Mass inthe Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, the mass or Eucharist is the centralact of worship. It is described by the Catholic catechism as the source andsummit of the Christian life. It is the main sacrament. The catholicmass is conducted in a certain form. There is an orderly manner in whichreadings are made during the mass; known as the Structure of Mass. Generally,there are the readings, antiphons sung or recited during the entranceprocession or communion, and the texts of the three prayers known as the“collect”, the prayer over the gifts and the post-communion prayer. All theseitems vary each day according to the liturgical season, the feast days oftitles or events in the life of Christ, the feast days and commemorations ofthe saints.  There are also specific Massesfor particular circumstances (like funeral Masses, Masses for Peace, Masses tobegin the academic year, Masses for the celebration of Confirmation, etc.).

At the beginning of the Mass, the priest enters with adeacon (if there is one) and the altar servers. The deacon may carry the Bookof the Gospels and the Mass servers carry a processional cross and candles andincense. In most cases, the entrance chant is sung or the entrance antiphonrecited. When the priest reaches his chair, he leads the assembly in the makingof the sign of the cross. The priest then invites those present to take part inthe Act of Penitence. The priest then calls upon the people to pray andeverybody observes a brief silence so that they may become aware of being inGod’s presence and may call to mind their intentions.

 During Sundays’ Mass celebrations, three scripture readingsare given while on other days only two are given. In case of three readings,the first comes from the Old Testament; the second reading from the NewTestament then the third reading which is also the highest point of the Liturgyof the Word is the proclamation of the Gospel. After the culmination of thereadings and teachings, the priest concludes with a longer prayer.Then comes the time for the Liturgy of the Eucharist wherethe linen corporal is spread over the center of the altar followed with theceremonial placing on it of bread and wine. The bread and wine is then placedin a paten and the wine is put in a chalice. The priest then places each on thecorporal saying silently a prayer over each. After saying a prayer, theEucharistic Prayer; which is the center and climax of the entire celebration. Then the priest begins a dialogue between himself and the people of the congregation.

Then it is time for the communion rite where the Lord’sPrayer is recited or sung. Afterwards it is the time for the rite of peace. Thecommunicants then start to receive the consecrated host either on the tongue orin the hand. Alongside distributing the communion there is singing of anappropriate approved hymn or chant. The sacred vessels are then purified eitherby the Priest, Deacon or an instituted acolyte after the Communion or Mass. The priest thenconcludes the Liturgy of the Eucharist with the Prayer after Communion.

Lastly is the concluding rite where after the Prayer afterCommunion, announcements may be made. Then the Priest gives the usualliturgical greeting and imparts his blessing. The liturgy concludes with adialogue between the priest and congregation. Then the priest dismisses thecongregation by saying “The Mass is ended, go in peace” and the congregationresponds “Thanks be to God!”