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M.V.C.
02 Jun, 21

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Parts of the Catholic Mass explained

As Christians, when we consciously and actively live all parts of a Mass, we relive Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Pope Francis points out that through the Mass we Christians receive God's love and mercy, and we open ourselves to a new life thanks to the Resurrection.

Participation in Holy Mass should be "full, conscious and active".
Second Vatican Council, Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, nn. 14 and 48.

 

The root and center of our spiritual life is the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, one of the most important parts of the Mass. Saint Josemaría Escriváboth in words and in writing, he stated that the Eucharist is the center and root of the Christian's life.

Why is it important to explain the parts of the Catholic Mass?

In the Holy Mass we live the sacrifice of Christ, who offered himself to us all, once and for all, on the Cross. This, which is the center of our Christian life and the thanksgiving we present to God for his great love for us, is not another sacrifice, it is not a repetition. It is the same sacrifice of Jesus made present.

Broadly speaking, the Christian Mass has two fundamental parts:

  1. Liturgy of the Word
  2. The Eucharistic Liturgy

To dispose, live and give thanks for the Mass.

To know how to take advantage of the great spiritual fruits that are given to us as Christians through the Celebration of the Holy Mass, it is necessary to know this celebration, understanding its gestures and symbols, participating in it with reverence. 
Living the Christian faith in a concrete manner implies that there are moments of family prayerWe had moments of living the sacraments together, especially at Sunday Mass.

1 Initial rites

We preferably arrive punctually at the church and get ready to celebrate the greatest mystery of our faith.

The introductory rites prepare us to listen to the word and celebrate the Eucharist:

  • Entrance Song
  • Kiss at the altar and Sign of the Cross
  • Penitential act
  • Gloria's Song
  • Collective prayer

Entrance song

We prepare to begin the first part of a mass with the entrance song. It is a song that unites us all because people from different places, cultures, ages come to the mass and we sing with one voice, as a family, that of God on earth, in communion with the whole Church.

The hymn highlights the festive character of the celebration. We join together to celebrate one of the greatest gifts that Jesus left us: the Eucharist.

Some attribute the incorporation of the entrance chant to Pope Celestine I (422-431). Although the exact date of the incorporation is unknown, it certainly already existed in the 5th century.

Kiss at the altar and Sign of the Cross

The priest enters, kisses the altar and greets all present by making the sign of the Cross. To begin in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is not only to mention the name of God, but to place ourselves in his presence.

This is a good time to ask the Lord to help us to live the Holy Mass with the same purity, humility and devotion with which the Blessed Virgin received Him.

(...)The priest is there, not in his own name, but in nomine Ecclesiæ, in the name of the Church. He represents, therefore, all the faithful, and in the name of all he gives the liturgical kiss to Christ, symbolized by the altar.This veneration of the altar is expressed by three signs:

  1. The bow that is a gesture becomes an act of homage to Christ, to the place of sacrifice and to the table of the Lord.
  2. The kiss at the altar is a kiss of greeting and love between the Church and the incensation.
  3. It is completed with the incensation that symbolizes honor, purification and sanctification.

Penitential act

Placed in the presence of God, the Church invites us to recognize with humility that we are sinners. We humbly ask the Lord for forgiveness for all our faults. We humbly acknowledge before all our brothers and sisters that we are sinners.

It is an important gesture to begin Holy Mass with a clean heart and soul. It is a good time to remember when our last confession was. As Christians we must go to this Sacrament to receive Jesus.

And to express this desire and to ask God's forgiveness, we use the words of the blind man who heard that Jesus was passing by, and knowing that he could not heal himself, but needed God's help, he began to cry out in the midst of the crowd: "Lord, have mercy on me". Thus, with confidence in God's mercy, we also pray "Lord have mercy".

Gloria's Song

We praise God, acknowledging His holiness, as well as our need for Him. The Gloria is like a shout of enthusiasm to God, to the whole Trinity.

On Sundays and solemnities we pray this hymn, which sums up the ultimate meaning of the Christian life: to give glory to God. Praise God, not only because He is good, or because He helps us, or for the things He gives us. Give glory to Him for who He is, because He is God. It helps us to be well oriented, to affirm that the ultimate meaning of our life is Him.

Prayer Collection

The Collect is so called because it is the prayer that gathers the petitions of all. We make them through Jesus Christ, the only Mediator, in the communion of the Holy Spirit, who gathers our petitions, making present once again the Mystery of the Trinity.

The priest invites the whole community to pray by presenting to God the Father the petitions that the Church raises to Heaven each time the Holy Sacrifice is celebrated.

parts of the catholic mass, second part of the mass liturgy of the word

"If two of you agree on earth to ask for something, you will get it from my Father who is in Heaven." Mt 18:19-20. It is important for every Christian to know and properly live each of the parts of the Catholic Mass: 

2 Liturgy of the Word

"The Mass consists of two parts: the liturgy of the Word and the Eucharistic liturgy, so closely linked together that they constitute a single act of worship."
Roman Missal, General Institution, 28

Through the readings, we will listen directly to God who speaks to us, who are his people. We respond by singing, meditating and praying.

In the first reading, God speaks to us through the experiences of his prophets, in the second reading through his apostles.

  • First reading from the Old Testament
  • Psalm
  • Second reading: In the New Testament.
  • Gospel: The singing of the Alleluia disposes us to listen to the proclamation of the mystery of Christ. At the end we acclaim saying: "Glory to you, Lord Jesus".
  • Homily: The priest explains the Word of God to us.
  • Creed: The profession of faith
  • Prayer of the Faithful: We pray for one another, asking for the needs of all.
  •  Washing

First reading: Old Testament, God speaks to men.

The first reading, generally taken from the Old Testament. God speaks to us through the history of the people of Israel and their prophets.

It is important to meditate on them, because through these words, God was preparing his people for the coming of Christ. And they also prepare us to listen to Jesus, since the first reading is directly related to the Gospel to be read.

Responsorial Psalm, response of the faithful to God's Word

The Responsorial Psalm is like an extension of the themes proposed in the first reading.

With the psalms we learn to pray, we learn to talk to God, using His very words, which became prayer. Words that He puts in our mouth so that we know how to express ourselves.

Second reading: In the New Testament, God speaks to us through the apostles.

We hear the preaching of the first men to whom Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Mt 28:19-20).

It is taken from the New Testament. It can be part of the Acts of the Apostles or the letters written by the first apostles. Also from the Catholic Epistles, the book of Hebrews or Revelation. In other words, they are the writings of the apostles,

This second reading helps us to know how the first Christians lived and how they explained the teachings of Jesus to others. This helps us to know and understand better what Jesus taught us.

After the second reading, the Alleluia is sung, which is a joyful song that recalls the Resurrection or another song according to the requirements of the liturgical season.

Gospel, The proclamation of the Gospel

The singing of the Alleluia disposes us to listen to the proclamation of the mystery of Christ. At the end we acclaim saying: "Glory to you, Lord Jesus".

It is Jesus Christ himself who speaks to us in the Gospel. That is why we listen to him standing up, and the priest kisses him when he has finished proclaiming it. Then he announces aloud that Jesus Christ is among us: Dominus vobiscum!

The gestures made by the priest symbolize our desire to be part of the Truth of the Gospel. The teachings of the Lord are communicated to us so that we may meditate on them in our personal intimacy and incorporate them into our souls, so that we may then communicate them in the form of word and deed. works of mercy to the people around us in our daily lives.

It is a call to the apostolic responsibility of Christians, which in the Holy Mass takes on new strength.

Homily: The priest explains the Word of God to us.

The priest takes time to explain the Word of God to us. Homily comes from a Greek word meaning "dialogue", "conversation". It is the moment when God speaks to us through his Church.

It is a simple and practical explanation, rooted in the liturgical texts, which we will apply to our Christian life. We try to make the advice given to us our own and we try to draw out concrete resolutions. A good homily is one that makes you reflect from within.

Creed: After listening to the Word of God we profess our faith

"We are one people confessing one faith, one Creed; one people gathered in the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" (St. Leo the Great, Homily I on the Nativity of the Lord (PL 54, 192).

To pray the Creed is a source of holy pride for every Christian, to be amazed by the reality of being the People of God, the Body of Christ, the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer of the Faithful: We pray for one another, asking for the needs of all.

The prayer of the faithful ends the first part of the Mass. We pray for one another asking for the needs of all. Presentation of the offerings of bread and wine

In that Bread and Wine that the priest offers to God - the fruit of man's sweat and labor - are all your human efforts. Offer all that to God. Put all the hours and actions of your day on the paten next to Christ and thus you will supernaturalize your life.

Everything will be done for God and will be pleasing to God. Truly make your life an offering to the Lord. Let us not forget that, in raising these prayers, it is Christ himself who presents them to God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Washbasin

While the priest washes his hands, repeat inwardly the prayer that he makes inwardly: Lord, wash me completely from my guilt and purify me from my sin!

In the Mass, the Lord Jesus, making himself "bread broken" for love of us, gives himself to us and communicates to us all his mercy and love, renewing our hearts, our lives and our relationships with him and with our brothers and sisters. Pope Francis

3 Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The liturgy of the Eucharist is the most important moment of the Mass. We present the bread and wine that will be transformed into the body and blood of Christ. We take up the collection for the whole Church and pray over the offerings.

  • Preface and Presentation of the Offerings: The Bread and Wine
  • Epiclesis: Eucharistic Prayer
  • Santo: a song of praise to God.
  • Consecration: The bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus (Doxology).

Preface and Presentation of Offerings

In the Preface, we give thanks and praise to God, the thrice holy one, by praying a prayer. It comes from the Latin: pre - factum. It means "before the fact". It is so called because it comes just before the most important event of the whole Mass: the Eucharistic prayer.

In the preface there is a dialogue with the priest, who always says: "Let us lift up our hearts. We have lifted it up to the Lord. In the preface we have thanked God, we have acknowledged his works of love and we praise him.

At this time we present the offerings, the bread and wine. The simplicity of these foods reminds us of the child who brought Jesus his offerings, five loaves and two fish. It was all he had, but that smallness, placed in the hands of Jesus, became abundance and was enough to feed a huge crowd and even left over.

Thus our simple offerings of bread and wine, placed in the Lord's hands, will also become in abundance, the Body and Blood of Christ to feed a great multitude that hungers for God.

At every Mass, we are that multitude! Along with this bread and wine, we also present to God, in a symbolic way, something of ourselves.

We offer Him our efforts, sacrifices, joys and sorrows. We offer Him our fragility so that He may do great works with us.

This is the interior attitude to which the liturgy leads us, to raise our hearts to be ready for the most important moment: when Christ will be present with his Body and Blood.

The epiclesis or invocation to the Holy Spirit: Prayer

The Eucharistic prayer is all the prayers surrounding the moment of consecration. We invoke with a prayer to the Holy Spirit at this moment when "the Church asks the Father to send his Holy Spirit (...) upon the bread and wine, so that they may become, by his power, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1353).

Just as the Holy Spirit descended upon the Virgin Mary to conceive and make Jesus present in her womb, we now invoke the Holy Spirit to descend upon these gifts and also to make Christ present among us.

"We must raise our hearts to the Lord not only as a ritual response, but as an expression of what is happening in this heart that rises and draws others upward." Pope Benedict

Then, it is the moment in which the bread and wine are brought to the altar, two very simple foods, which the priest will offer to God so that Christ may make himself present in the Eucharist, also converting us, making us better, more like him.

Santo: a song of praise to God.

The lyrics are taken from the Holy Scriptures. The first part is a song that we have learned from the choir of angels that the prophet Isaiah heard singing to God at his throne. The thrice holy repeated reminds us of the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity.

The second part is the acclamation said to Jesus as he is riding a donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, hossana!"

They were happy to acclaim Jesus, the long-awaited king, who was entering their city. In the Mass we also acclaim Christ who is at the gates of making himself present to us. That is why we can say that the saint is a song of men and angels, who join together to praise God.

Consecration: The bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus (Doxology).

"The power of Christ's words and action and the gifts of the Holy Spirit make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine his Body and Blood, his sacrifice offered on the Cross once and for all." Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1353.

We have arrived at the heart of the Eucharistic prayer, at the most important moment of the Mass. Following the command Jesus gave to his apostles: "Do this in memory of me," the priest, acting in the very person of Christ, pronounces the words of institution of the Eucharist, the same words Jesus pronounced on the day of the Last Supper.

(...) What depth the words treasure: this is my Body; this is the cup of my Blood! They fill us with certainty, strengthen our faith, assure our hope and enrich our charity. Yes: Christ lives, he is the same as he was two thousand years ago, and he will always live, intervening in our pilgrimage. Once again he approaches us as a wayfarer with us, just as he did at Emmaus, to sustain us and support us in all our endeavors.

The real presence of Jesus is a consequence of the ineffable mystery that is accomplished with the transubstantiation, before which there is no other attitude than to adore the omnipotence and love of God. This is why we kneel at this sublime moment, which constitutes the core of the Eucharistic celebration. In these moments, the priest is an instrument of the Lord, acting in persona Christi.

parts of the catholic mass, second part of the mass liturgy of the eucharist

One of the most important parts of the Mass is the moment of Consecration.

4 Concluding rite

Holy Mass ends as we began it, with the sign of the cross. We can go in peace, because we have seen God, we have met Him and we are renewed to continue in the mission that God has entrusted to us. At the end of the mass the priest gives us the final blessing.

The rites that conclude the celebration are:

  • Fine Blessing
  • Thanksgiving and farewell

Final Blessing

We received the priest's blessing. May that "you may go in peace" be the reflection of a Holy Mass well lived.

The word blessing comes from two words: good and say. When God says good about us, his Word does make us different, it gives us that grace to fight the good fight of faith. Thus the Mass ends and we are ready to move on with our Christian life.

Thanksgiving last part of the Mass

When the time dedicated to the thanksgiving within the Mass is too short, it can be a good action to prolong the thanksgiving for a few more minutes, in a personal way, at the end of all the parts of the Mass.

 

Bibliography:

OpusDei.org
Missal
"The Mass. To prepare, live and give thanks for the Mass." Cobel Editions
"Living the Holy Mass". Studium Foundation

 

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