The Eucharist and the Parts of the Mass—Part 5

08-22-2021Fr. Charlie's Homilies & Teaching NotesFr. Charlie Goraieb
  • Full and Active Participation
    • In the first of the series, we highlighted the phrase, “Source and Summit,” one of the most oft-quoted ways to refer to the Mass. For a Catholic, everything begins with and then brings us back to the Eucharist.
    • Another very common phrase from Vatican II is “full, conscious and active participation,” referring to the role of all those who attend Mass.
  • For a little background: prior to the council, when the Mass was all in Latin and not audible to the people, even though people reverently embraced the sacred liturgy, many were not engaged.  During the Mass, some would pray the rosary; others would read through their prayer books and in some cases, the blessed sacrament was exposed so people could do adoration during the Mass.
    • The Fathers of the Council wanted to change this so that the people could be more focused on the Mass.
  • This participation doesn’t mean that everyone has to be doing Not everyone has to become a lector or Extra-ordinary minister or ushers or greeter or music minister or an altar server—although, we very much appreciate all those who do serve us in this way.  But if there are 700 people at Mass, you can’t all be serving in a ministry. 
    • But as baptized members of the Body of Christ, you are not just passive observers. So how can you more fully participate?
  • One of the recommendations says that “through a good understanding of the rites and prayers the people should take part in the sacred action, conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration.”
    • This is one of the reasons that we priests decided to spend five weeks explaining the Mass.
  • Then we are given these specific guidelines:
    • First, it means, that the mind and heart are awake, alert and engaged during the Eucharistic celebration. You’ve quieted down your mind and are ready to focus on the Liturgy.
    • Secondly, your participation involves exterior action: praying, singing and acting in union with the whole assembly—standing, sitting and (when possible) kneeling.
    • Third, it means listening attentively to the readings, especially the Gospel (parents, you can quiz your kids on the way home what the Gospel was about today?).
    • Fourth, participation also includes communal silence and an openness to
      receive the grace of God.
      • I’ve been to Masses where it seemed that every minute had to be filled with either the prayers or music, with no time for silent reflection. The very mystery of the Eucharist requires an interior disposition to listen and take into our souls what we are experiencing.
    • I want to emphasize two important areas that will reflect your active participation:
      • Your loud and enthusiastic responses to the prayers and dialogues throughout the Mass, beginning with the opening sign of the cross.
      • The second is singing. St Augustine says that when we sing, we pray twice. We come out of ourselves to join others in praising God with song.
        • Our music ministry is very aware of picking songs that we know and playing them in the musical keys that will allow everyone to sing.
        • I realize that some of you don’t consider yourselves to be very good singers—and your probably not mistaken. But that’s the voice that God gave you, so that’s the one you sing with. 
        • A few of you may actually be tone deaf—you really cannot hear the tone or the key. Well, sing softly so as not to throw off your neighbor—but sing.
        • I’ve told the music ministry that we will all know they are doing their job well when you all are singing so loudly and robustly that we can’t hear them. They disappear so that your voices fill the Church.
  • Two weeks ago we talked about the doctrine of Ex Opere Operato, which means that no matter the spiritual disposition of the minister, if he does what the Church asks of him, the Sacrament will be valid.
  • There is a corresponding doctrine called, Ex opere operantis.
    • This means that even though the sacrament you are receiving is valid, unless your soul is in the right disposition, you will not receive the Lord fruitfully.
    • It is a serious sin to receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin. St Paul says that if we eat the Bread unworthily, we do so to our own condemnation. 
    • Please go to confession first so that you can receive Him fruitfully. .
  • We are also to fast from food or drink at least 1 hour before Mass begins.
    • There are exceptions for medications or if you need to eat for health reasons.
    • But you shouldn’t be drinking a double latte with honey on your way to Church.
    • We want our stomachs to become worthy receptacles for the Lord.
    • When we come forward, we should make an act of reverence by bowing
    • You can receive Him on the tongue or on the hand (explain how to make the throne with your hand).
    • Most people will receive the Lord standing, but I have no problem with people who wish to kneel to receive the Lord. That is their choice.
  • When you return to your seat, try to enter into silent adoration and thanksgiving for the great gift you have received.

Last Section on the Mass

The Communion Rites

  • The Lord’s Prayer
    • It is the perfect prayer. On another occasion we will do a catechesis on this prayer.
    • We are going to go back to singing it.
  • The Kiss of Peace (It was included in the 4th century right after the Our Father when we say, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
    • The pandemic has altered the freedom with which we used to offer this sign of peace. We are free to make a gesture of some kind to those around us.  And of course, you decide what to do with your spouse or children.
  • Fraction Rite—taken from 1 Cor 10:17 (participating in the one bread that is broken, all form on body in Christ.) Early on, the Eucharist was called, the “Breaking of the Bread.”  The breaking of the Bread also signifies that the Body of our Lord has been broken, when he died for us on the Cross.
  • Commingling—the priest breaks off a piece of the host and mingles it in the Precious Blood, signifying the reunion of the Lord’s Body and Blood, His Resurrection.
  • The Lamb of God (or the Agnus Dei)—originally to accompany the breaking of the Bread and the distribution of the Hosts to the ciboria.
  • The Invitation to the Supper of the Lamb (the fourth and last elevation)
  • Distribution of Communion—the third procession
  • Communion Antiphon—a chant that precedes the Communion song.
  • Communion Song—to help us reflect on the great mystery we are participating in.
  • Silence and mediation—reflect on the great gift you have just received.
  • Prayer after Communion—summarizes the effects of the Mass and the reception of Holy Communion
  • Announcements— Read the bulletin, the app, the web page.
  • Dismissal—Go Forth and let the effects of the Eucharist be seen in your life.
  • The Recession by the Priest, Deacon and servers (fourth and final procession)
  • Final Song—fill us with gratitude and joy as we leave Holy Mass. Should be upbeat and joyful

(Prayer to St Michael-while not an official part of the Mass, highly recommended by several Popes since Pope Pius X.  A particularly relevant prayer in light of the many forces arrayed against the family and the Church in our time).