Hello, People of the Resurrection...Teaching Mass ‘Notes’ – Week 2
This week, our Teaching Mass project covers ENTRANCE RITES & the LITURGY OF THE WORD.
Remember, the Entrance Procession began when you took the first step out of bed to head to Mass. The final lap is the filling up of the Parking Lot, the welcoming and greeting here onsite, and the walk of the ministers toward the altar, in the name of all of us.
Music and Song, being so powerful and evocative; they help to unite & congeal us as one in the Lord. So it’s important to sing along, no matter what voice we have, as a way of saying: “I’m here, Lord! Count me in!”
THE PENITENTIAL ACT takes to heart Jesus teaching: “If you bring your gift to the altar and there realize your neighbor has something against you, go first and be reconciled; then bring your gift.” (Matthew 5:23) It’s important for us to ‘desire, to desire to be at peace’ with God, each other and everyone, before we receive Jesus.
So we express our guilt and contrition; we stand on the same level ground as sinners hoping to become saints by God’s Mercy. The priest then offers a petition (not absolution, so there’s no need to make the Sign of the Cross) that God be merciful to us once more.
Then we offer a song of praise – the GLORIA...like the angels over Bethlehem!
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
THE COLLECT/OPENING PRAYER - is offered by the priest, on behalf of all of the People, expressing our praise, our petition, all through Christ our Lord. His posture – the Orans – arms outstretched, accepting and vulnerable and open, like Jesus on the Cross. This attitude and vulnerability, belong to the priest and all the People - open to God.
SCRIPTURES AT MASS – 3 SOURCES
THE OLD TESTAMENT – There are 72 books in the Old Testament. The first 5 are the Jewish Torah. Others are historical, wisdom/proverbs, literature, hymns (psalms), prophecy, and other literary forms.
THE NEW TESAMENT LETTERS – The Acts of the Apostles (the 5th Gospel, attributed to St. Luke) tells the story of the early Church; so do the ‘pastoral’ letters of St. Paul, St. Peter & St. John and the anonymous Letter to the Hebrews; the Book of Revelation seeks to describe the ‘end times’, the Great Victory & Heaven.
THE GOSPELS – These texts tell the story of Jesus’ teaching, life, healing, travels, interactions, and account for his Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension. Three of them (Matthew, Mark & Luke) are largely overlapping and with shared material – called ‘synoptic’ (similar perspective & arrangement). St. John’s Gospel is more unique, poetic, symbolic, theological, and less concerned with specific details and timelines.
The current selection of the Scriptures for Mass is a masterful accomplishment, from Vatican II! It gives us a great sampling of the Bible, which itself is not a Book, but a Library (a Book of Books). So, to read the Bible cover-to-cover isn’t such a good idea.
Instead, many monastic men and women rely on the Scriptures for Daily Mass as their diet, and sustenance – their guidance from God for the day and all it offers and asks of them. That practice – Lectio Divina – is a great strategy for any one of us!
THE GOSPEL receives particular reverence.
It is proclaimed by a deacon or priest.
All those who are able, stand for its proclamation.
Sometimes the Gospel Book is honored by incense; and always, it is honored by a kiss from the proclaimer.
It is preceded by a sung ALLELUIA – a happy word, like LLLAMBEAUUUU! or BOOYAH! or COWABUNGA!! We’re happy because Jesus is speaking directly to us, in the present!
A pious custom of making the Sign of the Cross on one’s brow, lips and chest, with the prayer: “Lord be in my mind, on my lips and in my heart that I may worthily receive Your Holy Gospel” is also appropriate.
Unlike a ‘sermon’, which is topical, devotional, thematic, historical and not necessarily related to the Scriptures which have been proclaimed, a homily is rooted in the Scriptures of the Mass, at least in part.
For myself, the best homilies are those which ‘shuffle the deck’ of Scripture (always True) with the shifting circumstances, events, struggles and joys of contemporary human life. Just as a good shuffle guarantees a good hand, so this kind of “Scripture & Life Shuffle” allows the Eternal Word of God to speak to us in our circumstances; and empowers us to know how to apply that Eternal Truth to what’s going on here and now.
In my preaching, I try to pray over the Scriptures and look for something that jumps out...maybe from all three of them. My effort is to start with a true story that will somehow get us to that point; and if it’s indirect or oblique – so much the better! My hope is to ‘hook’ my hearers into wondering: “How is he going to connect that to the Scriptures?” If I can, hopefully it’s memorable...the point, not the story. And then I try to close with some tangible application for the coming week.
OUR PROFESSION OF FAITH – THE CREED
If the homily is successful, effective, the Assembly should be eager, ‘all pumped up’ to recommit ourselves to Christ, at least for another week! And so it becomes powerful and inspiring to profess the Creed together. It makes us ‘family’! When we celebrate Baptisms at Mass, it’s a reminder that the baby being baptized will be drawn to Faith by how we profess it, and live it daily!
So lots of ‘words’ in the Liturgy of the Word! Listening carefully, we pray to be able to put them into action every day!
As we hear, and seek to obey and speak and act on the Word in the world…
“God bless us...EVERY one”!