stand at the Gospel. So, everyone might be sitting at breakfast or dinner and you say “Gospel”. Everyone should stand up. You can make it a little more interesting if you have a treat or prayer card for the person who does it fastest (without knocking over their chair or anyone else!).
Mass Parts Postures Game to Honor The Alpha and the Omega
Processional – Stand
Introductory Rites – Stand
First Reading, Psalm, Second Reading – Sit
Gospel Reading – Stand
Homily – Sit
Profession of Faith (Creed) – Stand
Proclaiming the Incarnation – Bow
Prayers of the Faithful – Stand
Offertory – Sit
Prayer over the Offerings – Stand
Eucharistic Prayer Preface – Stand
Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) – Stand
Eucharistic Prayer (Consecration) – Kneel
Mystery of Faith – Kneel
Lord’s Prayer (Our Father) – Stand
Sign of Peace – Stand
Lamb of God – Stand
Elevation – Kneel
Communion – we stand to receive (your parish may have a Communion Rail at which you kneel); then at our pew after receiving Communion we kneel while we pray our personal prayers of Thanksgiving
Prayer after Communion – Stand
Concluding Rites – Stand
Recessional – Stand
Play a game with your children or faith formation class. First, go through the parts of the Mass and ask them if we sit, stand, or kneel during those parts. Then, at random times, call out a Mass part and everyone has to do the posture appropriate to that Mass part. For example, we stand at the Gospel. So, everyone might be sitting you say “Gospel”. Everyone should stand up. You can make it a little more interesting if you have a treat or prayer card for the person who does it fastest (without knocking over their chair or anyone else!).
You can also make flashcards out of these and play a matching game. Match the posture to the Mass part. Make multiple copies and have children race to see who can make the matches fastest. Team up children who are more knowledgeable with ones who are just learning.
LEARN MORE – Other Alpha and Omega resources from Holy Owned and Operated:
Links open in a new tab or window according to your settings so that you can compare and continue in this lesson’s theme.
Page: On The Road To Perfection – Walking In The Catholic Faith
Page: Prayer Basics
Page: Advent Resources
Video: Fruits of the Spirit – Modesty
Podcast: Humility – Episode 38
Podcast: Taking Young Kids to Mass – Episode 14
Podcast: Mass Part 1 – Episode 55
Podcast: Mass Part 2 – Episode 56
TWMWU: Are you a Sheep or a Goat?
TWMWU: The Keys to the Kingdom
TWMWU: What is Humility?
TWMWU:A Thousand Generations
TWMWU: The Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord
Article:We Are Here to Help
What is Alpha and Omega‘s meaning to you?
by Beth & Kristofer Cowles
Other Help on HOO
What do we do about Family interactions during the holidays?
In perhaps our most fun episode to date in terms of just rolling with it, Beth tries to make a point while Kristofer goes off into la la land.
Music, movie, cartoon, disco, philosophy, sitcoms and saint references seem to come easily when one person comes from a solid family of origin and another comes from the family that put fun into dysfunctional.
But, seriously, this is good stuff with some actual pointers. And even Larry gets into it…
LOTS of show notes with timestamps here, too.