There are two main parts of the mass. The Liturgy of the Word & the Liturgy of the Eucharist
The Liturgy of the Word is the first half of the mass. Instantly the mass is a participation of the priest and the congregation. This can be seen and heard from the responses from the people, the choir and congregation singing and the alter servers helping the priest with the celebration.
The major parts of the first half of the mass in order are:
- Act of Contrition – The confession where we state the “I Confess”.
- Asking for Mercy - Lord have Mercy, Christ have Mercy…
- Celebrate God’s Glory – The Gloria
- (AT this Point we are mentally and spiritually prepared to hear Gods word)
- Opening Prayer
- The Readings – from the Bible, a reading from the Old Testament, then Psalms and then the New Testament (Non-Gospel), sometimes in the year Acts or Revelations are the first reading
- The Gospel Reading (Book of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) – The Gospel can only be read by a Priest or Deacon.
- Homily – The Sermon where the Priest or Deacon discuss the readings of the day and how and what to learn from those readings.
- Profession of Faith – Nicene Creed
The Liturgy of the Eucharist is the second half mass. There is a definite change in direction at this point. The Liturgy of the Eucharist begins with the bread and wine being brought to the alter.
- The Offering to God – The bread and wine brought to the alter as well as our financial gift to the church
- The Preparation - The Gifts are prepared by the Priest
- Beginning of the Consecration – Holy,Holy,Holy is sung
- Consecration Process – The Priest repeats the words of the last supper as they become the Body and Blood of Christ
- Consecration Process – The Congregation proclaims the Mystery of Faith – Jesus’ dying, rising and coming again.
- The Consecration of the Eucharist to Body and Blood occurs
- Pray – The Lord’s Prayer
- Sign of Peace – it is the sign of forgiveness and unity among all celebrating the mass. Everyone is equal in the presence of Jesus. Jesus is present in the Eucharist.
- Greet Christ by saying the Lamb of God
- Receive the Eucharist
- Final blessing
- Closing – the priest goes to the altar and kisses it as an act of reverence to Christ and exits the Church
In 1570, the Council of Trent issued instructions for a universal format for the celebration of Mass. The rules were published in what became known as General Instructions of The Roman Missal and lasted centuries until changed by a decree of Vatican II and approved by Pope Paul VI in 1969. The “new Roman Missal” was revised in 1975, a new edition published in 2002 and approved by Pope John Paul II. In 2003 this edition was printed in English, approved by Rome and the US Council of Catholic Bishops who left some options to local bishops.
If you want to learn more about the mass, we highly recommend
The How-To Book on the Mass by Michael Dubruiel.
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