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What We Do at Mass and Why

Marquette University-CC

Fr. Henry Vargas Holguín - published on 12/23/14

 The priest takes the consecrated bread, breaks it over the paten, and lets a piece of the bread fall into the chalice (commixture or immixture), saying a prayer under his breath, to signify the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord, which is to say, the living and glorious Body of Jesus Christ, in the work of Redemption. (After singing or praying the “Lamb of God”, the people kneel.)

E. Rite of Distribution of Communion and the Communion Hymn
It is very desirable that, when the faithful receive the Body of the Lord, they receive hosts consecrated in the same Mass, and when planned, receive the Precious Blood from the chalice. Full of joy, we draw near to receive Jesus, the Bread of Life.

The priest genuflects, takes the consecrated bread and, holding it over the paten, he shows it to the people, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” The faithful respond, “Lord, I am not worthy…," using the words of the centurion from Capernaum when he recognized that he was unworthy to receive Jesus into his house.

Jesus is called the Lamb in reference to the lambs who were sacrificed in the Temple, but with an important difference: the lambs of the Temple did not take away the sin of the world, whereas the “Lamb of God” does.
(After this response, the people stand.)

The Communion hymn then begins. All should participate (standing) whether or not they receive Communion. The hymn should not end until the last member of the faithful receives Holy Communion.

The tradition in the United States is for Holy Communion to be received while standing, either directly in the mouth or in the hand. (Nonetheless, communion may not be denied to those who chose to kneel.) Before receiving Communion, we should make an act of humility and faith, such as genuflecting or bowing our heads.

Communion is a gift which the Lord offers the faithful through an authorized minister, in imitation of the Lord’s gesture: “He gave it to them, saying…’”  This is why the Church does not permit the faithful to take the consecrated bread and sacred chalice on their own; nor do they pass it from one to another.

F. Ample Time of Silence 
After the last person receives Holy Communion and the priest reserves what is left in the tabernacle, the faithful sit or kneel and pray in private.

G. Prayer After Communion
(All stand.)
This prayer asks God to grant the faithful the fruits of the mystery that has been celebrated, to conclude the prayers of the people of God and to conclude the entire Communion rite.

H. The Time for Possible Parish Announcement

V. Concluding Rites

1. The people receive the blessing, making the sign of the cross in silence and responding, “Amen.”

2. Closing Hymn: (After the closing hymn, the faithful may leave the church.) The moment of leaving the church is an extension of the sacred time of the Mass. Some people will still be praying, desiring to extend their personal moment of intimacy with God. Be attentive to their particular needs and devotions, cooperating by keeping silence.

VI. Appendix

The Private Prayers of the Priest
During different moments of the Mass, the priest prays under his breath or in silence: during the penitential rite, before proclaiming the Gospel, after the Gospel, while he washes his hands, during the commixture, after the Lamb of God, before receiving Communion, etc.

Moments of Silence During Mass 
There should also be moments of silence at the proper times. The purpose of that silence varies according to the moment of the Mass. During the penitential rite and after the invitation to pray, each person recollects their thoughts, whereas after the readings or the homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard. After Communion, the silence is used to praise God within our hearts and pray.

This article was originally published on on November 8, 2014.

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