Some people are really eager to leave Mass quickly.
It’s hardly surprising. If the Mass is celebrated well, and if we are able to participate fully, consciously and actively during it, then we will be so inspired by the word proclaimed in the Scriptures, and so deeply nourished by Christ’s own body and blood in the Eucharist, that we can’t help wanting to leave.
The Concluding Rites of the Mass are very short, but very important. The Priest blesses us and tells us to go. It’s not, however, a “hurry up and get going, because I have to lock the church and the football’s on TV.” The words of the dismissal are clear. We are sent forth to carry out the mission of Jesus. The Mass strengthens us in our ability to do this, week in, week out. The Priest then leads us out of the church to go eagerly and joyfully to do this work.
Although a hymn is often sung here, the Missal doesn’t even suggest one. The Missal’s final directions regarding the end of Mass are:
Then the Priest venerates the altar as usual with a kiss, as at the beginning. After making a profound bow with the ministers, he withdraws. (Roman Missal, Order of Mass, no. 145)
The intention is that we follow the Priest’s directions and go immediately to be the Body of Christ to others. While a hymn may be appropriate on some occasions, it is certainly not essential or expected.
That doesn’t mean, however, that people shouldn’t stay behind to pray, or to have a cup of tea or coffee and chat with friends and parishioners after Mass. This is a very immediate way of putting the words of the dismissal into practice, sustaining our faith outside the Mass through personal prayer and displaying Christian charity. That same charity may also move us to do specific things to care for others who require our help, such as driving home other parishioners who cannot get themselves to Mass, or taking Communion to the Sick.
So if you are eager to leave Mass as soon as it’s finished, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just make sure you let the procession go first, to lead us in continuing to live out Christ’s mission. After all, this is why you’re leaving quickly, isn’t it? It surely has nothing to do with trying to get out of the car park first!
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 communion, all in the assembly are invited to engage in silent prayer, or a thanksgiving hymn can be sung. The Liturgy of the Eucharist then concludes with the Prayer After Communion. The Concluding Rites then bring our celebration of the Mass to a close, sending us forth to proclaim the gospel to the world.
The Concluding Rites of the Mass typically include a blessing and a dismissal of the people. The dismissal contains some new forms which previously did not exist. Before the latest edition of the missal, the Latin edition had only one dismissal, “Ite, missa est.” In the new translation, this is conveyed in English as “Go forth, the Mass is ended.” The current translation guidelines, which insist on a word-for-word translation, would have resulted in this one form of the dismissal being included in the new English edition.
In 2008, three new options for the dismissal were added to the Latin edition of the Missal. This was one recommendation from the 2005 Synod held in Rome for the Year of the Eucharist. The desire of the synod bishops was to communicate more clearly the fact that we are sent forth from the Eucharist to be Christ to the world. These were added to the Latin edition, and subsequently translated into English for our new edition of the missal. The four forms for the dismissal are now:
Go forth, the Mass is ended. Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord. Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life. Go in peace.
And then, motivated by the word, and nourished again by the Body and Blood of Christ, we can boldly and courageously move out into the world, responding fervently with the words, “Thanks be to God.”