The Holy Mass by Cardinal Donald Wuerl
                                        What happens during the Mass?

The Holy Mass is a prayer of worship and an encounter with the mystery of God and calls us to devout and reverent participation in the Mass.
We have been invited by the Lord to attend His heavenly banquet and receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

                                         Prepare for Mass                

We must prepare for the Holy Mass by reading the scriptures, fasting for one hour, examine our conscience and if necessary go to
Confession. We should turn off cell phones and other communications and dress appropriately. Other ways we can prepare for the Mass is to
say some prayers or pray the Rosary.

We should bless ourselves with Holy Water when we come into the Church and either genuflect or bow before entering the pew.
Blessing of ourselves with Holy Water recalls our Baptismal vows. Genuflecting or bowing before we enter the pew shows our reverence to the
Tabernacle where Jesus is present.

Introductory Rite
The Holy Mass begins with the Introductory Rite, which includes the opening song, kissing of the Altar, (Altar represents Christ who is present
and show reverence to Him) the greetings by the priest, Lord Have Mercy, Penitential Rite, followed by the Gloria and a brief prayer by the

We address three petitions to the three person of the Blessed Trinity, the Kyrie or Lord Have Mercy. The Penitential Rite gives us a chance to
recognize our failings and ask God to cleanse us of all that might hold us back from the celebration of the Eucharist. Faith teaches us that this
action will remove the stain of any sin which is not Mortal Sin. We strike our breast with our hand at the words, “through my fault, through my
fault, through my most grievous fault.”

The Gloria celebrates the glory of God and is a prayer of praise.
The priest says the opening prayer of the Mass.

                                                          The Gospel
These Sunday readings unfold over a three year cycle of Gospel reading. The first year, Year A, uses the Gospel according to St. Matthew,
Year B, follows St. Mark, with Year C, following St. Luke. St. John’s Gospel is used for special seasons.

The first reading echoes the theme of the Gospel reading.
We stand to hear the words of the Gospel, means “good news”. These readings are chosen from the first four books of the New Testament.
The priest announces the Gospel by saying, “A reading from the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew or Mark, or Luke or John. The priest
and congregation make a small Sign of the Cross over the forehead, the lips and the breast, saying the words, “May the Word of the Lord be
in my mind, my heart and my lips.”
Only a Priest, Bishop, or deacon may read the Gospel at Mass.


In the homily, a member of the clergy, a priest, deacon, or bishop explains a passage of Scripture and gives practical applications. The homily
is an important part of the Mass. It is about our attentiveness to hear that “tiny whispering sound” that is the voice of God, speaking to our
heart, through the ministry of others.


We stand together and proclaim the common faith. When we recite the creed at Mass, we act in communion with each other and with the whole
body of Christ. The English word creed comes from credo which means “I believe”. There are four great proclamations of the creed that we
recite on Sundays. We believe in God. We believe in Christ, We believe in the Holy Spirit. We believe in Christ’s Church.

We bow our heads at the line, “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

                                                     Prayers of the Faithful

The priest who is celebrating Mass introduces the prayer. A lay person announces the intentions, which vary from week to week. The Roman
Missal indicates that we should follow the general outline for the intentions; for the need of the Church; for public authorities and the salvation
of the world; for those oppressed by any need and for the local community.

                                                Liturgy of the Eucharist-Offertory

The sacrifice starts with the offertory. We begin by bringing our gifts to the altar. We bring our material gifts and spiritual gifts. We
acknowledge that if all comes from God and it all belongs to God. We collect money that is used for the upkeep of the Church and the funding
of charitable activities.

                                                            Preparation of the Gifts

.The priests prepares the altar, He places the corporal, cloths and purificator. He positions the missal, paten and chalice. Then follows a series
of prayers, between the priest and the congregation.

When the priest pronounces the two blessings-the blessing over bread” and “blessing over wine”-he is quite likely doing what Jesus did at the
Last Supper.

Why does the priest mix a little bit of water with the wine? It is a symbol of the union of human and divine natures in Jesus Christ; like the water
and wine.  The saints have seen the mixture of wind and water as a vivid image of the blood and water that poured forth from the pierced side
of Christ on the cross.

The priest ritually washes his hands, a baptismal image, signify his wish to be cleanses of his sins and worthily offer the sacrifice.

As the Priest elevates the gifts, he evokes many figures from the Bible. He reminds us of Melchizedek, the first person to be called a priest in
the pages of Scripture. The priest offers these gifts to God and asks Him to accept them and we offer ourselves to God.
The Preface and “Holy, Holy, Holy”

When we exchange these words, as we do at every Mass, we are adding our voices to those of countless Christians since the first
generations. We call this part of the Mass the Preface because it is the very threshold of the most important prayer--the Eucharistic Prayer-it
takes us to the very gate of heaven. Through the Eucharistic Prayers, Jesus becomes really present among us.

We begin our Eucharistic Prayer on a note of gratitude, the word Eucharist is “thanksgiving.” There are Prefaces for the various liturgical
seasons of the year and for the great feasts of the year.

The preface is an invitation. We’re approaching the most important part of the Mass, so we’re invited to stop, to reflect, and to lift our hearts
and minds to God. The preface concludes by reminding us that we are now praying “with all the saints and angels.” And so we sing, “Holy,
Holy, Holy.”

                                                           The Eucharistic Prayer

We see a man (the priest) but it is God who acts through him. Nothing human takes place at this holy altar.

We come now to the moment the Church calls “the
center and summit of the entire celebration.” The Eucharistic Prayer is indeed an offering. It
is the “holy sacrifice” of the Mass. His sacrifice need not and cannot be repeated. But it can be
There are four primary Eucharist Prayers the priest may choose from. The various Eucharistic Prayers differ from one another in style and
content, but they share a similar solemnity and dignity.

                                                         Sending of the Spirit

In every Eucharistic Prayer, the priest asks God the Father so send the Holy Spirit. This prayer is called epiclesis. As he does this, he draws
his hands together over the gifts to evoke the hovering of the Spirit. The epiclesis make clear that the
Mass is primarily a work of God, and not
a pious action.
The Eucharistic Prayer also includes a second epiclesis, a prayer for the Spirit to come upon the people as upon the gifts.

Christ’s Passover is made present when we celebrate the Mass. The sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present.

Jesus gives us his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. He shares his life with us. We are not simply bystander at this memorial.
You are there. You are with Him whenever the Church remembers, whenever you go to Mass.

Jesus gives us his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. He shares his life with us. We are not simply bystander at this memorial.
You are there. You are with Him whenever the Church remembers, whenever you go to Mass

                                                  First Elevation of the Host and Chalice.

When the priest consecrates the bread, it is no longer bread, though it keeps the appearance of bread. It is the body of Christ.
When the priest consecrates the chalice of wine, it no longer holds wine, though the contents of the chalice keep the appearance of wine. The
chalice now contains the blood of Christ.
This is called Transubstantiation.
The bells are rung during the elevation in many churches. People bow or gaze at the elevation and many whispers a prayer, “My Lord and My

The Mystery of Faith

This response is a summary of the Paschal Mystery-Jesus’ Passion, death, Resurrection, and glorification. We proclaim your death, When we
eat the bread, or Save us Savior of the world. At every Holy Mass we proclaim one of these responses.

 The Great Amen

The word Amen completes a prayer. It signifies our consent to all the words that preceded it. It states “I Believe”. The doxology is a grand
finale indeed.

The Lord’s Prayer.

The Church celebrates this as the most cherished prayer and gives it a prominent place at Mass. The petition for “our daily bread” was a plea
before God for the gift of the Eucharist. The prayer has rightly been called a “summary of the whole Gospel.” The Our Father prepares us for
Holy Communion.

The Sign of Peace

He demands that we must make peace with our family, friends, and neighbor before we receive the Holy Eucharist. Our priest invites us to offer
each other the sign of peace. The sign will vary from culture to culture, with a handshake, a brief embrace or a courteous bow.

 The Lamb of God

This is our Passover. It is communal. We draw closer together as we draw closer to Jesus. While we are praying or singing the “Lamb of God”
the priest breaks the host and mingles a small portion of it with the Precious Blood of Christ, which fills the chalice. This is called co-mingling,
his Body and Blood are once again united. The sacrificial action is complete, and all that is left is for the Victim, our “sacrificial Lamb” to be

 I Am Not Worthy

The priest takes the broken host and holds it together and says “Behold the Lamb of God”. Like that centurion, we see Jesus and are moved
to ask for mercy, for healing This is a powerful prayer. It is an honest prayer. We should have a clear view of who God is and who we are in
relation to Him. God is the Creator, and we are his creatures.

Holy Communion

Each communicant bows reverently while approaching the priest. The priests hold up the host and says, “The body of Christ” and we respond
with “Amen” and receive Him. We may either receive on the tongue or in the hand. If we receive in the hand, we should make the top hand a
throne for the other. We then take the R hand and pick the Host up and consume it.
If receiving the Precious Blood we should bow and say Amen, before taking the cup and drinking from it.

We should keep our focus on Jesus and prepare ourselves for an intimate encounter. After Communion, we should intensify our prayer, as we
are as close to Jesus as it is possible to be.

Christ is fully present under each species alone. If only receive only one species we receive all of Jesus and all the grace of the sacrament.

The Cleansing of the Vessels

If any of the Precious Blood remains in the chalice, the priest and deacons consume it, assisted by the extraordinary ministers if necessary.
The priests will then take water and cleanse the inside of the vessels; the ciboria, communion cups, patens, and chalice. He also looks for
fragment of the host that may have fallen onto the altar cloths.

The priest purifies the chalice with water and then drinks the water. The paten is usually wiped clean with the Purifacator. If we believe that He
is entirely present in every drop and every crumb, then the priest must take special care to consume every drop and crumb.

The Blessing and Dismissal

The Latin words are "Ite, missa est," in English they mean “Go Forth the Mass is ended.” What we receive in the Mass we must now take into
the world. We must live the Mass. The Eucharist gives us the grace we need to live in the world, but live for heaven. We offer ourselves when
we go to Mass. The Mass is what we do. It is what we were created for.