About the Mass: The Institution Narrative

04-15-2018What We Do as CatholicsFr. Joe Fessenden

Before we dive into the individual Eucharistic Prayers, I want to look at the middle portion that all of them have in common, the institution narrative, the consecration when the bread and wine truly become the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.

From there, the Canon proceeds into the Institution Narrative and the Consecration. Nicholas Gihr, in his book The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, poetically describes this moment of the Mass:

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The Preface Dialog

03-18-2018What We Do as CatholicsFr. Joe Fessenden

Now that the priest has invited everyone to stand and pray, he begins the Eucharistic Prayer. The Eucharistic Prayer begins with the “Preface Dialog.” We say this at every Mass, but we sometimes don’t realize that this is actually the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, not when the congregation kneels after the Sanctus.

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The Eucharistic Prayer

03-04-2018What We Do as CatholicsFr. Joe Fessenden

Now that the altar and the gifts have been prepared, the Mass proceeds with the Eucharistic Prayer – this is actually the high point of the Mass I mentioned a few weeks ago. I will explain that further and in more detail in the coming weeks as I walk through the Eucharistic Prayers in detail with you. For now, though, I want to talk about the options you might hear. The Church offers four principal Eucharistic Prayers (I-IV) and several others for specific uses (e.g., Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation and various Eucharistic Prayers for Special Needs).

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Preparation of the Gifts

02-18-2018What We Do as CatholicsRev. Joe Fessenden

The priest then says the prayers in preparation of the gifts. These prayers are Christian adaptations of the barukh prayers from the Seder (Passover) meal. For example, this is the beginning of the blessing of the bread in the Seder: ברוך אתה ה' א לוהינו, מלך העולם, המוציא לחם מן הארץ (Remember Hebrew is read right to left) Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam, hamotzi lehem min ha'aretz. Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth… You should be able to see some reflection of the opening of the prayer over the bread said by the priest, at this point: “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you…”

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Preparation of the Altar and Offertory

02-11-2018What We Do as CatholicsRev. Joe Fessenden

After the Universal Prayer, the altar is prepared and the gifts are brought to the altar. Several items are placed on the altar to prepare for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

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What We Do As Catholics: Liturgy of the Word

02-04-2018What We Do as CatholicsRev. Joe Fessenden

It’s always important to remember that the whole of the Mass points to the Eucharist (though not necessarily communion, I will explain this further in a future article) as its pinnacle. That means everything we do for the first half of Mass is meant to prepare us for that moment. We hear the word of God both to be fed by the Word itself and prepare our hearts for the miracle that is about to take place. Since the reform of the Liturgy after the Second Vatican Council, the Church has used a three-year cycle (A, B, and C) for Sunday readings and a two-year cycle (I and II) for daily Masses. Each cycle focuses on one of the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John’s Gospel is sprinkled throughout the cycles.

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About the Mass: Entrance Procession & Introductory Rites

12-31-2017What We Do as CatholicsFr. Joe Fessenden

Note: This is the third installment of a series Fr. Joe is writing on the history of the Mass and what's going on when we do what we do as Catholics. Some of these things you will already know. Some will be new. We invite you to read all of them, because, even if you have heard them before, it's a good refresher as we start a new liturgical year. These will be posted and archived here.

Part 3: Entrance Procession

When the time has come for Mass to begin, we, at Saint Rose, hear the Entrance Antiphon from the Missal then participate in the entrance chant or hymn. The entrance procession is led by the cross since Jesus is meant to lead all Christians through life. If we use incense at the Mass, the incense prepares the way for Jesus by going before him. Usually, there will be two candles flanking the processional crucifix symbolizing Christ as the light of the world. The other ministers who are to serve at the altar follow the Crucifix.

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About the Mass: Christ Present in the Mass

12-24-2017What We Do as CatholicsFr. Joe Fessenden

Note: This is the second installment of a series Fr. Joe is writing over the next several weeks on the history of the Mass and what's going on when we do what we do as Catholics. Some of these things you will already know. Some will be new. We invite you to read all of them, because, even if you have heard them before, it's a good refresher as we start a new liturgical year. These will be posted and archived here.

Part 1: Before Mass Begins

When we arrive in the Church, we are called to prepare ourselves for what is about to happen. We are preparing to enter into heaven and participate with all the angels and saints in the eternal banquet of the lamb and joining Mary and the Beloved Apostle standing at the foot of the cross as Jesus offers himself for our salvation. So great a mystery deserves our attention and preparation. When one is invited to an audience with a president or king, he does not arrive with no time to spare or even make his host wait. In the same way, we should do all we can to arrivebefore Mass is to begin since we have been called to the court of the King of Kings.

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Receiving Holy Communion

12-10-2017What We Do as CatholicsFr. Joe Fessenden

Note: This is the first installment of a series Fr. Joe is writing over the next several weeks on the history of the Mass and what’s going on when we do what we do as Catholics. Some of these things you will already know. Some will be new. We invite you to read all of them, because, even if you have heard them before, it’s a good refresher as we start a new liturgical year.

You’ll notice that starting this past weekend, we have brought back the communion patens during the distribution of Holy Communion. The communion patens serve two purposes. Remember, we, as Catholics, believe that Jesus Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity even in tiny particles of the host. Therefore, the patens provide a protection against the host falling to the ground, and they catch any particles (crumbs) which may fall from the host as it is carried through the air. Since our Lord comes under the appearance of bread and wine, there are bound to be such crumbs, and we want to do all we can to prevent Him being trampled underfoot.

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