14/8/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part XV: The Communion Rite

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 the Eucharistic Prayer, we enter into our celebration of the Communion Rite.

This begins with the Lord’s Prayer, the words that Christ himself gave us.  Amongst the petitions this prayer makes, we ask God to give us our daily bread, just as we are about to receive the bread that has become the body of Christ.

Following the Lord’s Prayer is the Rite of Peace.  Just as we are about to partake in the communion which binds us together as one body in Christ, we are reminded in this profound symbol of our unity as the people of God in this community.  The profound impact of this symbolic ritual comes when we truly commit ourselves to sharing a sign of peace to all those around us – not just those people who we consider to be our friends.  The peace that only Christ can give is offered to all, and the true challenge of the Christian life is to pray that this peace is experienced by all we encounter.

The FractionAfter the Rite of Peace is the Fraction (or the Breaking of the Bread).  Just as the bread of the last supper was blessed, broken and shared, so too is the consecrated bread and wine that is given to us as a gift.  Even though we (and most other parishes) use individual hosts for the sake of practicality, these should be shared out into the patens that are to be used, and a large host should be consecrated that can be broken up and shared amongst some of the gathered assembly.

Although it happens in many parishes, the Fraction Rite is not a time to be filling patens with hosts taken from the tabernacle.  In fact, the Missal and its introduction (the General Instruction of the Roman Missal) do not make any mention of going to the tabernacle before communion.  Rather, the General Instruction makes clear that the communion we receive should have been consecrated at that Mass.

It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice, so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal, article 85

4/5/08 – A Week to Go

With this being the celebration of the Ascension of Jesus, we look forward to next weekend’s celebration of Pentecost.  Over these two weeks we remember Jesus’ returning to the Father, and the fulfilment of the promise made in last Sunday’s Gospel.  That is, the promise to send another Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with us forever.

Pentecost Sunday this year also brings with it some small changes to our celebration of Mass.  We have explored and explained these here over the weeks of the Easter Season.

I encourage you to read the leaflet attached to this week’s Carmel from the Australian Bishops’ Committee for Liturgy.  It again outlines the two minor changes that will take place for the assembly starting next week.

Thank you also to the Communion Ministers who stayed behind after Masses last Sunday to be briefed on the requirements for their ministry.  It is through ministers such as these exercising their liturgical roles and their leadership, together with the cooperation of all the community, that will make these changes very easy for us to get used to.

27/4/08 – A Clearer Definition

Hopefully by now you’re aware of the two small changes that will affect the liturgical assembly in the celebration of Mass.  The bow of reverence when coming to receive Communion comes into effect from Pentecost Sunday.  The standing immediately after the priest’s invitation to prayer after preparing the gifts comes into effect as well.

The revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal, like its predecessor, also gives directions for specific liturgical ministers.  These include the Priest, the Deacon, the instituted Acolyte, the instituted Lector, as well as other lay Ministers of the Word, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and Music Ministers.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are one group whose role is the focus of greater attention in this revised General Instruction.  In some parishes, such as ours, it will mean that some practices the Communion Ministers currently engage in will have to change.  We are briefing these ministers after Masses this weekend about the specifics of their role.

Some Communion Ministers may ask why what they do needs to change.  In fact, the General Instruction has not made any changes to the role of the Communion Minister.  The former edition, published in the 1970’s, made very little mention of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and therefore did little to define their role and explain what they can and should do.  In preparing this revised edition, the Church has sought to more clearly define the role and actions of the Communion Minister, given their marked increase of need in places such as ours since the 1970’s.

The revised General Instruction consequently defines more clearly the role of all during the Communion Rite; the Priest, the Deacon, the Acolyte, the Altar Servers, and the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion whose valuable service is required whenever there are not enough of the other ministers available to minister Communion to us, the liturgical assembly.

20/4/08 – Take a Bow

As we approach Pentecost Sunday, and the implementation of a new edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, we have been looking at the some the small changes this new General Instruction will make to the celebration of Mass.

The first change for the assembly we explored last week; namely the assembly’s standing after the priest says “Pray, my brothers and sisters, that our sacrifice…” and before our response “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands…”

There is only one other change that will be required of the entire liturgical assembly.  This centres on the way we give reverence to the Blessed Sacrament as we approach to receive Communion.

At present, you may see people make one of a number of signs of reverence.  These may include genuflecting, bowing, or making the sign of the cross.  A sign of reverence to acknowledge Christ present in the bread and wine is a worthy practice.  The new edition of the General Instruction asks that we, as a people formed into one Body of Christ when we worship, unify our practice in a common gesture.

Therefore, we are being asked to bow to the Blessed Sacrament being ministered to us by the priest or Communion Minister.  In Wentworthville, the most appropriate and practical time for us to bow is when we reach the front of the aisle and the person before us is receiving Communion.  You do not need to bow a second time if you wish to receive Communion from the chalice as well.

Like our changed practice of standing after the Preparation of the Gifts, this change is an easy one that will soon become habit.  We explain both these changes to you at Masses closer to Pentecost Sunday, when they will take effect.

13/4/08 – Everybody Stand Up

Those of you who have been reading this column since Easter will now be aware that there are some small changes occurring in the celebration of Mass from Pentecost Sunday.  In fact, there are only two changes that will affect the entire assembly; both have to do with our posture during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

After the gifts are prepared during Mass, the priest invites us to pray by saying:

Pray, my brothers and sisters, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God the almighty Father.

We then respond with “May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands…”, and stand for the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer.

Starting from Pentecost Sunday, we will need to stand before we make this response.

Why?  We will now stand before we respond because the priest is inviting us to pray, and the Church always stands or kneels when it prays during Mass.  Our posture of standing or kneeling says something about our relationship with God.  When we stand at this time, we show our importance for the Eucharistic Prayer; the most important prayer of the Mass.

When we stand, we not only show how important the prayer is, but that we are ready, with the priest, to pray this prayer.  Our affirmative response to the priest’s invitation to pray allows him to proceed with the celebration of the Eucharist.

On the Sunday before Pentecost, we will remind you of this and the other change that will occur.  As you can see, the first change is simple; we’re just standing one sentence sooner.