The Mass

THE MASS. It has gone by many names over the centuries: the Breaking of the Bread, the Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy, the Unbloody Sacrifice, the Mystical Supper of the Lamb, and many more. Any title falls short of capturing what is the “source and summit” of Christian faith. And yet, every title contributes to deepening our entry into this greatest Mystery of our faith.

The Mass: this simplest title most likely derives from the sending forth in Latin: Ite MISSA est (“Go forth, the Mass is ended”; or, more literally, “Go, She (the Church) has been sent”). The Mass is our greatest prayer because it is the prayer of Christ in his Paschal Mystery, in his supreme response to the Father, which includes his own “going forth” to the right hand of God. The ritual that clothes the Mass both invites and disposes the baptized to join in Christ’s response of offering, sacrifice, blessing and praise.

The New Evangelization is a stirring up of the never-quenched fires of faith and mission that derive from and lead back to the Mass.  As our faith is strengthened and our worship renewed, it is hoped that our witness will serve the transformation of minds and hearts, as well as the culture of our country. Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord.  It is the Mass.

Preparing for Mass

For people in the parish, taking time to prepare for Mass is absolutely essential.  The priests prepare the homily.  Lectors spend time reviewing the readings.  Music directors select hymns that connect to the readings.  The choir practices.  The sacristan readies the vestments, the hosts, the wine, and the vessels.  Liturgy committee members make sure the environment of the church is arranged.  Ushers make sure the church is tidy and the bulletins are available.  

Most Catholics would agree that these kinds of preparations are important for a prayerful liturgy.  But what most Catholics don't realize is that it is also important for the people in the pews to prepare for Mass.  To help you enter more deeply into the celebration of the Mass and achieve a more intimate union with Christ and the other members of the worshipping community, we present some simple things you can do to prepare for Mass.

  1. Know why you are there - The Mass is a liturgy; the word liturgy comes from a Greek word meaning "the work of the people."  You come to Mass not as a spectator but as a participant.  You join with other members of the parish community in prayer, worship, thanksgiving, and communion.  You no longer are just an individual.  You are an important part of the Body of Christ.  Take a few minutes each week to think about your place in the Body of Christ.  It will give you a deeper appreciation of who you are.  It will help you recognize the unique gifts and talents that you were given.  It will give you a deeper appreciation of the other people in the OLPH community.
  2. Reflect on the readings -  Set aside a few minutes on a specific day each week to read the First Reading, the Psalm, the Second Reading and the Gospel for the following Sunday.  Let the words penetrate your mind and your soul.  How do these readings apply to your life?  What is the Lord saying to you in these readings?  Is there something that you are being asked to do?  Is the Lord leading you in a new direction?  Finding the weekly readings is easy Click here to find this Sunday's Readings for the Mass.  As you become accustomed to review the readings ahead of time, you will begin to look forward to going to Mass.  During the Mass you will have a deeper awareness of how the introductory prayers tie into the theme of the readings.  When you hear the readings proclaimed and the priest give the homily, the insights you receive will be more profound, and you will have a heightened spiritual awareness.  
  3. Think about your offering - When you come to Mass you bring everything you are to the altar as an offering to the Lord.  It's a good idea to spend a little time throughout the week thinking about what you will offer to the Lord.  What joys will you share?  What sorrows would you like to unburden?  How have you used the gifts you have been given?  What anxieties or tensions are troubling you?  Do you want to offer up any pain or suffering you have experienced?  Do you have questions or doubts that you want to give to God?  Think also about the state of your soul.  Are you ready to give yourself to God entirely?  Are you holding anything back, carrying any anger or resentments?  Do you need to forgive someone or seek the forgiveness of someone you hurt?  Do you need to seek the Lord's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?  It is also a good idea to think about what you want to ask God.  Is there something or someone you want to pray for?  Do you need guidance in some area of your life?  For what are you grateful?
  4. See yourself as part of the community -  Your experience of the Mass begins the moment you arrive at church.  Plan to get there a little early.  Outside the church, smile and speak to the other people who are arriving, keeping in mind that everyone in the OLPH community is part of the Body of Christ.  You might take a moment in the parking lot or the vestibule to introduce yourself to someone you don't know.  A friendly hello makes everyone feel wanted and welcome.  As you enter the church, bless yourself with holy water.  Making the Sign of the Cross with holy water is a reminder of your baptism, which made you a part of the Body of Christ.  It is through your baptism that you can participate in the fullness of the Eucharistic celebration.  You might try sitting in a different pew every once in a while.  It will give you a new view of the altar and a chance to interact with different people.  Be sure to genuflect or bow before entering your pew.  We do this as an act of reverence and an acknowledgement of God's presence.
  5. Enter into God's presence - Spend some time in silence before Mass begins.  Quiet your mind.  Get rid of any tensions or anxieties that you brought with you.  Think about how you purposely avoided food for an hour before Mass.  One reason for this fast is to create a feeling of hunger for the Eucharist.  Allow your soul to yearn for the Lord.  Ask God to fill all of the empty places inside you.  Invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you in the readings, the music, the homily, the prayers of the Mass, and your Communion meditation.  Everything that you think and do in these final moments before Mass instills in you a joyful anticipation for your encounter with the Lord.  

 

 

At Our Lady of Perpetual Help there are several occasions to participate in the Celebration of the Mass:

  • Monday - Friday:  6:15 a.m.  8:30 a.m.  12:00 p.m.
  • Saturday:  6:15 a.m.  8:30 a.m.  4:30 p.m. (Vigil)
  • Sunday:  6:30 a.m.  8:30 a.m.  10:30 a.m.  5:00 p.m.

To view the talking points from Fr. Greg Schlarb's explanation of The Mass from January 2014, please click on the Sessions below:

The Introductory Rites

The Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Eucharist

The Communion & Concluding Rites

To view the handouts from the explanation of The Mass please click on the Handouts below:

Introductory Rites Handout

The Liturgy of the Word Handout

The Liturgy of the Eucharist Handout

The Communion & Concluding Rites Handout

Here are some ways you can participate more fully in the Mass:

  • Research the Mass, its history, its substance, and its meaning.
  • Think about what you are saying when you recite the prayers of the Mass.
  • Be enthusiastic as you speak the words of the responses.
  • Sing with your whole heart and soul.
  • Pay close attention to the homily.
  • Offer to bring the gifts up to the altar.
  • Allow yourself to feel a sense of awe during the Consecration.
  • Realize that you are receiving the Real Presence of Jesus during Communion.
  • Spend a few moments before you leave church in silent meditation and prayer, think about what you experienced.  Did you experience God's presence?

 

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