Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mass: The parts of Mass and their purpose

I received a gift from my mother this Christmas that is very dear to my heart: her 1961 St. Joseph's Daily Missal. Although I have attended only one Mass in the Extraordinary Form (EF), I was touched deeply by it and desire very strongly to attend an EF Mass again soon (although it's difficult with my own parish obligations). The Ordinary Form (OF) of Mass -- that is, the Mass promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 and currently in its third typical edition as of 2002 -- follows the same basic structure of the EF, but there are certain things omitted (and certain things added). This post is not about the differences, though; rather, it is simply about the parts of the EF and what they mean. And so we go back to the Daily Missal.

Two pages of the Daily Missal give a very good (and concise) explanation of the parts of Mass. I've included them as images below, but I'll reproduce their content in prose.

Our Participation in the Mass
Parts of the MassOur Participation
I. Preparation
1. Prayers at the foot of the altar.WE COME to Mass longing for God and with great sorrow for our sins.
II. Prayerful Worship
1. Introit.
2. Kyrie.
3. Gloria.
4. Collects.
5. Epistle.
6. Gospel.
7. Creed.
WE LISTEN to the word of God in the Epistle and Gospel and respond with the Credo, "I believe."
III. Sacrificial Preparation
1. Offertory Verse.
2. Offertory Prayers.
3. Washing the Fingers.
4. Orate Fratres.
5. Secret Prayers.
WE ARE PREPARED to offer God that sacrifice which is most pleasing to Him, self-surrender.
IV. Sacrificial Action
1. Preface and Sanctus.
2. Memento of the Living and of the Saints.
3. Consecration.
4. Offering of the Victim.
5. Commemoration of the Dead and petition for Communion with the Saints.
JESUS CHANGES our gifts into His Body and Blood. We offer Him and He offers Himself with us and for us to His heavenly Father.
V. Sacrificial Banquet
1. Our Father.
2. Agnus Dei.
3. Communion.
4. Communion Verse.
5. Postcommunion.
THE FATHER GIVES us His Son in Holy Communion. We abide in God and God in us.
VI. Dismissal
1. Ite Missa Est.
2. Blessing.
3. Last Gospel.
WE GO AS children of God with Jesus and like Jesus to our work.

The other page, titled "PLAN OF THE MASS", uses the structure of a church building as its context for the parts of Mass. You'll need to look at the image for the full effect; here is my translation of the image:


(We go to God: We pray)
(Sacrifice of Prayer: We speak to God)
1. Prayers at the FOOT of ALTAR (Contrition)
2. KYRIE (Cry for mercy)
3. GLORIA (Praise)
4. COLLECT (Petition)

(His Word Comes to us: We Learn)
(Instruction: God speaks to us)



(Jesus Christ Offers Himself: Our Offerings become the Body of Jesus)
(Preparatory Offering: Bread, Wine)

(Sacrifice: The Sacred Victim)

(Sacrificial Banquet: The Bread of Life)
COMMUNION (We Receive)

Final Prayers

Last Gospel


Gretchen said...

Thanks for posting. Guess what we were taught at RCIA last night? That confirmation is a mere 'finishing up' of the sacrament of baptism. We are not soldiers of Christ (that was what the Church taught in the old days). So funny to be a convert who runs up against the very protestantizing elements she was running away from in the first place!

japhy said...

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

A sacrament in which the Holy Ghost is given to those already baptized in order to make them strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.

It has been variously designated: bebaiosis or confirmatio, a making fast or sure; teleiosis or consummatio, a perfecting or completing, as expressing its relation to baptism. With reference to its effect it is the "Sacrament of the Holy Ghost", the "Sacrament of the Seal" (signaculum, sigillum, sphragis). From the external rite it is known as the "imposition of hands" (epithesis cheiron), or as "anointing with chrism" (unctio, chrismatio, chrisma, myron). The names at present in use are, for the Western Church, confirmatio, and for the Greek, to myron.

It's the first thing that shows up when you Google the word "confirmation".

Gretchen said...

Last night, Father Boniface told me that confirmation is a sacrament that stands on its own--one of the seven sacraments of the Church. So, does the 'perfecting' or 'completing' part mean that though the baptism is complete in and of itself, the sacrament of confirmation (also complete in itself) seals one as a soldier of Christ, a mature Christian able to defend the faith? A process begun with baptism? In other words, it is more about the heart/mind/spirit of the individual than a continuation of baptism?

japhy said...

There is no confirmation without baptism, so it is, in that sense, a contingent sacrament, but it does stand on its own as Fr. Boniface said.

From the Compendium:

Christian initiation is accomplished by means of the sacraments which establish the foundations of Christian life. The faithful born anew by Baptism are strengthened by Confirmation and are then nourished by the Eucharist. (251)

It is called Confirmation because it confirms and strengthens baptismal grace. (266)

The effect of Confirmation is a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit like that of Pentecost. This outpouring impresses on the soul an indelible character and produces a growth in the grace of Baptism. It roots the recipient more deeply in divine sonship, binds him more firmly to Christ and to the Church and reinvigorates the gifts of the Holy Spirit in his soul. It gives a special strength to witness to the Christian faith. (268)

While there may not be so much emphasis on being a "soldier of Christ", Confirmation is not simply Baptism+1 or Baptism2 or a "booster shot". It is a new indelible mark.

japhy said...

So yes, Baptism is a complete sacrament on its own, and Confirmation is a complete sacrament on its own. But Confirmation builds upon what Baptism has effected.

A priest would do a better job of explaining this than I can.

Gretchen said...

Thank you. I think I've got the rudiments of understanding now. I am looking forward to the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit.