8 Things you may not know about the Mass

There are probably a number of things about the Ordinary form of the Mass that you take for granted. Tim explains some of them here!

Mass in the Wadi El Kelt desert
Mass in the Wadi El Kelt desert

1. “The Lord be with you”

The principal celebrant at the beginning and end of each Mass proclaims this message to the faithful for two main reasons. Firstly, this was used during the times of the early Christian Church amongst the brethren of the day, when they would meet and gather for prayer and for the breaking of bread. It is an ancient tradition which the Catholic Church keeps most notably at the beginning and end of each Mass. Secondly, it is a public proclamation that the Lord has risen and is amongst us. Helping the faithful to prepare their hearts and minds for the celebration of the Eucharist in which they partake, share and offer.

2. Venerating the Altar

The Cardinal and Bishop venerating the Altar at the beginning of Mass
The Cardinal and Bishop venerating the Altar at the beginning of Mass

At the beginning and the end of Mass, the priest embraces, venerates and kisses the altar. In the Mass, the altar is a permanent symbol of the risen Christ and should be the main focus of the Mass as this is where the Holy Sacrifice will be celebrated.

3. Penitential Rite

The focus here should always be about what God through Christ has accomplished for us. For example, YOU were sent to heal the contrite of heart: Lord have mercy; YOU came to call sinners: Christ have mercy; YOU are seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us: Lord have mercy.

4. The Alleluia

During the proclamation of the Gospel, the Alleluia is to be sung; if not sung then it may be omitted.

5. The Gospel

All the faithful are to physically turn and face the Gospel, the living Word of God as it is to be proclaimed.

6. Profession of Faith

During the Profession of Faith, during the words ‘By the power of the Holy Spirit’ the priest and faithful are expected to show their reverence during the memory of God becoming man in Christ Jesus by the bowing of the body or in a profound manner.

7. Receiving Communion

When coming up in procession to receive the body and blood of Christ, the faithful, if received standing, should make a gesture of reverence beforehand by either bowing or genuflecting.

8. The Dismissal

"Go, the Mass has ended!"
“Go, the Mass has ended!”

The faithful respond “Thanks be to God” after the celebrant says “Go, the Mass the ended” because we have been blessed to be called to the supper of the Lord, to have celebrated and partaken in the sacred mysteries – the death and resurrection of our Lord and to be nourished by his most holy body and blood. The command by the celebrant to “Go” echoes that of Jesus’- the command to “Go and proclaim the good news to ends of the world” as faithful missionary disciples, a vocation that all Christians are called to as Pope Francis constantly reminds us.