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

2/3/08 – The Presentations

In addition to the scrutinies, our elect Mechelle celebrates engages in liturgical celebrations where she is presented with the creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

The presentations take place after the celebration of the scrutinies… Thus, with the catechumenal formation of the elect completed, the Church lovingly entrusts to them the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, the ancient texts that have always been regarded as expressing the heart of the Church’s faith and prayer. These texts are presented in order to enlighten the elect.

(Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, no. 147)

The Creed and Lord’s Prayer are texts that we can recite by heart and can even at times take for granted. Yet for the catechumens and the elect, those we introduce to the Church in the way a master tradesman introduces work and skills to an apprentice, they are not taken for granted. They can often be prayers that our catechumens and elect do not know.

It is quite important that we ritualise the sharing of these prayers with the elect. Mechelle has already been presented with the creed and will be presented with the Lord’s Prayer on Monday evening. As she becomes fully initiated into the Catholic Church, she will learn these prayers and commit them to her heart and mind through regular recitation with the rest of the assembly at Mass.

Yet these presentations lead the elect once again to the Easter Vigil. The elect will be called upon to profess their faith in order to declare their readiness for baptism. At the Easter Vigil, before receiving communion for the first time, they join the assembly in praying the Lord’s Prayer. Let us pray that Mechelle may have the courage to profess her faith and pray the words Jesus taught us on the most holy night on which she will be initiated into our community and Church.