6/2/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part I

During the course of this year, we will gradually begin to use the texts of the revised translation of the Roman Missal.  This is not just a time when we need to learn new words, but will hopefully be an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the Mass.  Here we will take a closer look at what happens at Mass.

Obviously, before Mass begins, we have to come to the church.  Some people arrive quite early and prepare for Mass by taking time to pray, perhaps moving around the church for a time to pray before the images of saints and perhaps to pray before the Blessed Sacrament at the tabernacle.  Others arrive closer to starting time.  In any case, there should be some time for silent prayer before Mass.  What Fr Paul has encouraged us to do in recent months is not simply a matter of personal preference.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (no. 45) states that:

Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.

To arrive even a short time before Mass and engage in some silent prayer helps all of us to prepare for fulfilling our role as participants in the Eucharistic celebration.  It is an important role which requires the focus and attention of us all from beginning to end.

As such, arriving on time for Mass is very important.  There can be an unexpected situation that causes someone to be late on a rare occasion.  To be regularly late, however, means that you’re not ready and able to fulfil your role as a member of the liturgical assembly.  For better or worse, the concept of being “fashionably late” doesn’t apply to Mass!

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