Eucharist (Holy Mass) Part 8

THE PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL: Prayer of the faithful is the most ancient parts of the Mass. When Peter was imprisoned by Herod, the church in Jerusalem offered up “earnest prayer for him” and that night an angel came to release him from his chains. (Acts 12:1-7)

When St Paul gave instructions to his disciple Timothy, he told him to intercede for all people: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good and it is acceptable in the sight of God our savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1Tm 2:1-4) Paul himself prayed constantly for the needs of his communities (1Thess 1:2-3) and pleaded with them to pray for his ministry (2Cor 1:11). With this strong call for intercessory prayer in the New Testament, it is fitting that general intercessions formally found a home in the Mass from the earliest centuries of Christianity.

Eucharist (Holy Mass) Part 7

THE CREED: The creed summarizes the story of creation to Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection, to the sending of the Holy Spirit, to the era of the church and finally to the second coming of Christ. The creed recalls the entire story of salvation history so much so that “what the scripture says at length, the creed says briefly.”

The practice of prayerfully reciting the creed has deep biblical roots. Most ancient near eastern peoples believed there were many gods and each tribe or nation had its own set of deities whom they needed to appease and keep happy. In this perspective, religion was typically tribal, ethnic or national. It had been proclaimed not only that there was one God but that this one God was in a special covenant with Israel. In other words, Israel’s God was not merely one god among the many deities in the world, but the one, true God over all the nations. It proclaims that the universe is not here by random chance but was brought into existence by the one true God, “the maker of heaven and earth “ and is moving in a certain direction according to God’s plan. The creed also presumes that this divine plan was fully revealed in God’s son, the “one Lord Jesus Christ” who “became man” to show us the pathway to happiness and eternal life.

The creed also notes how Jesus came “For us men and for our salvation” and to bring “forgiveness of sins” . The creed reminds us that at the end of our lives we will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ who “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. According to Catholic Catechism, there are 2 aspects of belief. On the one hand, belief is something intellectual. It is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. We believe that there is one God …. On the other hand, even more fundamental to faith is its being “a personal adherence …to God” It also means a personal entrusting of one’s life to God.
“Of all things visible and invisible” more accurately reflects the language of St Paul who referred to the creation of all things “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. “ (C0l 1:16) Consubstantial with the Father means that the Son was of the same substance as the Father.

Eucharist (Holy Mass) Part 6.6

Homily: The homily explains the meaning of the Scriptural readings. The homily is crucial for the instruction of the faithful, so that they can understand the readings and apply it to their daily lives.

The homily is being given by an ordained minister. It is meant as a sign to guarantee that the preaching is passing on “the Church’s apostolic faith, tradition and not merely the private thoughts and experiences of an individual. “ Although God’s people as a whole are to give witness to the faith of the church, it is the particular responsibility of the bishop as a successor of the apostles to teach the apostolic faith. And his union with the pope and the other bishops throughout the world gives further visible, concrete witness to the apostolic faith.

Eucharist (Holy Mass) Part 6.5

The Proclamation of the Gospel : The gospel is the teaching of the Incarnate word, Jesus the Christ . The Liturgy shows special reverence to the reading of the Gospel. As we prepare to hear Jesus speak to us in the Gospel, it is fitting that we welcome him by standing, expressing our reverence and our readiness to listen to him.

The priest or deacon greets people saying “The Lord be with you “with reply from the people “and with your spirit”, the priest traces the sign of the cross on his forehead, mouth and breast and on the book. The people also make the 3 fold sign of the cross over themselves. This is a ritual by which we consecrate our thoughts, words and actions to the Lord, asking that his word in the Gospel be always on our minds, on our lips and in our heart. Then the Gospel is proclaimed . When the sacred scriptures are read in church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, proclaims the Gospel. Jesus speaks personally to each one of us through the divine inspired words in the Gospel. We hear Jesus Himself saying to us” Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. “

Eucharist (Holy Mass) Part 6.4

The acclamation Alleluia : Before the proclamation of the Gospel the people sing “Alleluia” which is a Hebrew expression of joy meaning “Praise the Lord” This was used by the angels in heaven to praise God for his work of salvation and to announce the coming of Christ to his people in the wedding supper of the Lamb. This joyful praise is a fitting way to welcome Jesus who will come to us in the Gospel.

During the Alleluia, the priest brings the Gospels from the altar to the reading stand, then, the priest quietly prays at the altar. “Cleanse my heart and my lips, almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim your holy Gospel. This prayer recalls how the prophet Isaiah’s lips needed to be purified before he proclaimed the word of the Lord of Israel. When an angel touched his mouth with a burning coal, Isaiah’s sin was forgiven and he was then called to begin his prophetic ministry. (See Is 6:1-9)

Eucharist (Holy Mass) Part 6.3

Second Reading :The second reading comes from the New Testament: one of the epistles (letters from either St Paul or St Peter or St John or St James), the Acts of the Apostles, or the book of Revelation. Though often selected independently of the first reading and the Gospel, these New Testament writings reflect on the mystery of Jesus Christ and his saving work and the meaning it has for our lives. They also draw out the practical applications of our life in Christ and exhort us ever more to “put on Christ” and turn away from short comings and limitations.

Eucharist (Holy Mass) Part 6.2

Responsorial Psalm :The book of psalms represents a collection of 150 sacred hymns used for private devotion and public worship in the Temple liturgy. In the Temple, the verses of the psalms would be sung by two alternating groups with a common refrain that was sung before and after the psalm itself. These heavenly shouts of praise and affirming replies express the awe filled joy of the angels and saints in the presence of God.

Eucharist (Holy Mass) Part 6.1

First Reading : is from the Old Testament (except during the Easter season when it is from the Acts of the Apostles). Although the Old Testament awaits the fullness of divine revelation in Jesus Christ, it is accepted by the Church with veneration as “authentic divine teaching.” In the Old Testament, “the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way.” One cannot understand Jesus and the New Testament Scriptures without knowing the story of Israel. The inclusion of the Old Testament in the Eucharistic celebration helps us to enter into that story of Israel and thus see the unity of the Bible more clearly.

At the end of the first reading, the lector says “The Word of the Lord.” This is like a trumpet call reminding us how marvellous it is for us to hear God speak to us through the Scriptures. We cannot take for granted that God should speak in our midst. We express in amazement saying from the depth of our hearts, “Thanks be to God.” Thanks Giving is gratitude to God for his goodness and his acts in history. This also has a reference to St Paul to thank the Lord for delivering him from sin and death through Christ’s victory on the cross.

Eucharist (Holy Mass) Part 6

The Second Part of the Eucharist THE LITURGY OF THE WORD (Scripture readings ): There are 2 main parts known as the 2 tables: The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

God’s people are nourished first with the Liturgy of the Word and then fed with the body of Our Lord at the table of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the very “source and summit” of the Christian life, Scriptures lead us to a deeper communion with Jesus in the Eucharist. Together they form one single act of worship.

From listening to the word of God, faith is born or strengthened. In the Eucharist the word made flesh gives himself to us as our spiritual food. We need both the inspired word of God in scripture and the incarnate word of God present in the Blessed Sacrament. The readings from scripture (Bible) do not simply talk about God but is God’s own word. In the proclamation of the Liturgy of the Word, we encounter the words of God Himself spoken personally to each of us.

During the Eucharist a grand tour of the Sacred Scriptures connection between the old and new Testaments are taken up. Weekday Masses follow a 2 year cycle of readings. Sunday Masses follow a 3 year cycle of readings. (Year A, B and C) .The readings from scripture follow a calendar: divided in to the various seasons and feasts. In the 4 weeks of Advent, we recall the Old Testament period of humanity’s longing for our savior. In the Christmas season, we rejoice in the birth of the Son of God who came to dwell among us. In the 40 days of Lent, we participate in Jesus prayer and fasting in the desert as we prepare to enter Christ’s passion in Holy Week. In the 50 days of the Easter season, we celebrate Jesus resurrection triumph and ascension into heaven, culminating on the 50th day with his sending of his Spirit on Pentecost day. The rest of the liturgical year known as Ordinary Time, focuses our attention on the public ministry of Jesus.

All throughout the year, the Church also draws our attention to the various mysteries of faith:
• Feast of Corpus Christi – literally Body of Christ, celebrates the gift of the Eucharist
• Feast of Holy Trinity – focuses on the mystery of the Godhead as Three Divine Persons
• Feast of All Saints – praises God for the supernatural work he has accomplished in transforming weak, sinful human beings into saints and reminds us of our call to sanctity.
• Blessed Virgin Mary – celebrate her Immaculate Conception, her Nativity, her Assumption and other aspects of her life and role in God’s saving plan.

Journeying through the Church’s year annually throughout one’s life also helps us to appreciate Christ and his work of salvation.

Blog will resume 16.12.2013

Eucharist (Holy Mass) Part 5

THE GLORIA: The Gloria is taken from the words sung by the angels over the fields of Bethlehem, announcing to the shepherds the good news of Christ’s birth. Christian who prays the Gloria joins the great men and women throughout salvation history. The Gloria praises God as the heavenly King. In the scripture, God is described as King (Ps 98:6, 99:4, Is 43:15) and as King of Israel (Is: 44.6), the King of Glory (Ps 24:7-10) and even the great King over all gods. We recognize him as King of Kings and express our willingness and acceptance of his reign in our lives.

The Gloria sums up the story of Christ saving work in 3 acts, moving from his coming, his redeeming death and to his triumphant resurrection and ascension into heaven.

Act 1- Jesus is addressed as “Son of the Father” and the “Only Begotten Son” which points to Jesus divinity. The gospel focuses on the reincarnation – the mystery in which the Son of God became man. This divine eternal word “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).

Act 2 – The “Gloria’s reference to Jesus as “Lamb of God” moves the story forward to Christ’s redemptive mission. Just as the lamb was sacrificed on that first Passover night in Egypt in order to spare Israel from death. So, Jesus is the new Passover lamb who is sacrificed on Calvary in order to save all humanity from the curse of death caused by sin.

Act 3 – We praise Jesus in the unique position of authority he possesses in heaven: “You are seated at the right hand of the Father” (Mk 16:19) In the Bible, the right hand is the position of authority (see Ps 110:1; Heb 1:13) In the Gloria, we bear witness to Christ’s reign over heaven and earth and his kingdom, which will have no end. (Dn 7:14) And we humbly ask him to “receive our prayer” and “have mercy on us”

The Gloria praises Jesus with 3 Biblical titles: the Holy one, the Lord and the Most High. Calling Jesus the “Most High” recalls a Biblical title for God as the Supreme Being over all other “Gods”. (Gn 14:18, Ps 7:17) The Old Testament commonly calls God as the Holy one. The New Testament proclaims Jesus as Lord. The Gloria concludes with the mention of the third Person of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit. Jesus is praised with the Holy Spirit, in glory of God the Father. Thus, the hymn succinctly culminates with homage paid to the Holy Trinity.

The collect or the opening Prayer : After the Gloria, the priest invites the people to pray a prayer known as the Collect. This prayer gathers together all the intentions of the people participating in the Mass and concludes the Introductory Rites.