The Catholic Mass is the most sacred act of worship a person can participate in upon this earth. In Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council proclaimed:
“The Eucharistic sacrifice [is] the source and culmination of all Christian life.” (paragraph 11) .
The Mass is based on scripture and the structure can be seen as early as that first Easter day on the road to Emmaus. Two disciples were returning to their home in Emmaus a distance of about 7 miles from Jerusalem, when they were joined by a stranger. So we have the gathering. The stranger listened to the disciples talking about the events of Holy Week now recorded in the New Testament. The stranger unpacked the scriptures, explaining all the passages about himself from Moses through to the prophets. In Mass we hear the scripture readings, pray the Psalm then listen reverently to the Gospel and the homily brings them together. When they reached the village, Jesus revealed himself in the breaking of bread – the Eucharist. Immediately afterwards, the two went on their Mission to tell the eleven still waiting in Jerusalem the Good News that Christ had risen. This is the command we receive at the end of Mass.
The Mass contains English, Greek (Kyrie) and Hebrew (Alleluia and Amen) and even the Latin translation contains words from the Hebrew in much the same way that we use phrases from other languages such as French, because there isn’t a satisfactory English equivalent.
The structure of the revised translation of the Mass remains the same but the prayers used by the priest and some of our responses have changed. Over the coming days and weeks, I will share those changes that affect the laity and attempt to provide an understanding of their origin.