Week 1 - Introductory Rites
It is important to note that Mass begins at home. It begins as we prepare to join the worshipping community. We are used to seeing the procession of the priest, deacon and altar servers, but we must not forget that the procession began when we left home to come here.
We are called to be full, active, conscious participants in the liturgy. Realizing that the Mass begins at home means that we should do something to prepare. Notice that the bulletin and parish website contain the readings for the upcoming Sunday. Take a few moments sometime during the week to read at least the gospel so that you will be better able to listen to the word in a new way.
Being active participants in the liturgy means that we join in responses and in singing. Even if you normally do not sing, give it a try sometime. It is a way of praying.
Take a look at the environment around the church. What color do you see? What does that signify? Can you remember what the church looked like for Advent and then for Christmas. What were those colors? (Blue for Advent and White for Christmas) Our next seasonal transformation will be for Lent which begins on February 18, Ash Wednesday. You should see purple as the dominant color. Currently we are in Ordinary Time. Ordinary comes from the word ordinal which merely means that the Sundays are numbered. When we are not in Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter time, we number the Sundays in order. The color for Ordinary Time is green. January 18th is the second Sunday in Ordinary Time.
We are asked to stand and face the center aisle. This gesture on our part allows us to join with the community directly opposite us. The procession of altar servers with cross and candles, deacon with the book of the gospels (from which he will later read the gospel) and priest passes through the center of this group. Normally an entrance song is sung. As we sing, we become one community of worship.
Did you notice that the priest and deacon kiss the altar as their first gesture upon processing into the sanctuary. They are acknowledging that this is a holy place, the center of our worship space.
The prayers of the Mass always begin with the sign of the cross. Be sure to join in deliberately and with purpose. Focus on what you are doing. We begin with the sign of the cross as a remembrance of our baptism. We were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
We are then greeted with the words “The Lord be with you”. Our response is “and with your spirit”. You will note that some people gesture outward when saying these words and others do not. There is no rule about this so do what makes sense to you.
Although the rite of the Mass in prescribed, there are a few places where there are choices. One of these is the penitential rite. There is the option of saying the Confiteor (the prayer that begins “I confess to almighty God”) or just the Kyrie, the Lord have mercy. At this time we are to think about our failings, ask for forgiveness and leave them behind as we begin the Mass. We acknowledge our sinfulness together and pray for ourselves and one another.
We then sing the Gloria in response to our thankfulness for the favors that God has granted us.
Finally, the opening prayer is said. You will see an altar server bring the book to the priest to read the prayer. It is called the Collect, because it collects all our prayers together as we begin.
Structure of the Introductory Rites within the Mass:
· Entrance Song or Antiphon
· Penitential Rite
· Kyrie-Lord Have Mercy
· Collect or Opening Prayer