About the Holy Mass – Part 3 – Liturgy of the Eucharist

continued from Part 1 – Introductory Rites and Part 2 – Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Eucharist

Catechism of the Catholic Church – 1324

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”

“The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist, or “the breaking of bread” is the highlight of our week.  It is a most reverent time, and we pay it the utmost respect.  After the Liturgy of the Word, an offering is collected and brought to the front with the bread and wine.

The priest receives and says a prayer over the offerings, then takes the bread and says:  “Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life”. The congregation responds:  ” Blessed be God for ever”.

“Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.  Blessed be God for ever.  The priest then follows a tradition from the first church and adds a drop of water to the wine to symbolize the union of Christ’s divinity and humanity, and of Christ with His Church.  At this time, the priest washes his hands and says; “Lord, wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sins.”

We stand as the priest says:  Pray, my brothers and sisters, that our sacrifice
may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.  And we respond:  “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his holy Church”.

The priest now says a Eucharistic prayer, then addresses the congregation for dialogue:


Priest:  The Lord be with you.    Congregation responds:  And with your spirit.
Priest:  Lift up your hearts.  Congregation responds:   We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest:  Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.    Congregation responds:  It is right and just

Together we all say:  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.

Then we kneel and sing the Memorial:  When we eat this bread, and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Oh Lord, until you come again.

The Priest then gives the “doxology” which is:  “Through him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.  And the congregation sings the “Amen”

After the Doxology, everyone prays the Lord’s prayer together.  It is beautiful to follow the instructions for how to pray, by our Lord, and to hear and participate in it together.  Another example of the unity that Jesus prayed his followers would have with Him and one another.

Following the Lord’s prayer, we are encouraged to give one another the sign of peace.  Couples hug or kiss, and say “peace be with you”, parishioners shake hands with those around, or wave to one another while saying “peace be with you”.  I love that we offer one another peace, before we sing “Lamb of God”.  It’s a beautiful show of unity prior to partaking together.

Lamb of God you take away the sin of the world.  Have mercy on us.  Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.  Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world.  Receive our prayer.”

Now row by row is dismissed to receive the Eucharist, or “Communion”.  We walk forward while a hymn is being sung, and we receive the body and blood of our Lord.  If you are not in communion with the Catholic Church, you can still go forward for a blessing, but you may not receive the Eucharist.  Cross your arms in front of your chest, and the priest will know that you are not Catholic, that you do not receive the Eucharist, and he will instead give you a word of blessing with the sign of the cross on your forehead.  If you don’t wish to receive that blessing, it is an option for you to just remain quietly seated until the Eucharist has been distributed.  At that time, the priest says a prayer, makes announcements, and offers a blessing over the congregation before dismissal.  I love how the priest in my parish does this.  He says “bow for the blessing”, and while heads are bowed, he offers some of the sweetest most encouraging words to see us through our week.

When he is finished, the Deacon says “This Mass is ended.  Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” and everyone says “Thanks be to God” and exits their seats.  Again, bowing to the altar/tabernacle as a sign of reverence, and crossing ourselves.  When we exit the building, we again remind ourselves of our baptism by dipping our finger in the holy water and crossing ourselves, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 

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Learning to Pray the Rosary – Hail Mary

After the sign of the cross and the Apostles’ Creed, we come to the “Our Father” bead on our rosary.  I have recently done a series of posts on the Lord’s Prayer that you can read here, here, here, and here; so I’ll move to the first series of the “Hail Mary” prayer.  These are repeated three times along with the request of an increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and love, then again on the ten beads of each decade.

hail maryHail Mary…Ave Maria

I love the greeting, don’t you?  The salutation in this little prayer is the same that the angel Gabriel addressed Mary with when he appeared to her (Luke 1:28) at the Annunciation.  Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.  As near as I can tell, the word “Hail” is a word of greeting, like hello, but with a more respectful tone.  It says in this passage that she is troubled by these words, and wondered about this salutation to her.  I can only guess that it is her humility that wonders “why is He addressing me…a simple girl…with such a respectful greeting?” 

The only other places I could find where it’s used in the Bible is when Judas addresses Christ before betraying Him with a kiss (Matt 26:49, Mark 14:45); when the crowds mocked him in the accounts of His being mocked by the crowds (Matthew 27:29, Mark 15:18, John 19:3); and in his own greeting to the women at His tomb after the resurrection (Matthew 28:9).

Full of grace

I love that the angel Gabriel addresses her this way.  Before she has conceived the Son of God in her own body, she is told that she is “full of grace”.  Some translations say “highly favored one”…but I think “full of grace” is so much richer and deeper than just being highly favored.  As a new Catholic, this phrase holds the key to understanding Mary and her role on this earth.  She was “highly favored”, or “full of grace”, even before she said yes to God.  Isn’t that amazing?  I think that insight has helped me more than anything to fully grasp the Church’s teaching of her Marian doctrines.  She was endowed with a special grace that has not been seen elsewhere in Christ’s followers.  The early Church Fathers very matter-of-factually taught that Mary was the “new Eve”, preserved from original sin, and kept pure for the sake of her destiny.  You can read more, including quotes from the early Church Fathers here.

The Lord is with thee—blessed art thou among women

Again…all this affirmation of grace…God with her…blessings, before she even says yes.  I can’t get over it, for me it’s such an epiphany of proof of her being set apart for this specific purpose.  Where the first Eve tied the knots of sin and bondage, Mary, our new Eve, unties them because of the graces given to her to say “yes” to God and His wonderful plan of salvation.  She recognizes it herself when she affirms that all generations will call me blessed.  Reminds me very much of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31.  “Her children arise and call her blessed”.  Mary, the ultimate Proverbs 31 woman!

…blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus

This line is taken from Elizabeth’s reaction to Mary’s presence, and the wonderful miracle that she was given insight into.  When Mary visited her cousin, the Bible tells us that Elizabeth’s own baby (John the Baptist…Christ’s forerunner)  inside her womb “leaped for joy”.  This is the only instance I can find of one being filled with the Spirit in-utero.  Elizabeth recognizes the beautiful, miraculous thing that is happening inside her own belly is in direct response to the wonderful thing that God is doing in her cousin.

Holy Mary, mother of God

Since we know that Jesus is God in the flesh, then Mary, being the mother of Jesus, is the mother of God.

…pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death

When Jesus was on the cross, he said to Mary, “…behold, your son”, and to John, “…behold your mother”.  In effect he was giving them to one another, to love, cherish, and provide for.  I have no doubt in my mind that Mary loved her Son’s followers, after her loss, as her own children.  And as followers of Christ, she is given to us as our own mother as well.  My mother here on earth loved her children deeply, and she took in our friends as her own, loving, nurturing, and praying for them as if they were her own.  I love the thought of my mother, Mary, knowing my needy sinful state, taking me as her own, loving me, and praying for me, now, and through my life, and at the hour of my death.

Gratitude

November is sneaking up on us, and while I’m watching October slip away, I am being reminded almost daily of our need for gratitude.  It’s funny how God’s word dovetails with the circumstances in which I find myself in my daily walk with Him.  I’m working my way through putting Colossians 3 to memory, at the same time, collecting Scriptures, memes, and images that fit my chosen theme for November on my facebook page.

Gratitude.

Gratitude is different than being thankful, though they are related.  Gratitude is the deep down feeling that comes with being thankful.  In other words, thankfulness is a state of being (or even doing, if it’s verbal).  Gratitude is the quality or feeling that comes when we are in that state.

When my kids were younger, they would often complain that they didn’t “feel like” (fill in the blank with any number of instructions they were given to accomplish…)  My response in their training was to remind them that the “feeling” part is not necessary for obedience, but God often rewards our obedience with the “want to” after we have submitted to Him.  In other words, “though you may not “feel like” getting up and cleaning your room, (or honoring your mother), you must resolve to do it out of obedience nonetheless.”  Often, in the middle of their obedience, there came a sense of peace…even joy, or a feeling of satisfaction in doing so.  That’s what I’m talking about here.

We are instructed to be thankful.  Now, I may be the only one who still waits for the “feeling” before offering thanks, but I have to remember the words the Lord spoke through me to my children.  “Feeling” is not the command.  It’s the “doing”.  It’s a matter of willing myself to obey.

Do a search on Bible Gateway (or your favorite Bible program) for “give thanks”  Seems to me, a fairly even split between being instructed or commanded to “be thankful” and the obedient “I will” decision to be so.  That’s because being thankful is a matter of the will.   It is a choice.

Psalms is full of thanksgiving being tied to worship.  Praise, song, joyful noises, and blessing flow from the act of giving thanks.  It brings GLORY to God.

In Philippians, giving thanks is the antidote to worry.

In Colossians, it accompanies wisdom, enables us to teach and encourage on another, and keeps us alert and in our devotion to prayer.  I find it interesting that in the very chapter I’m memorizing right now, it is also tied to “WHATEVER I do…everything I say, everything I do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus….giving thanks to God the Father through Him.   (Psalm 95:2, Psalm 100:4, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 3:16,17, Colossians 4:2) 

Join me at New Things’ facebook page for a month of reminders and scriptures on gratitude and thanksgiving, starting November 1.

Beneath the Cross of Jesus

My love for hymns is genetic, I think.  I can remember my dad expressing love for certain ones, and singing at the top of his lungs, those he especially held dear.  Momma was always humming or whistling a tune, and most often, it was a hymn.  Somewhere along the way, the words made their way into my subconscious, and have visited me this morning in this beautiful hymn.

I woke up with this song in my head.  I don’t remember dreaming of it, or thinking about it yesterday, but this morning, there it was, playing in my brain, and the words, that I didn’t know I knew, impressing on my heart.

God knows I love word pictures…and he gave me several today, you can know I’ll be busy scribbling them down in my journal and meditating some more on them.

“…the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land…”

“…a home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way…”

“I take, O cross, thy shadow, for my abiding place; I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face…”

“…my sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross”

As I continue to think about these images, there is a strange convergence of Scripture happening in my wee brain.  Some of these images are familiar, and I saw them on Highway 95 nearly three years ago. 

…dwelling in the secret place, abiding in the shadow of the Almighty

…making the Lord my refuge…dwelling in Him…how do we do that?  The cross of course!

The scourging…

Yesterday, I posted the following on New Things’ fb page.

Having my morning cuppa coffee and meditating on a passage in this morning’s prayer at http://www.universalis.com/.

Come, let us worship and bow down,
bend the knee before the Lord who made us;
for he himself is our God and we are his flock,
the sheep that follow his hand.

One thing I have learned in this journey into the Catholic Church, is the practice of bowing/kneeling before the altar/tabernacle. We do this before we seat ourselves at Mass, as a sign of reverence and respect to the the Lord, who is present with us. Since He is always with us, it is a beautiful reminder of my place before Him. The Word of God says that every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord. I’m just practicing up for the big event. 🙂

It does make me wonder though, why is it easy for us to confess that He is Lord, and so difficult to bow before Him?

After posting this, I prayed the Rosary while puttering around in my kitchen, doing dishes, scrubbing the floor, etc.  I love to be able to follow along with a recorded production, it helps my brain stay on track.

This particular rosary has little meditations before each Hail Mary, and when it got to the part about the scourging of Jesus, there was a phrase spoken, that though I’ve heard many times before, hit me in a whole new way:  “Then they genuflected before Him and pretended to pay Him homage”

Immediately, in my mind’s eye, I saw people walking into Mass.  Kneeling to the Tabernacle where Jesus is, bowing to His altar before being seated.  Making the sign of His cross over their bodies.   I saw the hypocrisy and pretension of one who comes in, kneels, and participates in the Mass, all the while holding a viewpoint or belief contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church, continuing in the sin that He came to die for.  While Jesus is present, offering His broken body for us, there are those who kneel and pretend.  And He stands there, receiving the mocking and scourging of the world, in the same way He did 2000 years ago.

While there are those who struggle to bend their knee to Christ, there is another extreme that will “go through the motions” while having their heart far from Him.  May it never be said of me, Lord.  Have mercy.  Make me genuine in my faith and love for you.  Keep my heart clean and sensitive to obedience of what You call me to do.  In Jesus’ Name.

A word of advice

So, you’ve decided to follow Jesus.  This is my best advice for you in your new decision, specifically the bold text:

Sirach, chapter 2

My child, when you come to serve the Lord,
    prepare yourself for testing.
Set your heart right and be steadfast,
    and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.
Cling to him and do not depart,
    so that your last days may be prosperous.
Accept whatever befalls you,
    and in times of humiliation be patient.
For gold is tested in the fire,
    and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation.[b]
Trust in him, and he will help you;
    make your ways straight, and hope in him.

You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy;
    do not stray, or else you may fall.
You who fear the Lord, trust in him,
    and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things,
    for lasting joy and mercy.[c]
10 Consider the generations of old and see:
    has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?
Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord[d] and been forsaken?
    Or has anyone called upon him and been neglected?
11 For the Lord is compassionate and merciful;
    he forgives sins and saves in time of distress.

12 Woe to timid hearts and to slack hands,
    and to the sinner who walks a double path!
13 Woe to the fainthearted who have no trust!
    Therefore they will have no shelter.
14 Woe to you who have lost your nerve!
    What will you do when the Lord’s reckoning comes?

15 Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his words,
    and those who love him keep his ways.
16 Those who fear the Lord seek to please him,
    and those who love him are filled with his law.
17 Those who fear the Lord prepare their hearts,
    and humble themselves before him.
18 Let us fall into the hands of the Lord,
    but not into the hands of mortals;
for equal to his majesty is his mercy,
    and equal to his name are his works.

Growing up Protestant, and learning to hide God’s Word in my heart, my favorite books of the Bible were always a close tie between Proverbs and James, I think because of their down to earth, practical teaching and the word pictures that are created in their words of wisdom and encouragement.

When we became Catholic, I was introduced to more books of the Bible that I had never heard of.  Sirach has now made my favorites list a three way tie.  I cannot say enough about this beautiful book full of priceless treasures.

When we moved to Canada, and found it not to be exactly as we had imagined it would be, God gave me Sirach, chapter two.  It was so relevant for me, explaining perfectly what was happening, and encouraging me to stand firm and remain calm.  I find myself returning to this advice as I continue on this path on which the Lord accompanies us.  It is like a soft whisper in my ear…that still, small voice if you will.

Of course, this is much different than many television “evangelists” would preach.  But that, my peeps, is another post entirely.

Blessings.

Spiritual discipline

Hebrews 12:5  “My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him;  for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.”

I am feeling very accepted this evening.

Have you ever received a Holy Spirit whoopin’?  I did tonight.

Upon receiving word from my sister about an acquaintance being declared “cancer free” after a few months of treatment, I responded with the usual “that’s wonderful!  Praise God, Wow!” then proceeded to think out loud that someday I will question God on how He figures out these healing decisions.  Not that I wish anyone harm, but…you know…you’ve asked this one, right?  Anyway, right in mid-sentence, before I got to the part about our prayer for my Momma’s healing, the phone went dead.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have a very active imagination, combined with a very sensitive guilt complex, so of course, my first thought was that I was on speaker phone with the acquaintance present on the other end.  And of course, my sister hung up immediately to protect the acquaintance from being hurt any further.  I was in tears, repenting of my hasty words that may have wounded someone who desperately needs mercy.  The fact that my sister did not answer my calls or texts served to further cement in my spirit that I was a creep.

Eventually, I did get a response from my sister…laughing at me.  Her signal dropped at such a critical time, I was not on speaker phone, nor was that acquaintance present.  I had not hurt anyone, and God used it as an opportunity to discipline me and teach me a very valuable lesson.  I am not God.  I do not know what He is doing in this life of this person, and all of His ways are so much higher than mine.  He also lovingly reminded me that I am His child.  He will not allow me to continue in my ignorance and presumption with Him.  Check out the rest of this passage:

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness.

The whole point of being disciplined by God is for our good, so that we can live and share in His holiness.  Do you get that?  We are in the process of becoming holy…and one of the means of accomplishing this in us, according to this passage, is by discipline.

11 Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.   12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

This evening while talking to a dear friend about my journey, I remarked that I identify with the wandering lamb whose leg had to be broken for its own protection.  I have to believe that that lamb has a much different relationship with the shepherd than the other “healthy” sheep.  That lamb, though she is isolated from the others, gets to stay snuggled next to the Shepherd.  She is often carried close to His heart, and can hear His gentle words so clearly as they walk together.  I am waiting for the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  I want strong arms and legs.  I’m learning to make straight paths for my feet, while my injuries heal.  And I can hear the words of my Savior, speaking sweet consolation to my spirit.  Tenderly He binds up the broken limbs;  Lovingly he instructs and  challenges me to walk again;  Gently he leads;  Patiently He waits, and continues to pray for me.

He is good.