The Mass – Part 3: Liturgy of the Word
Now that we have prepared ourselves for the Mass through the Introductory Rites, we take time to hear and participate in the proclamation of God’s word. We hear readings from the Old Testament – writings in preparation for Christ and the New Testament – writings that speak of Christ directly. When the readings are complete, we take time to reflect and respond to God’s words.
“As we hear stories about how God has acted in extraordinary ways in the lives of His people, we come to recognize that He has been acting in extraordinary ways in our lives, too” (Grassi, Fr. Dominic, and Joe Paprocki. Living the Mass. Loyola Press, 2011).
There are nine (9) parts to the Liturgy of the Word. We sit and listen to the first reading, the responsorial psalm, the second reading and the Homily. Because it is Jesus speaking directly to us, we stand for the Gospel. Because of their importance, we also stand for the Profession of Faith and the Universal Prayer.
- First Reading. Usually taken from the Old Testament. We must read the Old Testament to understand its interpretation through the New Testament.
- Responsorial Psalm. This can be either spoken or sung. Remember to pay attention to the refrain as it often indicates the major point we should be taking from the readings.
- Second reading. Usually from letters composed by the apostles. We, just as the earliest church members did, devote ourselves to the apostles teaching.
- Gospel Acclamation. We stand, out of respect that we are about to hear Jesus speak directly to us through the Gospels. When sung, the cantor begins, and the people repeat the Alleluia. During Lent, the alleluia is replaced with another invocation such as “Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”
- Gospel Dialogue. Before a Deacon proclaims the Gospel, he will ask the priest for his blessing. If there is no deacon, the priest then prays that he may worthily proclaim the Gospel.
- Gospel Reading. After the reading, the people respond “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”
- The people sit to listen to the message from the Gospel reiterated through the priest or deacon’s own words.
- Profession of Faith (Creed). This is the summarization of our faith. We proclaim the creed as handed down from the early church.
- Universal Prayer. Here the people together pray for the Church, and the world as together they respond “Lord, hear our prayer”
Now that we have delved into the Word. Heard God’s message to us through both the new and old testaments, and the Homily we are centered in His grace and ready for the next part of the Mass – the reason we are here – the Liturgy of the Eucharist.