Walk Through the Mass
For four weeks in late October and November 2011, our parish offered our worshiping community a breakdown of the Mass. So as not to overwhelm any one weekend, we divided the liturgy into four sections: The Introductory Rites, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and the Closing Rites. Each part of the liturgy was introduced by a lector; the commentary used was a mixture of history, definition, and instruction to remind us of why each portion of the Mass is included in our weekly liturgy.
After the Opening Song
The Introductory Rites of the Mass begin with the Sign of Cross. We accept the cross upon ourselves as Jesus told us to do when he said, “If you wish to be my follower, take up your cross and follow me.” The priest greets us in the same way the disciples would greet one another and the way St. Paul greeted the early Christians in his letters.
After the Sign of the Cross and Greeting
We prepare our minds and hearts for this meeting with the Lord and one another. By calling to mind our need for forgiveness, we recall Jesus’ words: “If you are on your way to the altar, but recall that you have an argument against your brother, go settle with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift.”
After the Penitential Act, Before the Gloria
We then proclaim our joy in God’s love and mercy in our hymn of praise drawn from the song of the angels at the birth of the Savior at Bethlehem. We begin using the new translation of the Glory to God today – you may compare the new setting side by side with the older translation found in the song sheet.
After the Gloria, Before the Opening Prayer
There are several moments where silence is called for: after each reading from Scripture, following the homily, and each time the priest calls us to pray. Silence and response are a part of the dialogue throughout the Mass as a sign that we do not simply watch the priest at prayer; the priest leads and lifts us in prayer. Each time he says, “Let us pray,” we are given a few moments of silence to bring to mind all that we ask of the Lord. The priest then draws our prayers together. We affirm and acclaim this prayer as our own as we respond, “Amen!”
After the Opening Prayer, Before the First Reading
The Liturgy of the Word is a blend of readings from Sacred Scripture, singing psalms and acclamations, the breaking open of the Word through the homily, the petitions, and the sharing of quiet moments before the Lord. The book we read from is called the Lectionary; it is the collection of readings selected from the New American Bible for use at liturgy. The First Reading we are about to hear is usually drawn from the Old Testament. It has been selected especially to enhance the focus of the Gospel reading of the day.
After the Silence, Before the Psalm
The psalms from the Old Testament were written as songs of praise and pain, of loneliness and thanksgiving. They were selected for the Lectionary as a direct response to the First Reading, giving us time to reflect upon the messages that the Word offers to our lives.
After the Psalm, Before the Second Reading
The Second Reading in the Liturgy of the Word is drawn from the letters of the New Testament, the book of the Acts of the Apostles, and from the book of Revelation. These readings are chosen, not to draw out the themes of the other readings, but to offer almost continuous reading from week to week of the chosen book.
After the Silence, Before the Gospel Acclamation
The word, “Alleluia,” from the Hebrew for “praise God” is found in the Bible often, especially in the Psalms. Unlike the psalm following the First Reading, the Alleluia is not a response. It is an acclamation, a joyful shout of readiness and anticipation looking forward to what is to come. During the dialogue before the Gospel, we do the three-fold gesture, the signing of a small cross on our forehead, on our lips, and over our hearts, expressing our desire that the Lord be present in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts. We stand for the Gospel and its acclamation as a sign of readiness and respect. And finally, the homily breaks open the Word of God for us – to open our minds to its meaning for our lives here and now.
After the Homily, Before the Creed
Our Profession of Faith is called the Nicene Creed because it was drawn from the articles of faith professed at the councils held Nicea, Italy in 325 A.D. and Constantinople in what is now Turkey in 381 A.D. With the implementation of the new translation, we will be given the option of using the Apostles Creed at the discretion of the priest. Though we will not use it yet, the new translation of the Nicene Creed is found on Page 4 of your song sheet.
After the Creed, Before the Petitions
The Prayers of the Faithful conclude the Liturgy of the Word. They are also called the petitions, Universal Prayer, or the General Intercessions. God’s Word has been heard and broken open for us; we have responded with the statements of our faith. Knowing that God is present at work in our lives, we have the courage to ask the Lord to answer our prayers. Our petitions bring together the needs we have as individuals, as members of this community of faith, and as members of the world community.
After the Prayers of the Faithful, before the Procession of the Gifts (The Priest is seated)
There are four processions in the Mass. The first, we have experienced in the Entrance Procession. Later in this Mass, we will process to the banquet table of the Altar to share in Holy Communion, and the final procession will lead us out again to begin the work of Christ in the world for another week.
As we prepare to be nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, we make ready the gifts of bread and wine to be brought up in procession along with our monetary collection. Our collection makes it possible for you to support the activities and ministry of this community and the larger Church in the world.
After the Gifts have been brought forward (Speak over the instrumental music)
After the bread and wine have been brought to the altar, the priest prays over the bread quietly. Before he prays over the wine, he adds a little water to the chalice symbolizing that the water, representing our humanity is absorbed into the wine, Christ’s divinity. Song usually accompanies this ritual time. Today we are going to invite you to share the dialogue leading to the Prayer Over the Gifts.
After the Prayer Over the Gifts, Before the Preface
The prayers of consecration have their roots in the table prayers of the Jewish people, the kind of prayer said by Jesus at the Last Supper. Note the small changes to the dialogue following the Prayer Over the Gifts. Each Eucharistic Prayer begins with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving called the Preface, designed to fit the themes of the day or the assigned Feast Day. The assembly joins with the singing of the “Holy.” This acclamation is taken from the greetings of the people of Jerusalem as Jesus rode into the city to shouts of “Hosanna in the highest.”
After the Holy, Holy
The Eucharistic Prayer is addressed to God the Father, recalling with thanks what God has done and continues to do in our lives and in the world. The Holy Spirit is invoked to call upon the power of God. The re-telling of the story, the narrative of the Last Supper, is included as we do as Jesus told us to “Do this in memory of me.” The new texts of Memorial Acclamations are included in your program.
After the Memorial Acclamation Is sung
The prayer continues with the Memorial of the Passion and the mystery of Christ, a prayer that our offering be received, and intercession for the Church, and for all people, both living and deceased. Our Eucharistic Prayer concludes with the Doxology, the summary of the entire prayer. Our response of “Amen,” the Hebrew word meaning “so be it,” gives our assent and acclaim to the whole prayer.
After the Amen, Before the Lord’s Prayer
We express our life of faith in one of the earliest prayers of the church given to us by Jesus when his disciples asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” In the prayer, we ask God “to give us our daily bread,” knowing that Jesus is our Bread of Life.
After the Lord’s Prayer, Before the Sign of Peace
Very shortly, we will be coming forward to receive Holy Communion. As the source of our reconciliation and union with God and with one another, we are asked to make a gesture of unity and forgiveness with those around us in our Sign of Peace.
After the Sign of Peace, Before the Lamb of God
The breaking of the bread was the early name for our liturgy. The Gospel of Luke speaks of the disciples recognizing the risen Lord in the breaking of the bread. While the bread is broken, the “Lamb of God” litany is prayed by all the people. This litany is drawn from the joyous shout of John the Baptist on seeing the Lord at the river Jordan.
After the Singing of the Lamb of God
Another action of the priest at this time is to take a small portion of the host and mix it into the wine. This custom dates back to the 7th century signifying the unity of Christ’s body and blood. The prayer we are about to say, “Lord, I am not worthy…” comes from three places in scripture. The Gospel of John says, “Look, there is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Revelation has “Happy are they who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” In Matthew, we hear the Roman centurion proclaim his faith in Jesus, saying, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” You will see these scripture passages reflected in the new wording of the people’s prayer we begin using next week in your song sheet today.
After the priest has received Communion, while the EMEs receive Communion
“Our blessing cup is a communion in the blood of Christ.” The bread we share and the cup we drink unite us with Christ and one another. By this action, we celebrate our unity in our One Lord. St. Augustinereminds us: “Become what you receive: the Body of Christ, given for the world.”
After the Prayer After Communion, Before the Final Blessing
Our concluding rites of the Mass are few. We are blessed and dismissed; in Latin, “Ite, missa est,” meaning “Go, it is finished,” is the phrase from which the word “Mass” has been derived. Our worship sends us out into the world to live out what we have expressed in this celebration. Jesus bids us to share his peace with the world. We go forth singing his praises, renewed by the Word and the Meal. We now go forth to carry His presence into the world.