Monday, March 22, 2010

Understanding Catholic Mass: #2 Liturgy

Second word I needed to know in my studies was liturgy.

Liturgy (leitourgia) is a Greek word that originally meant, "a public duty, a service to the state undertaken by a citizen."   Its comes from two parts: leitos meaning public and ergo or erxo meaning ,to do. From this we have leitourgos, "a man who performs a public duty.

Liturgy in the Mass means a public act of worship, prayers, ceremonies, rites and sacraments of the Church,
compared to one having private devotions. It has two purposes. One to give honor and praise to God, that is our worship and second to receive grace and blessings from God for us and the human race

There are two liturgical parts of the Mass. They come after the introductory prayers, the penitential rite, the Kyrie Eleison, and the Gloria.  I'll talk more about those later.

The first liturgical part is the Liturgy of the Word. Here we listen to God's word. First the Old Testament, then there is a Responsorial Psalm, a reading from the New Testament letters and then a reading from the Gospels. The readings of God's Word is extremely important and is to be explained to us in the Homily or sermon.  We stand during the Gospel readings to show reverence, attesting to the fact that Christ is present and speaking to us.

The second liturgical act is the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  Eucharist meaning "thanksgiving," This was  instituted at the Last Supper when Christ "gave thanks," to the Father and by this fact it is the supreme object and act of our thanks to give to God.

To start out the Liturgy of the Eucharist the gifts of bread and wine, which will become Christ*s body and blood, are brought to the altar.
The altar is prepared.  The bread and wine are brought up to the priest or deacon by one of the parishioners. In the early days of Christianity the bread and wine were brought from peoples homes. So, when you see the person bringing these up to the altar there is a representation of us bringing the gifts.  This is also a time for money offerings and other offerings, such as from the poor, but they are not placed on the altar, they are set aside.

The most important part of the entire celebration begins: the eucharistic prayer. This is  a prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification (being made holy). The priest invites the people to lift up their hearts to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving.  The meaning of the prayer is that the entire congregation joins itself to Christ in acknowledging the great things God has done in offering the sacrifice.

Through this prayer the Church calls on the power of the Holy Spirit and asks that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated, that is, become Christ's body and blood, and that the victim be received in communion be the source of salvation for those who will partake. After that prayer is the Our Father.

I hope that this helps you understand a little more of what happens during the liturgical parts of Mass. I don't claim to know everything about the Mass and the Catholic Church. I have had to study and learn on my own. I went 11 years to a Catholic school but either I didn't pay attention or I don't remember learning this stuff.. Looking and searching out some of this up has helped me. Today we live in a world of information. We can find out so many things by the click of a mouse.  We just have to be sure of our sources. I love learning about God and I find it very interesting and inspiring how some of the things that we do today are so rooted in early christianity and can be confirmed in Holy Scripture and Tradition.

I am leaving a few links here where I received my information.

No comments:

Dear Lord help us to educate our family for your glory.

"Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs."--Gravissimum Educationis (one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council)

Helping and Loving Our Neighbor

Corporal works of Mercy
Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Clothe the naked

Shelter the homeless

Visit the sick

Visit the imprisoned

Bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Admonish the sinner

Instruct the ignorant

Counsel the doubtful

Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently

Forgive all injuries

Pray for the living and the dead

Good Samaritain