The Liturgy (Mass) is the center of our worship, the most perfect prayer we can offer to God. The
Liturgy is a prayer to God our Father, asking everything in Jesus’ name through the power of the Holy Spirit. At every Mass, the sacrifice of Calvary is made present. The Eucharist is a sacrifice inasmuch as it is offered up and a sacrament inasmuch as it is received. In the Mass, we offer ourselves to God and God gives Himself to us. The Mass is fruitful in the measure of our surrender to the Father.
To help you better understand the Liturgy, at this page, you will find information on:
Christ's True Presence
Attendance at the Saturday Vigil Mass or the Sunday Mass is a moral obligation for all the faithful to participate in, a commandment of the Church which binds under the penalty of grave or mortal sin. This moral obligation dates from the very beginning of Christianity and became a definite law of the Church in the fourth century.
One must be conscious of his or her state of sin as the faithful are not permitted to receive holy Communion when not in a state of grace or in mortal sin. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, for a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met, “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.” (1857) Those individuals who might be in such a state are for example those who have not gone to Mass every Sunday, knowing full well that as Catholics they are to attend Mass every week.
Proper reception of the holy Communion is a moral obligation. As Catholics we believe that the holy Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ, that He Himself is present in a real and substantial manner, therefore, the faithful must cherish and guard this great gift from our Lord in our actions. Whether we receive holy Communion on the tongue or on the hand, we must always be mindful of receiving our Lord respectfully.
THE USE OF COLORED VESTMENTS
The Liturgy also has attached to it specific vestment colors for various celebrations throughout the liturgical year. The purpose of utilizing different colors for vestments is twofold: first, colors highlight the particular liturgical season and the faithful’s journey through these seasons and second, the colors punctuate the liturgical season by highlighting a particular event of mystery of faith. The various colors used for vestments are white or gold, red, green and violet or purple.
White or gold vestments symbolize purity and rejoicing, worn during Christmas and Easter. White vestments are also used for feast of our Lord (except those pertaining to His passion), the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints who were not martyred. White is also worn on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Feast of All Saints, St. John the Baptist, St. John the Evangelist, the Chair of Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul. White may also be used for Masses of Christian Burial and Masses for the Dead.
Red has a dual imagery: symbolizing the shedding of blood and the burning fire of God’s love. The theme of shedding blood is used on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, martyrdom of the apostles and the feast of the other martyrs. The theme of God’s burning fire of love is used on Pentecost and for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Green vestments are used during Ordinary Time in the liturgical season. This season focuses on the three year period of Christ’s public ministry and the Gospel passages, recounting His teachings, miracles, exorcisms and other deeds. All of Christ’s teachings and events engender great hope in the mystery of salvation. Green symbolizes this hope and life.
Violet or purple is used during Advent and Lent. It is a sign of penance, sacrifice and preparation. Rose vestments are also worn during third Sunday of Advent and fourth Sunday of Lent, as a sign of joy.
The Liturgy will at times involve the use of incense, whose purpose is that of purification and sanctification. The incense smoke symbolizes the prayers of the faithful drifting up to heaven as the Psalmist prays, “Let my prayer come like incense before you; the lifting up of my hands, like the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141). Incense is used in general during the entrance procession, at the beginning of Mass to incense the altar, at the procession and proclamation of the Gospel, at the offertory to incense the offerings, altar, priest and people and at the elevation of the Sacred Host and the chalice of the Precious Blood after the consecration. Incense may also be used for the Crucifix and the Paschal Candle, and during funeral Masses.
Structure Of The Liturgy
- Greeting – The priest greets everyone and begins with the sign of the cross
- Penitential Rite – We acknowledge we are sinners and ask for forgiveness
- Gloria (Sundays and holy days only) – Song of praise to God
- Opening Prayer – Priest leads the congregation in the opening prayer
Liturgy Of The Word
- First Reading – Usually a reading from the Old Testament
- Responsorial Psalm – One of 150 psalms is sung or said
- Second Reading (Only On Sundays Or Special Celebrations) – Usually a reading from the letters found in the New Testament
- Gospel Acclamation – Alleluia is sung prior to the Gospel. Alleluia is an ancient word expressing great joy.
- Gospel – A reading from one of the Gospels, either Mark, Matthew, Luke or John. Here is found the main theme of the Mass.
- Homily – Given by the priest, usually explaining the main theme of the Mass or the special celebration of the day.
- Creed (Only On Sundays Or Holy Days) – Either the Nicene Creed (long) or the Apostles Creed (short). The assembly professes their beliefs in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- General Intercessions (Prayer Of The Faithful) – The assembly prays to God the Father letting their needs and concerns be known. These are usually very general in nature.
Liturgy Of The Eucharist
- Preparation Of The Gifts – The assembly prays to God the Father letting their needs and concerns be known. These are usually very general in nature.
- Prayer Over The Gifts – The priest prays over the gifts of bread and wine asking God to accept them and to bless them. These will become the body and blood of Christ.
- Eucharist Prayer –
- Preface – This is the opening prayer of the Eucharistic prayer. The preface introduces the prayers to follow.
- Sanctus – This is the Holy, Holy prayer that is usually sung, but it also can be said. This song is taken from the Book of Revelation. St. John, who was given a vision of Heaven, says that the angels sing this song to God for all eternity.
- Canon – This is the main part of the Eucharist prayer
- Consecration – This is the most important part of the Mass. The priest pronounces the words of Jesus in which he says, “Take this all of you and eat it…Take this all of you and drink from it…” Jesus offers his body and blood to the Father for our sins. It is the same sacrifice that Jesus offered on the cross.
- Memorial Acclamation – Usually sung, but can be said. This is the prayer in which the assembly proclaims the death of Jesus and we await His return.
- Prayers For The Living, Prayers For The Dead, Prayers To The Saints – Since through Baptism, we are always united as one in the Church, even after death, we pray for the entire Church, on earth, in Heaven, and in Purgatory. The Church in Heaven (the Saints) pray for us too.
- Great Amen – The final part of the Eucharist prayer in which the people, after having witnessed seeing the bread and wine change into the body and blood of Jesus, give their approval by saying “AMEN” which means “YES.”
- Our Father – Before we can share in the body and blood of Jesus, which will unite us to each other through Christ, we must profess our belief that God is OUR FATHER and so we pray the words that Jesus Himself taught us.
- Sign Of Peace – After we call God OUR FATHER, we call each other, BROTHER AND SISTER, so we offer each other a sign of peace. We forgive each other first as we want God to forgive us our sins.
- Lamb Of God – Usually sung but can be said. Jesus is our sacrifice and He takes away the sins of the world. Words that come from John The Baptist.
- Communion – By receiving the body and blood of Jesus, we are united with God and with one another. WE BECOME WHAT WE EAT…THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST. After we receive the body and blood of Jesus, we should be praying, asking God to show us how we can become more like Jesus in our lives.
- Closing Prayer – The final prayer of the Mass.
- Final Blessing – The priest asks God our Father to bless the people and to protect them against all evil and harm.
- Dismissal – The priest dismisses the people telling them to “Go in peace.” The dismissal also encourages the people to be what they say they are, the body of Jesus in the world. They do that by doing, saying and acting like Jesus himself.
Lay Assistance At Mass
In addition to the priests, lay individuals also assist in the Mass. Altar servers, lectors, ministers of communion, ushers and the choir. Altar servers are the very young people of the parish, both boys and girls, who assist the priest at Mass. Lectors are adults who proclaim the scripture. Ministers of Communion help to administer Holy Communion to the congregation. In addition, Ministers of Communion also visit those who can not attend Mass, in their homes, at the hospital bedside, old age homes and other places so that these individuals may also receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Ushers welcome parishioners upon arrival and entry to the Church, help with seating and in any other way to help all get situated for Mass.