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Tour of the New Mass


  The Mass is made up of two main parts:


the Liturgy of the Word;


the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The Entrance


Mass begins with the entrance of the Priest.  

On Sundays and Feast Days, an entrance hymn will be sung.

Otherwise, a short passage (usually from Scripture) is recited called the "Entrance Antiphon".


Being our greatest prayer, the Mass begins by making the Sign of the Cross

(the traditional way that Catholics "bless themselves" and begin and conclude "formal" prayers).

The Penitential Rite


The Priest greets the people and invites everyone to reflect briefly on their unworthiness and sinfulness to prepare for the celebration of the Mass.


The People may recite the "Confiteor":


I confess to Almighty God, and to you here present, that I have sinned through my own fault,

["mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa"]

in my thoughts and in my words,

in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.  

And I ask Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, all the Angels and Saints,

and you here present to pray for me to the Lord, our God.






Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.

We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you. we give you thanks for your great glory,

Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.


Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,

you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;

you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;

you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.


For you alone are the Holy Ome, you alone are the Lord, You alone are the Most High,

Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.





The Priest then leads the "Kyrie" -- "Lord have mercy", "Christ have mercy", "Lord have mercy" -- before giving a general absolution to prepare the People for reception of the Blessed Sacrament. (This does not apply to people in a state of Mortal Sin who must first receive absolution within the Sacrament of Penance before approaching the Blessed Sacrament.)


There is then an opening prayer recited by the Priest. The prayers and the various readings chosen for the particular Mass follow a particular "theme".

The Liturgy of the Word


First, a passage from the Old Testament, the Acts of the Apostles or the Book of Revelation is read.

This is followed either by the singing or recitation of one of the Psalms.  Usually a lector or cantor will recite or sing a verse, to which the People will respond with an antiphon from the Psalm.


Then, a passage from one of the Epistles (the New Testament "Letters") is read as the Second Reading.


At feria (weekday) Masses, only one reading and Psalm occurs.  At some Masses, additional readings are also given -- at the Easter Vigil, the most important Mass of the year, celebrating the Resurrection, there can be up to 15 readings!


The First and Second Readings and Psalm are usually read by lay people, most properly by Lectors, lay people who have been formally commissioned to read the Readings in their parish.


The Readings are then followed by the Gospel Acclamation -- a great "Alleluia!"  by the People welcoming the Word.  The People stand for the Gospel Acclamation and remain standing while a Priest or Deacon reads a passage from the Gospel.  On particularly special occasions, the Priest may chant the Gospel.


At the conclusion of the Gospel, the People sit to listen to the Priest's "Homily", a reflection on the various readings and their application to our lives.


Following the homily and a short time to reflect quietly on what Father has said, the People stand to recite the Nicene Creed.  Catholics, as do all Christians, recite together this formulation of our Faith:


I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth,

of all things visible and invisible.  

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only begotten Son of God,

born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light,

begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;

through him all things were made,

For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven,


At the words that follow, up to and including "and became man," all bow.


and by the Holy spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.  


For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate,

He suffered death and was buried,

and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

 He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

 He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead

and His kingdom will have no end.  

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.  

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.  

I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins

and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead

and the life of the world to come.  Amen.


Following the Creed, the People place the needs of the world before our Father in Heaven in the "General Intercessions" or "Prayers of the Faithful".  


A Lector will usually read a short intercession which the People make their own by responding, "Lord, Hear our Prayer".  


These prayers usually pray for the Pope and the Church, the Leaders of our Nation, for an increase in vocations to the priesthood, for those in difficulties, for the sick and infirm (especially those from the particular parish), for the dead.


This concludes the first part of the Mass.

The Offertory Rites


Some members of the congregation (quite often children or a family) then take up the "gifts":


the bread which will become the Body of Christ and

the Wine which will become His Blood.


This is also when the first Collection is taken.

The People are invited to give an offering which is forwarded to the Bishop or Archbishop to be used for the purposes of the Diocese.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist


The Priest receives these gifts and says a blessing over them, offering them to God, the work and fruit of our hands, highlighting the great mystery that God will take food and drink we have made and transform them into a Heavenly Meal, the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus.


After blessing the gifts, the Priest prays that God will cleanse him of all iniquity and symbolically washes his fingers which will touch the Lord.   


The People then pray that God will accept the Priest's Sacrifice "for the Praise and Glory of His Name, for our good and the good of all His Church".


The Mass has its beginning in the Last Supper when Our Lord first changed bread and wine into His Body and Blood.  But it also has its links in the great events of Good Friday.  Each Mass is a continuation and a re-offering of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary.  It takes the holocausts and burnt, bloody sacrifices of the Old Testament and transforms them into the Holy Sacrifice of the Lamb of God that redeemed all mankind.


After the Priest recites a short prayer of praise to God -- the "Preface" -- the People sing the Heavenly Chant of the "Sanctus" "with all the Angels and Saints":


Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of Power and Might,

Heaven and Earth are full of Your glory Hosanna in the Highest!  

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord Hosanna in the Highest!


The People then kneel in readiness for the moment when Jesus will become truly, physcically present on the altar.


The Priest begins to pray a great prayer of thanksgiving and supplication to God called the

"Eucharistic Prayer".  There are a number of Eucharistic Prayers for the Priest to choose from:


  • The First Eucharistic Prayer is a translation of the Canon.  The Canon was the only Eucharistic Prayer that was said in the Latin Rite from the time of the Counter-Reformation until Vatican II.  It is rich in the history of the People of God, it calls on our Jewish heritage, it reminds us of our Heavenly goal, it calls on each of the Apostles and the Saints and the Martyrs of the Early Church, each by name, to intercede for us. 

  • The Second Eucharistic Prayer (one of the new ones introduced by Pope Paul VI after Vatican II) is based on the Eucharistic Prayers in use in the very early Church.  It is beautiful in its simplicity and many appreciate how it links us to the prayer of the early Church.  Many also appreciate that it is so much shorter than the others!  (It is certainly the most often used, the "default" Eucharistic Prayer).

  • The Third Eucharistic Prayer draws greatly on the liturgical traditions and imagery of the Eastern Church.

  • There is also a Fourth Eucharistic Prayer and a number written especially for Masses with Children.


The common elements of the Eucharistic Prayers are:


  • The Consecration -- the moment when the Priest transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord by repeating the words of consecration:

  • This is my Body (hic est enim corpus meum)This is the cup of my Blood (hoc est calix sanguinis meus)

  • Prayer for the Church

  • Prayer for the Pope, the local Ordinary (Bishop), all priests and all the Faithful

  • Prayer for the Faithful Departed (those Faithful who have died)

  • Invocation of the Blessed Virgin, the Apostles and the Saints

  • Finally, the Doxology of Praise by the Priest followed by the People's "Great Amen":Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour are Yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever.  Amen.

  • The People then stand to say the Lord's Prayer together and to share the Kiss of Peace with each other (usually a handshake or a nod of the head!)



The Priest then breaks the Body of Christ while the People pray,


"Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us."

(Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis).


The Priest then invites us again to acknowledge our unworthiness in the "Domine, non sum dignus":


"Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word, and I shall be healed."


The Priest then eats and drinks the Body and Blood of the Lord before proceeding to distribute the Sacrament to each of the People in turn who wish and are able to receive communion.


This is the great pinnacle of the Mass, of the Christian Life, of the Church, the moment when Jesus, truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, enters into our very being, our bodies and souls, making us one together with Him and with each other, cleaving us to His Mystical Body, the Church.


Needless to say, a few moments' quiet refletion and then a song of great joy and praise follow this blessed moment!


At this stage, a second collection is usually taken. The proceeds of this collection are for the needs of the parish (maintenance of the Church buildings, paying for the electricity, funds for the Parish School, etc.) and to provide for the priests.


After consuming any remaining Precious Blood and placing any remaining hosts in the Tabernacle, the Priest cleans and purifies the sacred vessels and then sits quietly for a time in reflection and thanksgiving.

The Concluding Rites


Finally, the Priest blesses the People and "dismisses" them "The Mass is ended!  Go in Peace to love and serve the Lord!"  He sends us out into the World to take Christ with us in our hearts and make Him known to whoever we meet.  The Priest then proceeds out of the Church while the People sing a final hymn.

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