5/2/12 – The Ambo

The Church is nourished spiritually at the table of God’s word and at the table of the eucharist: from the one it grows in wisdom and from the other in holiness. In the word of God the divine covenant is announced; in the eucharist the new and everlasting covenant is renewed. The spoken word of God brings to mind the history of salvation; the eucharist embodies it in the sacramental signs of the liturgy.

(Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, article 10)

The amboRecently we looked at the increased use of scripture in liturgical celebrations since the Second Vatican Council.  The ambo, then, as the place where the scriptures are proclaimed, needs to be a permanent, prominent place suitable for its liturgical function.  Its use is reserved to the proclamation of the readings, the responsorial psalm and the Easter proclmation.  It may also be used for the homily and the prayer of the faithful.

There must be a place in the church that is somewhat elevated, fixed, and of a suitable design and nobility. It should reflect the dignity of God’s word and be a clear reminder to the people that in the Mass the table of God’s word and of Christ’s body is placed before them. The place for the readings must also truly help the people’s listening and attention during the liturgy of the word. Great pains must therefore be taken, in keeping with the design of each church, over the harmonious and close relationship of the lectern with the altar.

(Introduction, article 32)

15/5/11 – What Happens at Mass, Part VIII – The Collect and Readings

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.

Opening PrayerAfter the Gloria, we conclude the Introductory Rites with the Opening Prayer.  The opening prayer is also referred to as the collect.  As this name suggests, the prayer serves the purpose of collecting together the intentions of all the people who are assembled to celebrate the Mass together.  It then also helps us all to draw our minds towards what we are to celebrate.  After the priest invites us to pray, there should be a brief period of silence to allow us to bring our intentions to mind.

In the new English translation of the Roman Missal, each of the opening prayers has been revised.  We will more than likely be able to tell when the revised opening prayers are used, because their language and structure will change.

Deacon proclaiming the gospelAfter the opening or collect prayer, we then move into the Liturgy of the Word.  The scriptures are proclaimed and we participate by listening.

The main part of the Liturgy of the Word is made up of the readings from Sacred Scripture together with the chants occurring between them. The Homily, Profession of Faith, and Prayer of the Faithful, however, develop and conclude this part of the Mass. For in the readings, as expounded by the Homily, God speaks to his people, opening up to them the mystery of redemption and salvation, and offering them spiritual nourishment; and Christ himself is present in the midst of the faithful through his word.  By their silence and singing the people make God’s word their own, and they also affirm their adherence to it by means of the Profession of Faith.  Finally, having been nourished by it, they pour out their petitions in the Prayer of the Faithful for the needs of the entire Church and for the salvation of the whole world.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 55

24/10/10 – Silence During the Liturgy of the Word

We have been looking at the place of silence within the celebration of Mass over the past few weeks.  Last week, we looked at the place of silence during the Act of Penitence and the Opening Prayer.

Another time during Mass when silence is encouraged is after each of the readings and the homily.

During the Act of Penitence and Opening Prayer, the purpose of the periods of silence is to allow for the recollection of our thoughts and intentions.  The silent periods we should observe during the Liturgy of the Word, however, have a different purpose.

After each of the readings, and again after the homily, we are encouraged to take time to reflect on what we have just heard.  We believe that when the scriptures are proclaimed at Mass, God speaks to us.  Furthermore, Christ is particularly made present to us through the proclamation of the gospel.  It is important, therefore, to meditate briefly on just what is the message that God has for us today in the readings.  Even if we are familiar with the story, each time we hear it we have the chance to pick up on something we haven’t focussed on before.

After the homily, we should take some time to consider what has been said to us, and how the scriptures proclaimed to us today may help to guide us as we go forth into the next week.

Some parishioners may recall some of priests of years past inviting to take a moment “to allow the Word of God to find a place within our hearts.”  This is a helpful way of understanding the purpose of silence within the Liturgy of the Word at Mass.