The central act of worship in the Catholic Church is the Mass - when we come together as family to praise God, support one another, and be reinvigorated to continue our mission. The liturgical celebration is divided into two main parts:
The Liturgy of the Word
Each day the Catholic Church throughout the world hears the same scripture readings based on a 3-year cycle. Although there may be some minor variations based on the Liturgical Calendar, the standard scripture readings for a Mass include related passages: one from the Old Testament, a sung Psalm, one from the New Testament, and a Gospel passage.
(You will notice that Scripture is also used as the basis for the songs and prayers during Mass. Our liturgy is strongly rooted in the Bible.)
After the readings, the Word of God is "broken open" by the priest or deacon in the homily. We respond with the a profession of faith by reciting the Nicene Creed.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
As we move into the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we have an offertory collection. That collection will be taken to the altar, along with the bread and wine, as a sign of placing our livelihood, our trust, and our resources at the disposal of God.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, the priest consecrates the bread and wine, and they become the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Catholics (who do not have a grave sin that has yet to be forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation) come forward to partake of the body and blood and renew their commitment to Christ.
Nourished by God's Word and Son, we are sent forth to continue our work of spreading the Good News.
If You Don't Get Anything Out of Mass...
Perhaps you should try putting more into it. Consider some or all of the following:
- Read the day's scripture readings in advance so you can be more attuned to the homily.
- Take Matthew Kelly's advice and bring a small journal. Pray before Mass for God to show you one way that you can become a better person this week. When the Mass reveals that to you, write it in your journal and review it every day for a week.
- Make an effort to greet someone in the vestibule.
- Arrive early so that you have time to pray and prepare yourself for the celebration.
- Say a prayer for the celebrant(s); their vocation is a challenging one, and they need our prayers and support.
- Approach this Mass as if it were your first. Or last.
- Approach this Mass as if an atheist were sitting behind you; would a casual observer be able to tell the difference between you? Would your involvement and faith spark a transformation in the atheist?
- Sing the songs.
- Say the prayers.
- Pray for the Catholics around the world who risk their lives to attend Mass or who have to make long or difficult journeys to attend.
- Stay (and sing) until the last song is finished.
- Give someone a compliment before you leave.
- Thank the priest or deacon.
- Light a candle and say a prayer for a special intention.
- Read the bulletin (so that you can see the good works and efforts of the community with whom you are worshipping).
- Check the parish library or Catholic bookstore for resources that explain the Mass so that you come to a better understanding of what happens when and why.
- In addition to Sunday observance, add a weekday mass to your schedule.
To Learn More...
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church, beginning with paragraph 1077
- The Biblical Origins of the Mass
- Heaven on Earth: What I Found at My First Mass
- Sacred Silence
- Christ's Presence in the Mass
- Rediscovering Sunday
- The Mass and the Four Most Important Lessons of Childhood
- Celebrating the Lord's Day
- Liturgical Participation
- Short clips discussing The Parts of the Mass
- A terrific resource from St. Isidore Parish in Yuba City, CA
- The USCCB also has some great info on the Mass
Did You Know...?
The word Mass comes from the Latin word missa, which is related to missio (as in mission).
This means that the liturgy does not simply come to an end. Those assembled are sent forth to bring the fruits of the Eucharist to the world.
Our Pastoral Region Mass Times
During 11:15 Mass (Sep - May), pre-school through grade 2 children have the opportunity to participate in Children's Liturgy of the Word (CLOW).
Wondering What to Wear?
Just follow two simple guidelines:
1. Honor God by dressing in a way that shows reverence for the gifts of God's Word and the Eucharist.
2. Honor others by dressing in a way that does not distract their eyes, minds, or hearts from God.
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