The purpose of the Introductory Rites is to gather the entire community of believers together and prepare them for what they are to celebrate. The Entrance Procession and song unite us, the baptised and begin the celebration. There is the Sign of the Cross (with which we are first signed before our baptism) and the Greeting. In the assembled people of God who have come together to celebrate the Mass, Christ is made present. Christ is also made present through the ministry of the priest who leads the celebration.
The Penitential Act reminds us of the words in the Gospel according to Matthew:
So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. (Mt 5:23-24)
We recall our sins and confess them in one of three forms; the Confiteor (I confess to almighty God…), Have mercy on us, O Lord…, or through invocations to God with the responses Lord, have mercy and Christ, have mercy.
On Sundays (except in Lent and Advent) and important feast days the Gloria is sung or said. It is a hymn of praise to God which was originally reserved for Masses celebrated by a bishop. It begins with the words used in the account of the nativity of Jesus in the Gospel according to Luke.
The Collect Prayer concludes the Introductory Rites. The priest invites us to pray, then pauses for us to silently bring to mind our own intentions. He then leads the Collect, drawing together our intentions and uniting us in prayer. The Collect Prayer has a particular structure, beginning firstly by naming God in a particular way, then following with our petition. Finally, as it is a Trinitarian prayer, our prayer to God the Father is made through Christ, who lives in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
- Ezra Summons the People to Obey the Law (Neh 7:73 – 8:7)
- Concerning Anger (Mt 5:21-26)
- The Shepherds and the Angels (Lk 2:8-20)
Texts of the Order of Mass
- from the current edition of the Roman Missal (Universalis Publishing)
What Are You Doing? The Assembly’s Guide to Mass
The Catechism of the Catholic Church