Edmund: Oh, hey, do you ever wonder what’s going on during Mass? You ever show up to Mass and then halfway through you realize you’ve zoned out and there’s been a lot of stuff going on that you don’t really understand?
So the Mass has a very specific blueprint. It’s been around for centuries. So today I want to highlight the two main parts of the Mass that’ll help you understand a little better what’s going on. So let’s break it down so you can understand what’s going on and you can enter more fully into Mass. Okay, the blueprint of the Mass. And the Catechism says this, “The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays two great parts, the Liturgy of the Word with readings, homily and general intercessions, and then the Liturgy of the Eucharist.” These are the two great movements of the Mass, and they form one unity. And these two parts are, are a conversation, an act of worship and prayer that we can fully participate in. We have the Liturgy of the Word where we’re hearing God’s Word proclaim to us, and then we’re hearing the homily from the priest who’s unpacking the Word of God and what it means for us. And then we come to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the bread and wine is turned into the real presence of Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity. The Catechism actually breaks down for us the Liturgy of the Eucharist in various parts of it. The Catechism says in paragraph 1350, “the presentation of the offerings, the offertory, then sometimes in procession, the bread and wine are brought to the altar. They’ll be offered by the priest in the name of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice in which they will become his body and blood.” We then have the collection. The Catechism says, “This custom of the collection is inspired by the example of Christ who became poor to make us rich.” There’s what’s called the Anaphora, the Eucharistic prayer, the prayer of Thanksgiving and consecration. We come to the heart and summit of the celebration. We have the epiclesis. “This is where the Church asks the Father to send his Holy Spirit or the power of his blessing on the bread and wine, so that by his power they may become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. And so those who partake in the Eucharist may be one body and one Spirit.” Then we have the institution narrative. The Catechism says, “in the Institution Narrative, the power of the words and the action of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit makes sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the Cross once for all.M This is a real high point in the mass, and you know this is happening because this is the moment in the Mass where the priest lifts up the Eucharist and it’s also the moment where he lifts up the chalice with Jesus’ blood. Then we have what’s called the Anamnesis. The Catechism says, “the Church calls to mind the passion, resurrection, and glorious return of Christ Jesus. She presents to the Father the offering of his Son, which reconciles us with him”.
Next, at this point, we have the intercessions. Here, “the Church indicates that the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the whole Church in heaven and on earth, the living and the dead, and in communion with the pastors of the church, the Pope, the diocese in bishop, his presbyterium and his deacons, and all the bishops of the whole world together with their Churches.” Then we have communion where we’re called to come up and receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Now look, I get it, this is a lot, but just think of it as these two great movements in the Mass and in particular in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, what I want you to take away from this is that there are lots of layers to the Liturgy of the Eucharist that are happening. These different moments in the Liturgy of the Eucharist are opportunities for us to enter more deeply into this worship of God, the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Go to the Catechism and open up the paragraphs that walk through the different parts of the Mass. Maybe pick one or two that really, you know, catch your eye and then the next time you’re at Mass, try to listen for that part. You know, really try to be present. Go, oh, okay, here’s the Institution Narrative. This is where the priest is reciting the words of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. In the first half of the Mass, we’re hearing God’s Word and our souls might be stirred. Our hearts might be stirred to move towards God in communion in the second half of the Mass. And by drawing our attention to what’s happening up on the altar, we can enter more fully and participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because the Mass is the fullest participation in the divine life we can have here on Earth.