August 5, 2018
GATHER THE PEOPLE
I have heard the Mass described as, “Gather the people. Tell the stories. Break the bread.” Not a bad summary of what the Mass is all about. As we go through the Mass over these six weeks, we will begin with the beginning–the gathering of the people.
Please remember that the Second Vatican Council called for all of the faithful to be able to fully, actively and consciously participate in the liturgy and stated that this full, active and conscious participation is required if we are to truly enter into the Mass and receive the whole benefit that it provides. Recall also the four ways in which Christ is present in each Mass—in the assembly, in the priest, who acts in persona Christi, in the Word, and in the Eucharistic elements.
The Mass begins with the Introductory Rites. These are also called the Gathering Rites, or the Preparatory Rites. They are intended to gather us and to prepare us for that full, active and conscious participation in the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. I will be addressing each of these this Sunday.
These Introductory Rites include: 1) The Entrance Procession/Entrance Song, 2) The Greeting, 3) the Penitential Rite, 4) the Gloria, and the Opening Prayer (or Collect). Each has the responsibility to gather us from a bunch of individuals into a community and to prepare our hearts for full, active and conscious participation in the Liturgy of the Word and of the Eucharist.
I will probably wear out the phrase “full, active and conscious participation” over the next few weeks. That is by design. Although I told you last week that the Mass is not something that we do, but is something that Christ does, I also told you that we participate in this work of Christ. (The Greek word liturgia, which we translate as liturgy, means “work.”) This takes work on our part, if we are to participate in a way that we find transformative, healing, and uplifting. No one who fully, actively, and consciously participates in the Mass will ever say, “The Mass is boring. I don’t get anything out of it.”
Fr. Mike Comer