Br Benen's Notebook Lesson 1: The Mass
In this first glimpse into my notebook I would like to offer some thoughts on the Mass or Eucharist service; both to educate and to enlighten in hopes of a deeper, more meaningful participation.
Did you know that our Mass is divided into two distinct parts?
The first part is the Mass of the Catechumens. This is the instructional part of the Mass during which the lessons are read, the Psalm recited, the Gospel proclaimed and a sermon or homily preached. The highlight of the Mass of the Catechumens is the reading of the Gospel.
The second part is called the Mass of the Faithful. It begins with the reading of the Creed- technically. In modern times the placement of the reading of Creed, the taking of the Offering and pronouncement of the sermon or homily vary in different parishes. In early church history, after the sermon the Catechumens were dismissed from the service. Catechumens and those under church discipline were not permitted to attend the Mass of the Faithful.
Why you may ask? Because they were either under church discipline for some reason or had not yet been baptized and become members of the Body of Christ. The Mass of the Faithful begins with the reciting of the Creed which states: “We Believe…. “ Catechumens had not yet publicly made this profession of faith and therefore could not publicly cite the Creed. Most present-day congregations no longer make such a distinction with the people in attendance but the two parts are still present. The climax of the Mass of the Faithful is receiving Communion.
For those who attend Mass weekly I would like to offer some insight in which we may more fully engage during the Mass of the Faithful. There is much happening on the part of the celebrant (priest) in which the congregation is not so active and in our humanity, our minds can often wonder. Hopefully, the following can help us to focus as we observe four actions performed by the celebrant. These actions are the Offering or Oblation, the Consecration, Utilization and Unification.
After the Creed, the offering is collected, in the early church this was more than monetary but the bread and wine were brought forward as part of the offering or to use another term oblation. This is the first action. During the oblation you may offer yourself along with the People’s gifts on the Altar thus making yourself an oblation (offering) in human form.
Second comes the Consecration. This begins when the priest says, “Lift up your hearts.” And the congregation responds with “We lift them up unto the Lord.” Here you should make a conscious effort to offer yourself with praise and thanksgiving, to be consecrated unto God’s service realizing that as the celebrant consecrates the elements of Bread and Wine that you too are being consecrated unto the Lord.
The third action is the Fraction or Utilization. The action of “breaking” the bread. The celebrant will brake the host in half at this point. Your mediation becomes that I fracture myself to be a living sacrifice in union with Christ’s broken body and poured-out Blood, to be used as he wills.
The fourth and final action is Unification. When you come to the Altar to receive Communion give yourself to Christ, even as he gives himself to you, so that you may then go forth in union with him.
Always remember you go to Mass not to get but to give, for you can in this instance GET only by giving. “The price of love is thyself.” -St. Augustine.
Br. Benignus “Benen” Aiden Francesco OSC
The previous information was obtained from “The People’s Anglican Missal” p.B6-B9.