Hello, People of the Resurrection...Teaching Mass ‘Notes’ – Week 3
This week, the 3rd & final week of our Teaching Mass Project, we cover the LITURGY of the EUCHARIST.
“Eucharist” is a Greek word, which means: “Thanksgiving”.
St. Paul tells the early Church to: “Dedicate yourselves to thanksgiving.”(Colossians 4:2)
In 1974, a group Latin American Bishops declared: “We shall truly become Christians on that day, when we weep, not because we have lost something, but because we realize that we’ve been given so much.”
Of course, the source of our thanksgiving & gratitude is the gift of Jesus Christ! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that all who believe in Him might not die, but may have Eternal Life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world might be saved through the Son.”(John 3:16)
For such a gift, how could we ever say “thank you” too much? And so one weekend to the next, for 20 centuries, the meal of the Lord’s Supper, the Mass, has been celebrated; the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary offered; the sacrament of His Body and Blood shared, in order to nourish and sustain Christians in the Gospel Life.
In fact, Holy Communion is the “Last Rites” – Viaticum – “food for the journey” through life and to Heaven’s Gate!
Of course, because it’s so familiar and frequent, the Mass can get routine, even boring, as many say. But ‘routine’ doesn’t stop us from saying: “I love you”, or taking a daily shower, or having 3 meals a day. Routine holds our life in place!
It’s frequent to hear folks dismiss the Mass as “boring”. But that’s not playing fair.
Not only is the Mass what we “get out of it”,
but also “what we bring to it”...hopefully our whole selves, and our whole world!
So, as with a family meal, after some visiting & story-telling (Liturgy of the Word) we move to the table.
The gifts (food & drink & charity) are brought forward, and the table set. And, as for any feast, we use our best linen, silverware, dishes, glasses, etc. So it is with the Mass – these objects are ‘consecrated’ and set aside for this singular usage and purpose.
And as the meal is begun we have a prayer: “Bless us, O Lord and these Your gifts...”
So, at Mass, it is the Jewish Berakah form:
“Blessed are You, Lord, God of all creation! Through your goodness we have this bread/wine to offer....”
The priest, both practically and symbolically/spiritually washes his hands.
And the gifts are put out there, and 3 times offered:
1) the Berakah prayer of the priest; 2) the “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands...” prayer of the People; 3) the Prayer over the Gifts of the priest to which the People respond “Amen” (“yes”). A ‘trifecta’ of offering!
Then, to get folks engaged & involved, there’s a 3-part Preface (beginning) Dialogue to the Eucharistic Prayer; it engages the Assembly:
The Lord be with you! And with your spirit!
Lift up your hearts! We lift them up to the Lord!
Let us give thanks to the Lord of our God! It is right & just!
The Preface content sets the seasonal tone; the Holy, Holy, Holy is sung; and the Eucharistic Prayer is launched:
Calling down God’s Spirit upon the bread & wine, as the priest stretches out his hands over the offering...
Articulating the words of Jesus to “institute” the Eucharist – (This is my Body/This is the cup of my Blood...)
We believe that the calling down of the Holy Spirit (Epiclesis) and the repeating of Jesus’ own words changes the bread and wine (though we cannot see it or otherwise measure it scientifically) to be the Real Presence of Jesus. This is Transubstantiation.
The Eucharistic Prayer goes on - to remember - since He said: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19) Jesus’ Death & Resurrection. We call down the Holy Spirit (another Epiclesis) on the People of God who share in the Table of Christ’s Body and Blood. And we pray for the Church, the World, the clergy, all God’s People, and for those who have died. Lastly, we pray for ourselves, that we may come to the fulfillment of the destiny of our Baptism: Eternal Life in the Risen Christ.
Then, the Great Amen has us all saying: “Yes”! to all of this. It’s like the Best Man’s toast at a wedding supper:
Through Him, with Him, in Him, O God Almighty Father! All glory and honor is Yours, forever and ever! Amen!
We pray the Lord’s Prayer – a vision of Heaven and blueprint for the earthly Church
We ask for mercy in the Lamb of God one more time (realizing how overwhelming this gift of the Eucharist is) and then...
We share in the Holy Communion of His Body & Blood, which intimately binds us to Jesus and to each other.
Important silence is offered in this intimate time – “Talk to Jesus in your heart.” – a closing prayer finishes the Eucharistic Prayer.
And please note: Just like a banquet or dinner: “It’s impolite to ‘Eat & Run’”. It’s only a few minutes more, so please stay! Thanks!
Announcements may be included and then, a Blessing & Dismissal conclude the Mass....sort of.
The dismissal, in Latin: “Ite! Missa est” – Go out into the world! The Mass ‘is’ as we are broken and poured out, bringing Jesus to daily life, and to others! It’s never really ended, but just beginning again!
As we make ALL OF OUR LIFE a Mass, a Eucharist, a Great Thanksgiving Offering...
“God bless us...EVERY one”!