In Part 1 we explained why we do what we do at Mass and the symbols and beliefs including what the priest wears over his body and why.
Here in Part 2 we will explain what happens from the moment we walk in Church.
At the entrance of each church are Holy Water Fonts. We dip our fingers in the font to get holy water on them and sign ourselves renewing our baptismal promises and we walk toward the altar which is the symbol of Jesus and where we worship and receive.
As we enter the pew where we will sit we genuflect, which comes from the Latin and means bending the knee before we enter the pew and sit. By doing this we are performing an act of humility acknowledging someone is greater (Jesus, I honor You and I humble me). It’s also an offering of service or a proposal whereby we offer ourselves to Him, we give our whole life to Him.
Come to Mass expecting to change!
The Mass begins with the processional and we stand because we are on a pilgrimage. We are part of the pilgrimage, going somewhere; entering in.
The priest and altar servers and lectors and ministers process toward the altar and take their places. The priest kisses the altar because the altar is the symbol of Jesus. A relic of a saint is embedded in the altar symbolizing we are surrounded by witnesses. In the first century the early Christians had to celebrate mass in hiding underground because of persecution; so they literally celebrated the Mass on top of the catacombs, which were the ancient tombs of the saints’ remains. These catacombs, or tombs of the saints, were the first altars.
Our Postures at mass are important as well. As a priest friend once explained; We stand to pray, sit to listen and kneel to witness a miracle.
Sign Of Cross
In the Western Church our hand is open in a sign of blessing, while the Eastern Church has a certain finger arrangement signing themselves with three fingers which express the Trinity and two natures of Jesus. God is Trinity and tracing your price tag or worth (You are worth God’s life). The purpose of Life is to know, love and serve God. This is the meaning of the sign of the cross. It expresses that I belong to God.
The Lord be with you…and with your Spirit. We are saying hi to God and He says hi back. Something dangerous is about to happen and we enter holier territory and we need the Lord to be with us to handle it – this is from ancient times.
Lord have mercy and we drop the mask. We are all not fine; brokenness. Your life and mine may not be pretty, however, we can come before God and be ourselves.
PRAISE GOD!!! Joining angels and saints to give Glory to God. Heaven and earth embrace as one body.
The priest prays on our behalf and we respond , AMEN!
We sit to be receptive to God’s word and to listen. Active posture; active listening. God speaking to us. Think of professional dancers. God is leading and we are responding to Him. We reply thanks be to God and give thanks. I suggest you read the mass readings on your own before the mass and bring something to write on and take notes. Listen and let a word or two or a phrase from the reading sink in and penetrate your heart and mind and listen to how God is speaking to you.
Speak in response to God – We are speaking back to God by using His own words.
Second Reading – From New Testament – see first reading above
Praise God! We praise God in the Alleluia
The Lord be with you. Again it’s dangerous to hear Jesus’ own words so we need the Lord to be with us and to protect us. We stand to be actively receptive. The deacon receives a blessing from the priest; “may the words of the Gospel be on your lips and in your heart that you may proclaim His words worthily”. We, the congregation make the sign on our forehead, lips and heart saying may God’s word be in my mind, mouth and heart. The deacon or priest traces the Cross on text of book of Gospels. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ! The words of the Gospel wash away our sins.
Breaking open the Word of God for The People of God! How to apply the Word to our own lives.
I believe – professed for thousands of years! Many, many have suffered and died for these beliefs. We stand with them when we profess this Creed.
Prayer of Faithful
In ancient times the catechumens (those not yet fully received into the church) had to leave the mass at this time. We pray for Church, Country and Culture (Salvation of the World), Community, Needs (oppressed by any need) and for the dead.
Next article we will start with the Liturgy of The Eucharist, which begins with the Offertory and is a critical part of the mass.
My hope is this helps you view and participate in the mass differently and actively with your entire body, mind and soul. The mass is a gift from God and too important for us not to actively engage in it. What you put into it is what you will get out of it.
Special thanks to Mrs. Mary Ann Corcoran, DRE at St. Pius X Broomall, PA for bringing us Altaration which has inspired these series of articles.
Please feel free to review Part 1 of this series for a refresher and tune in to part 3.
Until we meet again, keep walking!!!
Mr. Charles A. DeFeo, O.P.