Praying with Mind, Heart, and Body
In the celebration of Mass we raise our hearts and minds to God. We are creatures of body as well as spirit, so our prayer is not confined to our minds and hearts. It is expressed by our bodies as well. When our bodies are engaged in our prayer, we pray with our whole person. Using our entire being in prayer helps us to pray with greater attentiveness.
During Mass we assume different postures- standing, kneeling, sitting-and we are also invited to make n variety of gestures. These postures and gestures are not merely ceremonial. They have pro found meaning and, when done with understand ing, can enhance our participation in the Mass.
Standing is a sign of respect and honor, so we stand as the celebrant who represents Christ enters find leaves the assembly. From the earliest days of the Church, this posture has been understood as the stance o£ those who have risen with Christ and seek the things that are above. When we stand for prayer, we assume our full stature before God, not in pride but in humble grati tude for the marvelous things God has done in creat ing and redeeming each one of us. By Baptism we have been given a share in the life of God, and the posture of standing is an acknowledgment of this wonderful gift. We stand for the proclamation of the Gospel, which recounts the words and deeds of the Lord. "The bishops of the United States have chosen standing as the posture to be observed for the reception of Communion.
In the early Church, kneeling signified penance. So thor oughly was kneeling identified with penance that the early Christians were forbidden to kneel on Sundays and during the Easter season, when the prevailing spirit of the Liturgy was one of joy and thanksgiving. In the Middle Ages kneeling came to signify homage, and more recently this posture has come to signify adoration, especially before the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is for this reason that the bishops of this country have chosen the posture of kneeling for the entire Eucharistic Prayer.
Sitting is the posture of listening and meditation, so the congregation sits for the pre-Gospel readings and the homily and may also sit for the period of meditation fol lowing Communion. All should strive to assume a seated posture during the Mass that is attentive rather than merely at rest.
Every procession in the Liturgy is a sign of the pilgrim Church, the body of those who believe in Christ on their way to the Heavenly Jerusalem. The Mass begins with the procession of the priest and ministers to the altar. The Book of the Gospels is carried in procession to the ambo. The gifts of bread and wine are brought forward to the altar. Members of the assembly come forward in procession-eagerly, attentively, and devoutly-to receive Holy Communion. We who believe in Christ are moving in time toward that moment when we will leave this world and enter into the joy of the Lord in the eternal Kingdom he has prepared for us.
MAKING THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
We begin and end Mass by marking ourselves with the Sign of the Cross. Because it was by his death on the Cross that Christ redeemed humankind, we trace the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads, lips, and hearts at the beginning of the Gospel, praying that the Word of God may be always in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts. The cross reminds us in a physical way of the Paschal Mystery we celebrate: the death and Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Bowing signifies reverence, respect, and gratitude. In the Creed we bow at the words that commemorate the Incarnation. We also bow as a sign of reverence before we receive Communion. The priest and other ministers bow to the altar, a symbol of Christ, when entering or leaving the sanctuary. As a sign of respect and reverence even in our speech, we bow our heads at the name of Jesus, at the mention of the Three Persons of the Trinity, at the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and at the name of the saint whose particular feast or memorial is being observed (see GIRM, no. 275). GENUFLECTING
As a sign of adoration, we genuflect by bringing our right knee to the floor. Many people also make the Sign of the Cross as they bend their knee. Traditionally, Catholics genuflect on entering and leaving church if the Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary of the Church. The priest and deacon genuflect to the tabernacle on entering and leaving the sanctuary. The priest also genuflects in adoration after he shows the Body and Blood of Christ to the people after the consecration and again before inviting the people to Holy Communion.
The priest frequently uses this ancient prayer posture, extending his hands to his sides, slightly elevated. orans means "praying." Early Christian art frequently depicts the saints and others standing in this posture, offering their prayers and surrendering themselves, with hands uplifted to the Lord, in a gesture that echoes Christ's outstretched arms as he offered himself on the Cross.
In this rarely used posture, an individual lays full-length on the floor, face to the ground. A posture of deep humil ity, it signifies our willingness to share in Christ's death so as to share in his Resurrection (see Rom 6). It is used at the beginning of the Celebration of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday and also during the Litany of the Saints in the Rite of Ordination, when those to be ordained dea cons, priests, and bishops prostrate themselves in humble prayer arid submission to Christ.
"By its very nature song has both an individual and a communal dimension. Thus, it is no wonder that sing ing together in church expresses so well the sacramental presence of God to his people" (United States Confer ence of Catholic Bishops, Sing to the Lord, no. 2). As we raise our voices as one in the prayers, dialogues, and chants of the Mass, most especially in the Eucharistic Prayer, as well as the other hymns and songs, we each lend our individual voices to the great hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Triune God,
PRAYING IN UNISON
In the Mass, the worshiping assembly prays in one voice, speaking or singing together the words of the prayers. By saying the same words at the same time, we act as what we truly are-one Body united in Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism.
"Silence in the Liturgy allows the community to reflect on what it has heard and experienced, and to open its heart to the mystery celebrated" (Sing to the Lord no. 118). We gather in silence, taking time to separate ourselves from the concerns of the world and enter into the sacred union. We reflect on the readings in silence. We may take time for silent reflection and prayer after Holy Communion. These times of silence are not merely times when nothing happens; rather, they are opportunities for us to enter more deeply in what God is doing in the Mass, and, like Mary, to keep "all these things, reflect ing on them" in our hearts (Lk 2:19).
The Church sees in these common postures and ges tures both a symbol of the unity of those who have come together to worship and also a means of fostering that unity. We are not free to change these postures to suit our own individual piety, for the Church makes it clear that our unity of posture and gesture is an expres sion of our participation in the one Body formed by the baptized with Christ, our head. When we stand, kneel, sit, bow, and sign ourselves in common action, we give unambiguous witness that we are indeed thc Body of Christ, united in body, mind, and voice.2nd Liturgy Insert for the Website
The Parts of the Mass
The Individual parts of the Mass in general.
I. Introductory Rites
- Entrance Song
- Penitential Rite (Rite of Sprinkling)
- Opening Prayer
II. Liturgy of the Word
- First Reading
- Responsorial Psalm
- Second Reading
- Alleluia (Gospel Acclamation)
- Profession of Faith
- General Intercessions
III. Liturgy of the Eucharist
- Preparation of the Altar and the Gifts (He took...)
The Altar is "dressed"
The Gifts are brought forward
The Gifts are presented to the Altar
The Washing of Hands
Prayer over the Gifts
- Eucharistic Prayer (He blessed...)
Preface & Acclamation
Great Amen (Doxology)
- Communion Rite
Sign of Peace
Breaking of the Bread (He broke...)
Communion (He gave...)
Period of Silence or Song of Praise
Prayer after Communion
IV. Concluding Rite
How do all the pieces fit together? In detail.
I. Introductory Rites
Entrance Song - Its purpose is to begin to turn us into a community by blending our voices in song. Psychologically, this seems to have a stronger effect than speaking
The Sign of the Cross - reminds us that it is in God's name that we gather, reminds us that this gathering has its origin in the dying and rising of Jesus Christ and in our baptism.
The Greeting - reminds us of the indwelling of the Trinity and/or of the Mystical Body to which we belong and that this is the source of our unity or oneness.
Penitential Rite/ Rite of Sprinkling - the first reminds us of the unity of our sinfulness and the unity of our need for God's saving grace; the other reminds us of the baptism that we share.
Kyrie - reminds us that only one is Lord who is the source of all salvation. We are united by our need of salvation which comes from the Lord Jesus.
Gloria - It is a song of praise for what God has done for us but its use is determined by the season. Thus its purpose would seem to be to move us out of our penitential mode when used.
Opening Prayer - this prayer has an individual component and a communal component. The pause at the beginning is meant to make this prayer our uniquely own prayer; the "stylized" prayer itself is one that comes from the community now formed.
II. Liturgy of the Word
First Reading - God speaks to us through the OT. The selection is chosen to fit with the theme of the Gospel. (During Easter time the Church chooses to listen to God's word as presented in the Acts of the Apostles. During this time less connection is made with the Gospel and more attention is paid to a "continuous reading".)
Responsorial Psalm - It is a psalm or canticle usually taken from the OT. It should preferably be sung. It is usually done in antiphonal style. It is meant to be a response from the community to the Word of God that was just read.
Second Reading - This is always taken from the non-Gospel parts of the NT. It follows "its own drummer" in that it is not chosen with reference to the Gospel. It is another instance in which God speaks to his people.
Alleluia (Gospel Acclamation) - It comes from the Hebrew and means "give praise!" It is an expression of praise in anticipation of the proclamation of the Gospel. It is sung or not said at all. It is meant to accompany the journey of Gospel Book(Jesus).
Gospel - This reading is given special place of honor for it is intimately associated with Jesus Christ, the Word of God. This honor is indicated by a procession, a special book, a sung acclamation, the gesture of standing, special marks of respect, and a restricted reader.
Homily - This is not primarily a teaching. It is meant to help the community relate the mighty deeds of God in the past to the "mighty deeds" of God in the present. In do this it is meant to rouse in us the desire to give thanks and praise to God.
Profession of Faith - This is the community's response in word to what God has told us.
General Intercessions - This is another of the community's responses to what God has told us. These are meant to be expressions of need recognizing God's power and willingness to help the community. They are not meant to be expressions of thanks.
III. Liturgy of the Eucharist
Preparation of the Altar and the Gifts
Presentation of the Gifts (to the presider to the altar -> Christ)
Prayer over the Gifts
Preface & Acclamation
Body of the Prayer with the Eucharistic Acclamation & Amen
1) Its source is in the Jewish Berakak Prayer.
2) Every Eucharistic Prayer needs to have 4 or more parts
Asking God to continue his works(petition)
Summary hymn of praise(doxology)
(part of the thanksgiving was to recount the
marvelous interventions the Christian had experienced; asking for that in the future, praises God by acknowledging his power.)
He broke...He gave...
- Communion Rite
In the beginning there was breaking and distribution. The growing desire to express such dispositions as mutual love, unity, and forgiveness resulted in an expansion.
Our Father - This prayer was thought to be an ideal preparation for communion with its themes of bread, forgiveness, and mutual peace. "Deliver us from evil" is expanded in the prayer after the Our Father.
Sign of Peace - The aspects of peace in the Lord's Prayer is expanded with a gesture. For Innocent I the sign of peace "is a sign of the peoples' acquiescence in all that has been done in these mysteries."
Breaking of the Bread - Originally this was a practical step. Later it came to carry out the theme of unity -> many though we are, we are one body.
Lamb of God - Simply a litany to unite voices during the breaking of the Bread.
Commingling - The order of Mass gives no significance to this ritual. Some maintain that, in history, a practice arose of priests sending a piece of the consecrated bread back to the bishop. It may have been retained for ecumenical reasons. The Syrian Pope, Sergius, in the 8th century set it up in conjunction with the double elevation (which has been discontinued). Meaning: double elevation = death of Jesus; commingling = resurrection of Jesus.
Communion - Communion under both species.
Communion Song - This a song to assist the procession. What is the meaning of the procession ritual.
Period of Silence or Song of Praise - St. Alphonsus had the practice of 30 minutes.
Prayer after Communion - It is the final presidential prayer. Its purpose is to express in many different ways the effects of the eucharistic celebration.
IV. Concluding Rite (originally, there was no formal concluding rite; later the need for closure gave rise to one.)
- Greeting - It tells us something important is happening
- Blessing - Blessing a person is an action requesting that God continue to extend his generosity. In this case the generosity is measured in terms of the gifts of God's Word and Christ's Body and Blood.
- Dismissal - This is a command that tells us what we must do when we leave.3rd Liturgy Insert for the Website
Scripture and the Mass
It is clear that Sacred Scripture has a revered and important place in the eucharistic Liturgy. Every Mass includes a Liturgy of the Word. The main elements of the Liturgy of the Word are biblical readings and the singing of a psalm. The Liturgy of the Word reaches its high point in the proclamation of the Gospel.
However, the use of Scripture in the Mass does not end when the Liturgy of the Word has finished. In fact, the words of Scripture flow throughout the prayers of the Mass. One of the goals of the new translation of the Missal was to make clearer the links between the prayers of the Mass and the text of Scripture. Some of the most noticeable changes reflect the words of the Bible more clearly. Let's take a look at some of these changes.
A BIBLICAL GREETING
At several points in the Mass, the priest or deacon and the people engage in the following dialogue:
Priest or Deacon; The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit. (The Order of Mass, 2)
The first words come from a greeting of Boaz, the great-grandfather of King David: "Boaz. . . said to the harvesters, "The Lord be with you!' and they replied, 'The Lord bless you!"' (Ru 2:4), The people's response reflects the language of St. Paul. In Galatians, he says, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen" (Gal 6:18); the Second Letter to Timo thy closes with a similar wish: "The Lord be with your spirit" (2 Tm 4:22). The Letter to the Philippians ends with "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Phil 4:23).
The new language, though a bit unfamiliar to our ears, more directly reflects the biblical understanding that, through Baptism, the Spirit of God dwells in us and unites us as one Body in Christ.
WELCOMING THE LORD
Immediately before coming forward to receive the Lord in Holy Communion, we welcome the Lord:
Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word
and my soul shall be healed. (The Order of Mass, 132)
This prayer quotes the words of the centurion who asked Jesus to cure his servant. He would not presume to ask Jesus to come to his home. He trusted in the authority of Jesus' healing word saying: "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed" (Mt 8:8; see Lk 7:6-7). This new phrasing reminds us that, in receiving Holy Communion, we are to emulate the centurion's humility and faith.
FOR THE MANY
One of the most notable changes will come in the words that the priest speaks in consecrating the wine as the Blood of Christ;
Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
for this is the chalice of my Blood,
the Blood of the new and eternal covenant,
which will be poured out for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins, (The Order of Mass, 90)
The newly translated text more closely reflects the scriptural accounts of the Last Supper: "Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgive ness of sins'" (Mt 26:27-28). Much attention has focused on a single change in this text: from "for all" to "for many." This change is unique to the English language. Other languages, including Spanish, French, and Ger man, have already been using language that more closely reflects Jesus' words at the Last Supper.
This new text does not mean that God's love is lim ited or that only some may be saved. Rather, it reflects the fact that human beings may choose to accept the grace of salvation and live their lives in the light of this grace.
If we recognize the biblical references that underlie the liturgical texts, we will have a fuller understand ing of their meaning. For example, Eucharistic Prayer I includes the following passage:
Be pleased to look upon these offerings
with a serene and kindly countenance,
and to accept them,
as you were pleased to accept
the gifts of your servant Abel the just.
the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,
and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek,
a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim. (The Order of Mass, 93)
If we do not know who Abel (Gn 4:4) and Melchizedek (Gn 14:18-20) are and if we do not understand the importance oi Abraham's sacrifice (Gn 15:7-21; 22:1-14), we will not fully appreciate the concept, of sacrifice and how our celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice ties us to our ancestors in the faith, from the very beginning.
THE WORD OF GOD IN SCRIPTURE AND THE EUCHARIST
Translating the liturgical texts with a close eye to their correspondence with the texts of Scripture can help us to develop a greater appreciation of the close links between the prayers of the Mass and Sacred Scripture. These close links can help draw us more deeply into the theological meaning of the texts.
For example, before the Communion Rite, the priest breaks the Host and shows it to the people, saying:
Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
(The Order of Mass, 132)
The first part of this prayer echoes the words of John the Baptist, heralding the coming of the Christ: "The next day he [John] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world"' (Jn 1:29). In the same way, we who are united in the Body of Christ in the Sacrament of Baptism and strengthened in the Eucharist are called to point others to Jesus through our words and actions.
The second part of this prayer reflects the words of the Book of Revelation: "Then the angel said to me: 'Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb"' (Rev 19:9). In this prayer. we are not rejoicing that we may receive the Eucharist. Instead, we rejoice for those who have been found worthy to share in the heavenly Liturgy, the supper of the Lamb, and we pray that one day, we may join them in the ever lasting life of the Kingdom of God.
By delving more deeply into the scriptural background of the Mass, we come to know more closely Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, whose Paschal Mystery we celebrate.4th Liturgy Insert for the Website
Some New Words for Us?
Some of the words used in the new translation of the Mass may he unfamiliar to some Catho lics. The following list of definitions may help to increase your understanding of the rich theology that underlies these texts.
Abasement: The lowering of one of higher rank. Jesus abased himself in this, though he was God, he lowered himself and became a human being so that he might save us from our sins (see Phil 2:6-11).
Adoption: In Baptism, the Holy Spirit transforms us into children of the Father, thereby making us his adopted sons and daughters in the likeness of his eternal Son (see Eph 1:3-6). In this way, the faithful are made "partakers in the divine nature (cf. 2 Pt 1:4) by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior" (Catechism of the Catholic Church |CCC], no. 1129). In the sacraments, we become the sons and daughters, of God by adoption through Christ Jesus.
Angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, thrones and dominions: Spiritual, personal, and immor tal creatures, with intelligence and free will, who glorify God and serve him as messengers of his saving plan. Tradi tionally, the choirs of angels have been divided into various ranks, including archangels, cherubim, seraphim, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers (see Col 1:16).
Chalice: From the Latin word "calix" meaning "cup" (see Ps 116:13; Mt 20:22; 1 Cor 10:16). The use of this term in the Liturgy points to the chalice's function as a particular kind of cup and indicates the uniqueness of what it contains, the very Blood of Christ.
Clemency: The loving kindness, compassion, or mercy that God shows to sinners.
Communion: Our fellowship and union with Jesus and other baptized Christians in the Church, which has its source and summit in the celebration of the Eucharist. By receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, we are united to him and one another as members of his Body.
Consecration: The dedication of a thing or person to divine service by a prayer or blessing. In the Mass, "con secration" also refers to the words spoken by the priest whereby the bread and wine are transformed into the risen Body and Blood of lesus.
Consubstantial: The belief, articulated in the Nicene Creed, about the relationship of the Father and the Son; that "in the Father and with the Father, the Son is one and the same God" (CCC, no. 262).
Contrite: To be repentant within one's heart and mind for sins committed and to resolve not to sin again.
Covenant: A solemn agreement between human beings, between God and a human being, or between God and a people involving mutual commitments or promises. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with the Jewish people. Jesus, through his death and Resurrection, made a new covenant with the whole of humanity. One enters into this new covenant through Faith and Baptism.
Damnation: Eternal separation from God's love caused by dying in mortal sin without repentance.
Godhead: The mystery of one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Homage: The honor, respect, and reverence due to another. Homage is especially due to God, for he is eter nal, all good, all holy, and all loving.
Implore: To plead, beseech, or ask with humility. This is an example of the self-deprecatory language in the Roman Missal that helps to express our dependence on God. We humbly beg the Father to hear and answer our prayers, for we ask them in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus.
Incarnation: The Son of God assumed human nature and became man by being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Jesus is true God and true man. As man, the Son of God obtained our salvation. "The use of this term in the Nicene Creed indicates that Jesus' birth has a significance beyond that of any other human birth.
Ineffable: That which cannot be conceived or expressed fully (see 1 Cor 2:6-9). One cannot for example, adequately describe in concepts and words the mystery of the Trinity or the mystery of the Incarnation.
Infusion: The Holy Spirit is poured into the hearts and souls of believers, and so they are filled, or infused, with grace.
Intercessor: One who makes a petition on behalf of others. Our unique intercessor is Jesus Christ, who inter cedes on our behalf with the Father (see Rom 8:34). The priest at Mass acting in the person of Christ intercedes on behalf of the whole Church,
Justification: The gracious action by which God frees us from sin and makes us holy and righteous before him.
Lord, God of Hosts: From the word "sabaoth," hosts are the invisible powers that work at God's command over heaven and earth,
Mediator: One who unites or reconciles separate or opposing parties, Thus, Jesus Christ is the "one mediator between God and the human race" (1 Tin 2:5). Through his sacrificial offering he has become high priest and unique mediator who has gained for us access to the Father through the Holy Spirit.
Merit: The reward that God promises and gives to those who love him and who by his grace perform good works. One cannot earn justification or eternal life; they are the free gifts of God. Rather our merit is from God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. The Father freely justifies us in Christ through the indwelling of the Spirit; and Chris tians, by the same Holy Spirit, are empowered to do good works of love and justice. In cooperating with the Holy Spirit, the faithful receive further grace and thus, in Christ, cooperate in the work of their salvation.
Oblation: A gift or sacrifice offered to God.
Only-Begotten Son: This title "signifies the unique and carnal relationship of Jesus Christ to God his Father: he is the only Son of the Father (cf. Jn 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18); he is God himself (cf. Jn 1:1)" (CCC, no. 454), Jesus is the Son of God not by adoption but by nature.
Paschal: Referring to Christ's work of redemption accom plished through his Passion, death, Resurrection, and Ascension. Through the Paschal Mystery, Jesus destroyed our death and restored us to life. The Paschal Mystery is celebrated and made present in the Liturgy so that we can obtain the fruit of Jesus' death and Resurrection, that is, the forgiveness of our sins and the new life of the Holy Spirit.
Patriarchs: Title given to the venerable ancestors or "fathers" of the Semitic peoples, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who received God's promise of election.
Precursor: One who comes before as a herald. John the Baptist is the precursor of Jesus,
Provident grace: The free and undeserved gift that God gives us as he protects and governs all creation.
Redemption: Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer because he frees us from our sin through his sacrificial death on the Cross.
Temporal: What pertains to this world of time and his tory, as opposed to what pertains to God, such as our new life in Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Venerate: To show devotion and respect to holy things and people. Catholics venerate relics and saints. Veneration must be clearly distinguished from adoration and worship, both of which pertain solely to the Trinity and Jesus as the Son of God.