At Mass, we come together and are welcomed as a community. Jesus told us that we should not come to the altar if we have a quarrel with our neighbour and so we begin by seeking forgiveness for our sins before praising God in the Gloria. The Opening Prayer introduces the theme of the liturgy and we then listen to the Word of God in scripture, the Gospel or ‘Good News’ and hear it explained to us. Fed by the Word, we declare our faith and make prayers of intercession before bringing bread and wine to the altar along with the collection – symbols of the gifts we receive from the earth and the gifts or talents with which we ourselves are blessed by God’s Holy Spirit and which we offer back to God. Having prayed over the gifts, we come to what the Church describes as “the source and summit of the Christian life” – the Eucharistic Prayer where we recall Christ’s death and resurrection and, in the hands of the priest, the Body and Blood of Christ become present in bread and wine. After the great doxology of “Through Him, with Him, in Him…..” we pray the unifying prayer that Jesus gave his followers – the “Our Father”; to emphasise that we have been healed of sin and re-united with our neighbours we share a sign of peace before partaking in Communion – literally coming together to recall Jesus’ death and resurrection as he instructed the disciples at the Last Supper. The Eucharist may be the “source and summit” but it is difficult to live on the top of a mountain and so, after reflecting on the Eucharistic sacrifice, we are sent out in peace to love and serve the Lord. Alleluia!
The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have published a lay person’s guide to the Church’s General Instruction on the Roman Missal – how the Mass is to be celebrated. It can be accessed here.