Brushing up for Christmas
A. First Reading
This reading will always be taken from the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, God speaks to us through the history of the people of Israel and their prophets.
B. Responsorial Psalm
This is a response to the Word of God, related to the first reading. It is a Biblical text through which God speaks to his people. The psalms are a part of the wisdom books.
C. Second Reading
This will always be taken from the New Testament (and is used on some feast days – whether or not they are holy days of obligation – and on solemnities).
D. Alleluia (the faithful stand)
It is always sung, except during Lent.
E. Proclamation of the Gospel
(On some occasions, the book of the Gospels is incensed.)
F. The Homily (the faithful are seated)
On Sundays and holy days of obligation, all Masses celebrated with the faithful in attendance should include a homily, which cannot be omitted without a grave cause. On ordinary weekdays it is still recommended to have a homily. At this moment of the Mass, the priest explains the meaning of the three readings and how to apply them to our lives.
G. The Creed (the faithful stand)
The Creed is recited on certain feasts – whether or not they are holy days of obligation – and on solemnities. The goal of the Creed, Symbol or Profession of Faith, is that the people respond to the Word of God and proclaim the Creed as the rule of faith.
H. Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful
Normally there will be four intentions: For the needs of the Church; for those who govern and for the salvation of the world; for those who suffer any difficulty; and for the local community. During special celebrations such as Confirmation, a wedding or a funeral, the order of the intentions may take into account the particular occasion more explicitly.
III. The Liturgy of the Eucharist
(The faithful sit down.)
A. Offertory Hymn
B. Offertory Procession
C. Presentaton of the Bread, Wine and Water and the Offering of Alms of the Faithful
During this part of the Mass, the offering, the bread and the wine are taken to the altar and the priest presents them to God, offering them so that they may become the Body and Blood of Christ.
We should take advantage of this moment to offer God our life, our resolutions and intentions, our love, and our talents, so that he may sanctify them for the service and good of the Church. It is the moment to offer him internally a new effort to achieve our spiritual and human goals.
It is appropriate to temporarily pause the collection of the people’s offering if it overlaps the moment of the consecration.
The priest takes the patten with the host in his hands and, lifting it a little, prays a blessing. He does the same with the chalice.
Before presenting the wine, a few drops of water are added to it. What does this mixture of water and wine symbolize? It has three meanings: the union of the faithful (the water) with Christ (the wine), the union of Christ’s human nature with his divine nature, and above all, it symbolizes the water and wine that flowed from the side of Christ when his side was pierced by the lance. According to the circumstances, the altar, the priest and the congregation may be incensed.
D. The Hand Washing
The priest washes his hands on one side of the altar. This rite expresses the desire for interior purification. (The faithful stand up.)
E. Invitation to Prayer
"Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours…”
F. Prayer over the Gifts
G. Eucharistic Prayer
The preface is a prayer of thanksgiving in which the priest, in the name of all the holy people of God, glorifies God the Father and gives him thanks for all his work of salvation.