Wednesday, June 10, 2009


You may recall that last week we spoke about how all (well, most as we shall see) the prayers of the Mass are directed to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. This weekend (Corpus Christi) is a grand exception. On the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus the prayers are actually directed toward Christ Himself such as in this opening prayer that you should hear this Sunday:

Lord Jesus Christ,
You gave us the Eucharist as the memorial of Your suffering and death.
May our worship of this sacrament of Your Body and Blood
help us to experience the salvation You won for us
and the peace of the kingdom where You live
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

Compare this exceptional opening collect prayer to one that you will hear from almost any other Mass and you will notice a distinct yet subtle difference in the presentation. All are ultimately presented to the Godhead, but here the prayer is directed toward the second person of the Blessed Trinity rather than to the Father, the far more common case.

Now that we are prepared and the opening rites have done their best to make mindful people properly disposed, we are ready for the Liturgy of the Word. We sit. Sitting is a receptive posture. We are listening to the Word of God quietly, absorbing it and hopefully pondering it in our hearts.

The first reading is usually from the Old Testament though occasionally from the new. Most of the time it has some sort of correlation with the third or Gospel reading. Sometimes it is quite clever how the Old and New Testaments are paired together. If it would assist you in paying attention there is nothing wrong with playing a little game with yourself trying to figure out what the connection is. In fact it will help you understand the readings better.

Of course the Responsorial Psalm comes next followed by the second reading which is either an epistle or from Acts or Revelation. Where the first and Gospel reading are usually connected, this reading usually stands alone or is part of a series in and of itself.

We should finish with the Liturgy of the Word tomorrow. I really expected this to fly by more quickly. This is the longest series in this blog yet and I hope helpful. I really am trying just to give the barest of tours! If you are interested there is SO MUCH MORE! I encourage you to do some research on your own.


Anonymous said...

I had a fairly good Catholic education, pre-Vatican II. Yet, somehow, I never understood that the prayers of the Mass are addressed "to the Father." Being mindful of this fact will enrich my attendance at Mass.

Anonymous said...

And, of course the Responsorial Psalm is a response to the first reading and is also very connected to it.

Often, I hear a cantor announce, "the response TO the psalm is found at...", when, in fact the response IS the psalm. Just a minor point, I know, but it is a distraction for me to hear this week after week. It would be so easy to announce, "The responsorial psalm is found at..." We need accurate catechises to undo many years of errors. I think everyone involved in liturgy shares a responsiblity to do their best in this. (Linda)

Carol said...

Not knowing the prayers/parts of the Mass, but rather, only behaving-- and standing, sitting and singing when everyone else did-- was precisely one reason why there had to come a post-Vatican I. Thank God the Holy Spirit nudged John XXIII and said, "Now" or an even greater percentage of us would've ended up in the megachurches, perhaps along with our children.

Thank you for this series, too, Fr. V.