The Mass Part 2 – The Introductory Rites
The introductory rites prepare us to first, hear God’s word, then to receive Him in the Holy Eucharist. The Roman Missal puts it this way “Acts of prayer and penitence prepare us to meet Christ as He comes in Word and Sacrament. We gather as a worshiping community to celebrate our unity with Him and with one another in faith. “
You’ve probably heard the phrase “begin with the end in mind”. This means beginning with a definite idea of where you want to end up. In their book Living the Mass, Fr. Dominic Grassi and Joe Paprocki say “It’s no coincidence that the word Mass comes from the concluding Rites of the liturgy. In Latin, the words of the dismissal are Ite! Missa est! meaning, ‘Go! You are dismissed!’ It is from this word missa that we have the word Mass. We indeed begin with the end in mind” (2).
So, as you enter the church to go to Mass, think about how you want it to end. Do you want to get out as fast as possible because the game starts soon after? Do you want a way to shed all the worries from the week, and begin the new week with a fresh start? Are you struggling with something, and need some comfort? Whatever the reason, as Mass begins, keep the end in mind.
The Introductory rites are comprised of seven (7) parts.
- Entrance Chant – The celebration begins with us (the congregation) standing and raising our voices together. This is usually sung but can be recited if needed. The entrance chant helps to unite us as it introduces the Mass we are celebrating.
- Greeting – The Priest comes to the altar, and showing reverence to the sacrifice of Christ, kisses the altar then goes to his chair. At the end of the Entrance Chant, we begin with the Sign of the Cross. We show our union by responding to the greeting all together. There are some choices for the priest, but the greeting is usually something like “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all” to which we respond, “And with your spirit.”
- Rite for the Blessing and Sprinkling of Water – This happens most often during Easter Time. It takes the place of the penitential act and is a reminder of our own Baptism.
- Penitential Act – Here we acknowledge our sins, ask for mercy, and accept His pardon. This is prayed “I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned……” At the end of the penitential act, we are given an absolution “May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.”
- Kyrie – This is said in alternating parts with the priest, deacon, or other minister saying, “Lord, have mercy”, “Christ, have mercy”, “Lord, have mercy”. The people repeat each phrase as it is said or sung. This can be included within the penitential act above.
- Gloria – As we are gathered in the Spirit, we begin to praise and pray to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Beginning and ending with the glory that is God’s the Gloria starts with “Glory to God in the highest….. and ends with “you alone are the most high, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father”.
- Collect – The priest invites us to pray. He then, according to the Roman Missal, “expresses the theme of the day’s celebration and petitions God the Father through the mediation of Christ in the Holy Spirit”.