The sacramental meal commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death and resrrection until His coming again.
Liturgy of the Word
When the scriptures are read in the church, god himself is speaking to his people and Christ, present in his own word, is proclaiming the gospel. The words of sacred scripture are unlike any other texts we will ever hear, for they not only give us information, they are the vehicle god uses to reveal himself to us, the means by which we come to know the depth of god's love for us and the responsibilities entailed by being Christ's followers, members of his body.
We respond in word and song, in posture and gesture, in silent meditation and, most important of all, by listening attentively to that word as it is proclaimed. Following each reading we express our gratitude for this gift with the words 'thanks be to god' or, in the case of the gospel, 'praise to you, Lord Christ,' and it is appropriate that a brief period of silence be observed to allow for personal reflection.
Following the first reading we sing or say the responsorial psalm, a meditation on god's word through the inspired words of one of the psalms from the Psalter, the bible's prayer book.
The gospel is the highpoint of the liturgy of the word.
The proclamation of the gospel is surrounded with marks of respect and honor: the gospel is read by an ordained minister, the deacon, or, when no deacon is present, by a priest; the book of the gospels is carried aloft with honor in the entrance procession and placed on the altar until the gospel reading to show the unity of scripture and eucharist, of the table of the word and the table of the Christ's body and blood; just before the gospel is read the gospel book is carried in procession to the center of the church where it may be incensed before the reading and is kissed at its conclusion; finally, all stand as the gospel is proclaimed.
What then must we do to properly receive the word of god proclaimed at Mass The key word in all of this is listening. We are called to listen attentively as the reader, deacon or priest proclaims god's word. We should listen as we would if Christ himself were standing at the center of the church, for in fact it is god who speaks when the scriptures are proclaimed.
The word of god, which is living and active, calls each of us individually and all of us together for a response that moves beyond the liturgy itself and affects our daily lives, leading us to engage fully in the task of making Christ known to the world by all that we do and say.
Liturgy of the Table
After the Word and the promise anew in the Scriptures, the Liturgy of the Table or Liturgy of the Eucharist begins. First, gifts of bread and wine are brought forward as the “work of human hands,” and the Father is acknowledged as the giver of all gifts. In the gifts brought by the people, we may easily sense that we are bringing what is needed for the offering – something of ourselves, of our lives – for the great thanksgiving about to begin.
As the Eucharistic Prayer begins, the priest invites us to enter into the great thanksgiving: “Let us give thanks and praise.” Our response is that “it is right and just” to do so. Then, as we recall all God’s great deeds, our thanksgiving reaches its apex as we remember the great work of Jesus Christ for our salvation. We hear his words: “Take this . . . my Body . . . eat . . . Take this . . . the Cup of my Blood . . .drink . . .” Through the voice of the celebrant, it is Christ who speaks his word again and, through the Spirit, we experience a silent, interior moment of adoration and praise. Remembering specifically his Passion, Death and Resurrection, we proclaim as an assembly our thankful praise of his saving work and our undying hope: “Christ has died. . . Christ has risen . . . Christ will come again."
In this way, we are drawn into his perfect offering, his perfect obedience to the Father’s will, and into the one worship fitting to be offered by Christ’s body, the Church. It is through Jesus alone, “with him, and in him,” that we are able to offer the Father all honor and glory, we acclaim as we sing the great “Amen.” One with him in his redemptive sacrifice, our reception of his Body and Blood which follows is then wholly and true communion. We are transformed by both the Word and the Eucharist .
And finally before our individual communions, we are able to say with one voice: