Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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16/10/11 – “The people rise and reply”

Recently we have been looking at the postures and gestures that we engage in during Mass.  Each is intended to help us direct our minds and hearts more intently towards what we are celebrating.

A few years ago now, a new edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal was introduced.  When it was implemented, it required us to make two changes to our practice as a liturgical assembly during the Mass.  One of these involved our posture after the priest has prepared the gifts of bread and wine.

After the priest prepares the gifts, he invites the assembly to pray.  Although it seems to be a routine action, this invitation is not without its significance.  The priest invites us to pray.  Our affirmative response makes clear our wish that the priest continue to lead us through the Eucharistic Prayer and the rest of the Mass.

Nowadays, we are required to stand immediately after the priest says “Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.”    For many people, it seemed to be far more practical to do as we did previously, and stand after we responded to the priest’s invitation.

To stand immediately after the invitation, and then respond, makes our posture more consistent with other times of the Mass.  Standing is generally the posture the Church adopts when it prays.  While we also kneel at times, the Church does not pray sitting down – at least not during its liturgical celebrations.  We stand because we accept the invitation to prayer and now pray together once again as the body of Christ; this time in certain hope that Christ that is present within each of us will make himself present to us once more through the bread and wine that become his body and blood.

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10/7/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part XII: The Preface

The introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal is not just a chance to learn new words, but will hopefully be an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the Mass.

After the Prayer Over the Offerings, we enter into the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer.  As I touched on last week, this always begins with three-fold dialogue between the priest and the people:

            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 our God.           It is right and just.

The priest greets us, and invites us to join him in the Eucharistic Prayer.  Our desire to share in the Eucharistic Prayer and sacrifice, as indicated by our response “it is right and just”, must be expressed so that the priest may continue with the Mass.  After all, the Mass is not the work of Christ and the priest, but of Christ and his Church – all of us incorporated into Christ through baptism.

Bishop Anthony Fisher leading the PrefaceWhile there are only a relatively small number of options for the Eucharistic Prayer, with some only permissible on specific occasions, there is a larger collection of prefaces.  The Preface leads us into the Eucharistic Prayer by declaring to God (and at the same time reminding ourselves) the reason we celebrate the Eucharist at this particular time.  On most days, they typically reflect the liturgical season we celebrate.  There are, however, also prefaces for particular feast days, for saints, for the dead, and for a range of other needs and occasions.

The Preface then concludes with our prayer of acclamation, the Sanctus (or Holy, Holy).  In the new translation of the Sanctus, the opening phrase has changed from “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might” to “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts.”  This, like other changes, reflects a closer match with the Latin text.  It also reflects what the priest proclaims immediately before; that what we do in celebrating the Eucharist is not done alone, but in communion with the angels and saints – the entire “heavenly host”.