Posts Tagged ‘Mass 101’

MASS 101 PART 12: The End and the Beginning

On November 27, 2011, the new Roman Missal translation was launched in our Mass celebrations. For our final portion of Mass 101, we will look at the Blessing and Dismissal portion of that Mass, alongside Cardinal Wuerl and Mike Aquilina.


Did you know…

  • Mass takes its name from the final words of the celebration, the dismissal. “Ite, missa est.” (“Go forth, the Mass is ended.”)
  • Pope Benedict XVI believes the abrupt ending to Mass is modeled after Luke 24, where Jesus meets with the disciples after meeting the men on the road to Emmaus. The men, not recognizing him as Christ, invited him to eat with them. It was only after he “took bread, broke it, and gave it to them” that they realized who he was. (Luke 24:30) “Then he vanished from their sight, and they were left to tell the good news to their fellow disciples. They ‘set out at once’ for Jerusalem (Luke 24:33).” (The Mass p. 205)
  • The Mass ends as it begins: with the Sign of the Cross.


Read Luke 24 and the scene described above, and consider our own similarities with the disciples. Do we not often enter into Mass distracted by our own concerns and burdens, only to be greeted by Christ in the Eucharist? Are we not refreshed by his presence, and then sent—almost abruptly, but no less purposefully—to tell the world of his love and forgiveness?

Cardinal Wuerl says this:

“What we receive in Mass we must now take into the world. The challenging thing about Christian faith is that we cannot hold on to it unless we give it away—unless we share it with others. We have received Christ, and he as mingled his flesh with ours. His blood courses through us and gives life to our bodies—gives his life to our bodies! We become his face and voice and hands and feet as we walk out into the crowded sidewalks, as we return to our homes and neighborhoods, and we report for another workday.” (p. 206)

May the grace and peace of Christ be with you!

Go forth, the Mass is ended.
Thanks be to God!

Thank you for celebrating and learning more about the Mass with us! We hope you enjoyed Mass 101.

MASS 101 PART 11: Holy Communion

This portion of the Mass is truly what the entire celebration is about. And while much of the Mass can have an elaborate nature—with exalted language, a beautiful setting, and the richness of tradition—this most central act of the Mass, the Holy Communion, is both profound and beautiful in its simplicity.

As quoted by Cardinal Wuerl in The Mass:

“Each communicant bows reverently while approaching the priest.
The priest holds up a host and says, ‘The body of Christ.’
The communicant says, ‘Amen,’ and receives Jesus.” (p. 192)

This simple rite has been preserved since the earliest centuries of the Church. Even in the fourth century, Saint Ambrose described the rite exactly as it is today: “The priest says to you, ‘The body of Christ.’ And you say, ‘Amen.’”

Just as the rite is beautiful in its simplicity, it is powerful in that we receive the body and blood of Jesus.

“Christ, after all, is fully present…[we] receive all of Jesus and all the grace of the sacrament.” (p. 195)


Come back next Sunday for the final Mass 101, Mass 101 Part 12: The End and the Beginning!

MASS 101 PART 10: The Eucharist Prayer

The Roman Missal calls this portion of the Mass the “center and summit of the entire celebration.” Here, the priest does what Jesus did: he takes the bread, breaks it, and declares it to be the body of Jesus.

During the act of the bread and wine, however, the priest prays the longest prayer of the Mass. This is called the Eucharist Prayer, also called the “Canon of the Mass.” (This is also referred to as Anaphora, the Greek word meaning an offering, or “carried up.”)

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice—once, for all, upon the cross. His sacrifice cannot, and need not, be repeated. But by representing his sacrifice in the act of the Eucharist, we are able to spiritually and sacramentally enter into his sacrifice and draw nourishment from it.

This profound act suitably moves us into a profound prayer of gratitude. Thus, the eucharistia prayer of thanksgiving is spoken.



In the Roman Missal, there are four primary Eucharist prayers the priest may choose from:

Eucharist Prayer I: Based on the great Latin liturgy of the ancient Church. Published by Saint Pope Pius V in 1570, but bears substantial similarities to the rites described in the writings of Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine and Saint Gregory the Great.

Eucharist Prayer II: Based on a liturgy in Greek recorded around 215 A.D. by Saint Hippolytus of Rome. This version is brief and to the point, and is intended primarily for use on weekdays.

Eucharist Prayer III: An abbreviated form that follows the pattern of the Roman Canon. Composed during the latter part of the 20th century.

Eucharist Prayer IV:  Modeled after certain liturgies of the Easter Church, and includes a longer, very poetic retelling of the history of salvation.


Come back next Sunday for Mass 101 Part 11: Holy Communion!

MASS 101 PART 9: The Homily

The homily is, in Cardinal Wuerl’s words, “a graced moment to share the faith.” (The Mass p.124)

The Church follows the example of Jesus when he addressed the synagogue gatherings (Luke 4: 16-20) and, on the day of his Resurrection, as he “interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures” to the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 4:24-27). The homily is modeled after these moments in Christ’s life to provide instruction and encouragement in faith to the body.

Typically, the homily does not run too long, but it is an important part of the Mass, as it prepares the congregation for the coming Eucharist celebration. Each preacher has a different style in the presentation of the homily. Below, we’ve included a few links to the homilies of three different leaders in the Church. Take some time to read, listen to and watch their different styles of homily presentation.


You can find Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s homilies on the
Archdiocese of New York website.

Father Robert Barron offers
audio versions of his homilies on the Word on Fire website.

See Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s
homily at the Rite of Reception for the St. Luke Community here.

Come back next Sunday for Mass 101 Part 10: The Eucharist Prayer!

MASS 101 PART 8: The Penitential Rite

As we gather together before God, it is important to remember our sinfulness, to confess, and to ask the Lord for mercy. Consider this story, told by Jesus in Luke 18, and how it illuminates the Penitential Rite portion of the Mass:

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O, God, I thank you that I am
not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast
twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and
would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me,
a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will
be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18: 10-14)

Both the Pharisee and the tax collector needed mercy. But Jesus praises the one who recognized his own failings. How, then, can we doubt our own need for forgiveness as we enter the presence of God?

“The Penitential Rite gives us a chance to recognize our failings and ask God to cleanse us of all that might hold us back from the celebration of the Eucharist…During this part of the Mass, the congregation may also pray a longer prayer, called the Confiteor (a Latin word meaning “I confess,” pronounced cone-FEE-tay-or).” (The Mass, pp 100-101)

The priest may choose to substitute the “rite of sprinkling” for some or all of the prayers—an action that douses the congregation with holy water. Whether the priest chooses prayer or sprinkling, however, the effect is the same: we have repented. Once we have taken full responsibility for our sins and sought forgiveness for them, we receive the mercy of God.

The Penitential Rite is followed by the glorification of God through the Gloria, as well as Scripture readings and the Responsorial Psalm.

The Rite of Sprinkling


Come back next Sunday for Mass 101 Part 9: The Homily!

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