"At the Last Supper, on the night when he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the Sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and the pledge of future glory is given to us." (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, No. 47)
At Mass or the Lord's Supper, the people of God are called together into one, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord or eucharistic sacrifice. For this reason Christ's promise applies supremely to such a local gathering of the holy Church: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst" (Matthew 18:20). For the celebration of the Mass, which perpetuates the Sacrifice of the Cross, Christ is really present in the very assembly gathered in his name; he is present in the person of the minister, in his word, and indeed substantially and continuously under the eucharistic species.
The Mass is made up of two principle parts: The Liturgy of the Word and The Liturgy of the Eucharist. These two parts are so closely interconnected that they form but one single act of worship.
The purpose of these is to help the assembled people become a community and dispose them to listen to God's word and to celebrate the Eucharist worthily.
Entrance: The priest enters with the deacon and other ministers. The assembly sings in order to open the celebration, intensify their unity and to lead their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season.
Salutation of the Altar and of the People Gathered Together: After the priest and the ministers salute the altar with a profound bow the priest and deacon kiss the altar as a sign of veneration. The priest stands at the chair and along with the assembly makes the sign of the cross. Then through the greeting the priest signifies the presence of the Lord to the community gathered together.
The Act of Penitence: The priest invites the assembly to take part in an act of penitence. On Sundays the blessing and sprinkling of water may take the place of the customary act of penitence.
The Kyrie Eleison: This chant, done by the faithful, acclaims the Lord and implores his mercy.
The Gloria: The Gloria is an ancient hymn of praise which is sung or said on Sundays outside the season of Advent and Lent.
The Collect: The priest invites all to pray in silence. The priest then speaks a prayer to "collect" the prayers of the faithful together. The people make this prayer their own by the acclamation amen.
The Liturgy of the Word
The Readings: In the readings, the table of God's word is laid for the faithful and the riches of the Bible are opened to them. Non-biblical texts are never substituted for the word of God.
The Responsorial Psalm: This psalm corresponds to the readings and is taken from the Lectionary. It encourages meditation on the word of God. It is preferable that this psalm is sung.
The Gospel: The reading of the Gospel is accorded special dignity. In some places an Evangeliary or Book of Gospels is carried to the ambo from the altar as the people stand and sing the Alleluia or other acclamation according to the Liturgical Season.
The Homily: Ordinarily given by the priest celebrant, a homily explains some point of the readings or another point from the Ordinary or the Proper parts of the Mass. There must be a homily on Sundays and holy days of obligation at all Masses with a congregation; it may not be omitted without a serious reason.
The Profession of Faith: The profession of faith is sung or said by the priest together with the faithful on Sundays and solemnities. By reciting this rule the people call to mind the great mysteries of faith before they celebrate these mysteries in the Eucharist.
The General Intercessions: By this prayer the people respond to the word of God and exercise their baptismal priesthood by offering prayers to God for the salvation of all. Prayers are offered for the needs of the Church, for public authorities and the salvation of the world, for those burdened by any kind of difficulty and for the local community. This prayer form is done in litany style with the people responding by an invocation.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
Preparation of the Gifts: The gifts of bread and wine which are to become Christ's Body and Blood are brought forward by representatives of the faithful. This is also the time for gifts or money for the poor to be brought forward. After the gifts are placed on the altar the priest offers prayers and may incense the gifts as a sign of the Church's prayer rising like incense, in the sight of God. The priest then washes his hands as an expression of his desire to be cleansed within.
The Prayer over the Offerings: The preparation of the gifts comes to an end with the prayer over the offerings, which prepares the assembly for the Eucharistic Prayer.
The Eucharistic Prayer: This prayer is the center and summit of the celebration.
The Preface: The Eucharistic Prayer begins with this hymn of praise. There are many different prefaces for different seasons and occasions.
|Holy, Holy, Holy: Joining with the heavenly powers, the whole assembly sings this acclamation of divine praise.|
|Epiclesis: This is a special invocation calling on the power of the Holy Spirit asking that these gifts be consecrated.|
|Institution Narrative and Consecration: In the words and actions of Christ, the sacrifice is carried out which Christ himself instituted at the Last Supper, when, under the species of bread and wine, he offered his Body and Blood.|
|Anamnesis or Mystery of Faith: In this acclamation the assembled Church keeps the memorial of Christ by recalling especially his blessed passion, glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven.|
|Offering: The Church's intention is to not only offer this spotless victim but also to offer themselves.|
|Intercessions: The intercessions make it clear that the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the entire Church. Offering is made for the dead and the living.|
Final Doxology: The glorification of God is expressed in the doxology, which is confirmed by the people's acclamation, AMEN.
The Communion Rite: Since the eucharistic celebration is the paschal banquet, it is desirable that those who are properly disposed receive Christ's Body and Blood as spiritual food.
The Lord's Prayer: This petition for daily food takes on special significance for those about to partake of the eucharistic food. It is also a plea for purification from sin so that what is holy may be given to those who are holy.
The Rite of Peace: By this rite the faithful ask for peace and unity of the whole human family.
The Breaking of the Bread: This gesture of Christ at the Last Supper gave the entire eucharistic action its name in apostolic times. It is a sign that the many faithful are made one body by receiving Communion.
Communion: The priest, after saying the prayer of humility from the Gospels, receives Holy Communion and then ministers to the faithful. It is most desirable that the faithful receive the Lord's body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass so that Communion will stand out more clearly as participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.
Announcements: Brief announcements to the community may be done at this time.
Dismissal: The brief rite consists of a final greeting by the priest, a blessing and a dismissal by the priest or deacon so that each member goes out to do good works while praising and blessing God.