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What are the 4 different parts of the Mass?

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Tom Robertson | Unsplash CC0

Philip Kosloski - published on 05/05/21

Here are the four different parts of the Mass and what each part signifies.

In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, there are four different parts of the Mass. These parts each signify different spiritual truths and provide for us the ability to enter more deeply into the paschal mystery.

Introductory Rites

The first part of the Mass is focused on “preparation,” preparing our hearts to receive Jesus in the Word and the Eucharist.

It is a transition period, when we renounce our sins and turn towards the Lord with a renewed zeal.

This part consists of a few subsections.

  • Entrance Procession
  • Greeting
  • Penitential Act
  • Glory to God
  • Collect (Opening Prayer)

Liturgy of the Word

This first primary part of the Mass is derived from the Jewish synagogue service and consists of 2-3 readings from scripture, often selected from the Old and New Testaments. The priest or deacon will then reflect on the readings in his homily, explaining them and their context in salvation history.

It is a section where we listen to the Word of God and what God wants to speak to our hearts.

The Liturgy of the Word ends with the “Universal Prayer,” which is more commonly known as the “intercessions.”

Liturgy of the Eucharist

The third part of the Mass is a re-presentation of the Last Supper, where Jesus instituted the Eucharist and gave to his apostles his body and blood, under the appearances of bread and wine.

It isn’t simply a re-enactment of a past event, but is a mystical reality where we are transported to the Last Supper and Mount Calvary at the foot of the cross.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a more precise explanation.

The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, the making present and the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice, in the liturgy of the Church which is his Body.

In the sense of Sacred Scripture the memorial is not merely the recollection of past events but the proclamation of the mighty works wrought by God for men. In the liturgical celebration of these events, they become in a certain way present and real. (CCC 1362-1363)

This is also the part of the Mass when we receive Jesus himself, his body, blood, soul and divinity, in holy communion.

Concluding Rites

The final part of the Mass is the conclusion of the liturgical rites, but also a “commission,” where we are sent out into the world.

This is especially evident when the following dismissal words are used.

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord

Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life

We are supposed to take the graces we received at Mass and spread them joyfully to those around us.

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