St John's Q&A

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

"Parts of the Mass" - I

The following is part 1 (of 3) of “the parts of the Mass”, as explained in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (the official rules and details of the Latin Rite Mass), and abbreviated for purposes of this site. Please click on the orange arrow next to the title of this post for the full text.
I. The General Structure of the Mass

27. At Mass—that is, the Lord's Supper—the People of God is called together, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord, the Eucharistic Sacrifice. For this reason Christ's promise applies in an outstanding way to such a local gathering of the holy Church: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst" (Mt 18:20). For in the celebration of Mass, in which the Sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated, Christ is really present in the very liturgical assembly gathered in his name, in the person of the minister, in his word, and indeed substantially and continuously under the eucharistic species.

28. The Mass is made up, as it were, of two parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. These, however, are so closely interconnected that they form but one single act of worship. For in the Mass the table both of God's word and of Christ's Body is prepared, from which the faithful may be instructed and refreshed. There are also certain rites that open and conclude the celebration.

III. The Individual Parts of the Mass

The Entrance
47. After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.

Greeting of the Altar and of the People Gathered Together
49. When they reach the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the ministers reverence the altar with a profound bow. As an expression of veneration, moreover, the priest and deacon then kiss the altar itself; as the occasion suggests, the priest also incenses the cross and the altar.

50. When the Entrance chant is concluded, the priest stands at the chair and, together with the whole gathering, makes the Sign of the Cross. Then he signifies the presence of the Lord to the community gathered there by means of the Greeting. By this Greeting and the people's response, the mystery of the Church gathered together is made manifest.

The Act of Penitence
51. Then the priest invites those present to take part in the Act of Penitence, which, after a brief pause for silence, the entire community carries out through a formula of general confession. The rite concludes with the priest's absolution, which, however, lacks the efficacy of the Sacrament of Penance.

The Kyrie Eleison
52. After the Act of Penitence, the Kyrie is always begun, unless it has already been included as part of the Act of Penitence. Since it is a chant by which the faithful acclaim the Lord and implore his mercy, it is ordinarily done by all, that is, by the people and with the choir or cantor having a part in it.

The Gloria
53. The Gloria is a very ancient and venerable hymn in which the Church, gathered together in the Holy Spirit, glorifies and entreats God the Father and the Lamb. The text of this hymn may not be replaced by any other text. The Gloria is intoned by the priest or, if appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir; but it is sung either by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited either by all together or by two parts of the congregation responding one to the other. It is sung or said on Sundays outside the Seasons of Advent and Lent, on solemnities and feasts, and at special celebrations of a more solemn character.

The Collect
54. Next the priest invites the people to pray. All, together with the priest, observe a brief silence so that they may be conscious of the fact that they are in God's presence and may formulate their petitions mentally. Then the priest says the prayer which is customarily known as the Collect and through which the character of the celebration is expressed. In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, the collect prayer is usually addressed to God the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit, and is concluded with a trinitarian, that is to say the longer ending, in the following manner:

If the prayer is directed to the Father: Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum;

If it is directed to the Father, but the Son is mentioned at the end: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum;

If it is directed to the Son: Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. The people, uniting themselves to this entreaty, make the prayer their own with the acclamation Amen. There is always only one collect used in a Mass.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Is Mass real?

I always enjoy talking with Catholic youth groups about the Mass. I might start out asking them for their honest reactions to attending Mass. Most common are "Mass is so boring"..."it is the same thing every time"..."it is so long"..."I can't relate to it at all". Or, I might ask them how much time they spend watching TV or movies each week. The typical teenage group will admit to spending at least 10 hours there (although it's probably much more than that). I will ask them if TV or movies are real, for the most part. "No". Then, I ask them how much time they spend with God every week. "One Mass". 'So... is Mass real??'.

If they are like me when I was growing up, they are thinking that the Mass isn't real. They are thinking, like so many adult Catholics, that the Eucharist isn't real... it's just a symbol... it only represents the Body of Christ. So, I will say what a priest said to me when I was 21 that changed my life: "'this is my body' means 'this is my body'". When I first heard this, I couldn't believe it; I had never stopped to consider the words that were 'the same every time'.

I started going to daily Mass to listen to the words the priest said. Next thing I knew, I was picturing Jesus on the Cross...for me. "This is the cup of my blood... It will be shed for you and for all so that sins might be forgiven." Because my sins at the time were especially great, it hit me very hard. Jesus died for me. For my sins. So that I can go to Heaven. God became very real to me in the Mass.

Like all of us who are present at Mass, I became a witness to Mount Calvary every day at 12:00. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a re-presentation of Jesus's sacrifice on the Cross. The same flesh and blood that were on the Cross become truly present on the altar. Jesus tells us this is true when he says, "The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world... My flesh is true food. My blood is true drink" (John 6: 51, 55).

So, my final question to the kids is: 'where does the Eucharist go during Holy Communion?' "In us". Yes, if we are ready (i.e., a Catholic or Orthodox in a state of Grace) to receive Him. Jesus comes inside of us in Holy Communion! We are one with God. Can any movie do that? Jesus says that in the Eucharist, we have Heaven dwelling within us. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life" (John 6:54). No TV show can compete with that. The Mass is Heaven on Earth. The most incredible event in the world. Amazing! Awesome! Anything but boring.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

"Why do you want to be a priest?"

Hello and welcome! ALL are invited to leave questions or comments about the Catholic faith. To post a comment, click on "comments" at the bottom of this post. Then, click on "post a comment"; you can write your comment in the box that comes up, and then either post it anonymously or leave your name (by opening a free blogger account). Please don't be afraid to interact; your question or comment could really help someone else out!
I've been asked many times, "why do you want to be a priest?" My initial answer usually is, "because Jesus wants me to be a priest". All vocations come from the Lord Jesus; he calls each of us by name to one of the three vocations - religious, married, or single. Our job is to figure out to which one he is calling us; I have found that it is one of the hardest things in life to know God's will.

Now, the call may be there, but will I respond? So, that gets back to the main question. The answer of why I want to be a priest and respond to Christ's call was largely visible on the playground of St John's last week. No, it's not just about 'dominating' in kickball (I'm getting a lot of mileage out of that line!). It's about love and service. I am in love with Christ and with His people, especially His youth. With the Lord's help, I am giving my life for them. I want to spend my whole life with them. Not just to play ball with them, but to serve them. To serve Him.

Celibacy gives me the freedom to serve 24/7. It allows me to spend as much time with the schoolkids as possible (until I get into trouble with the teachers or principal). To talk with them about Jesus and have fun with them. To sit down with people and listen to their struggles in life. To visit with the sick. To pray each morning and night in the Presence of the Lord for people in the parish. To spread the Gospel. To talk to young men and women about entering religious life. To lead people to reconciliation with God and neighbor. To answer people's questions about the Church. In short, to bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus.

Jesus says the greatest love is to lay down one's life for one's friends (see John 15:13). Celibates are not the only ones who do this; I personally think that married persons make more sacrifices than priests. As someone who is looking to promise celibacy this December, I want to imitate Christ (for He was a celibate man who gave himself fully to all). I want to love as God loves; that is, love everyone the same. While it is a great sacrifice, it is an even greater treasure (see Mark 10:28-31). It is an amazing gift to serve the people of God, young and old, full-time. Please pray for me, that God is calling me to this awesome life!
Please leave any questions or comments.

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