Guide to the Mass

Guide to the Mass

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The Mass, or also known as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is the most important, central, and sacred act of worship in Catholicism. This is because the Holy Eucharist is “the source and summit of Christian Life” (Lumen Gentium; 1964). As Catholics, we believe that during the Mass, the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, called the Eucharist, even though the appearances of bread and wine remain.  We firmly maintain that Jesus Christ is really, truly, and substantially present in the Eucharist.  It is not simply a sign or symbol, but really Jesus Christ.  To help prepare us for encountering Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, we come to Him through Sacred Scripture.  Praying with the scripture readings for Mass in advance can further enhance our encounter with Christ at Mass.  Below are the scripture readings for Mass for this week.


Participation at Mass

During Mass the congregation participates by singing, praying, speaking, sitting, kneeling and so on. The priest is the leader of the prayers during Mass, but the prayers of the people join his.

The Mass has four parts:

  1. Introductory Rites
  2. The Liturgy of the Word
  3. The Liturgy of the Eucharist
  4. Concluding Rites

In the Liturgy of the Word, we listen attentively to multiple passages read from Sacred Scripture, and then the priest or deacon preaches about the readings to help us understand them, apply them to our lives, and prepare us to meet Jesus in the Eucharist.  The Liturgy of the Eucharist includes the Eucharistic prayer.  During this prayer, Jesus Christ, through His priest, consecrates the bread and wine into His Body and Blood and offers Himself to God the Father. The congregation joins Christ in this prayer by uniting Jesus Christ alive within their souls, along with themselves, to the priest, and through the priest, to Jesus Christ, and they offer all of it to God the Father.

Every person should be disposed to, cooperative with, and willing to accept the supernatural divine graces being bestowed at the Mass. Knowing the responses and postures during Mass can help us better participate and be disposed to receive God's grace.  Understanding the Mass can help us be well disposed, too.  So, let us be as well-disposed as we can be as we celebrate Mass by learning more about it.

Below is a brochure for the Responses and Postures for the Catholic Mass, which can help you know the responses and when to sit, stand, and kneel.

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Our Breaking of the Bread Hymnal also includes a guide to the Mass called the Order of the Mass, which starts on page 3.  It is more detailed than the brochure above.  The hymnal also includes all of the Sunday readings identified by their dates, so you can follow along as the readings are proclaimed.  Please take advantage of this resource to help enhance your experience when you come and join us for Mass.

All Catholics who are free from any serious sin, are invited to come forward for Holy Communion.  Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion. The United States Council of Catholic Bishops provide additional guidelines for the reception of Holy Communion for those who are not Catholic.  Please read and follow them.

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