Meaning of Mass

What is Mass:

Mass is the main ceremony of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. In this celebration the believers evoke the memorial of the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is also called Holy Eucharist or Lord's Supper. The word "mass" comes from Latin missa, which means "shipping".

They are also called mass musical compositions deliberately made to accompany the liturgy.

Mass is a space for community meeting and a school of prayer. For Catholics, it is mandatory to attend Mass on Sundays (which means "Lord's Day"), but Mass is celebrated daily in all Catholic churches around the world.

Much of the structure of the Mass is founded on the traditions of Judaism, but they are adapted to the body of belief of Christians.

The Mass is structured in several sections, each of which evokes a specific meaning in accordance with the Gospel accounts and invites an equivalent spiritual attitude, which is expressed in words or bodily attitudes (standing prayer, kneeling prayer, listening position , etc.).

Parts of the Mass

The mass is divided into several parts, which in turn are broken down into smaller ones. Let's see:

Initial rites

Before starting Holy Mass properly, a series of ritual symbols are performed that generate or express spiritual willingness to participate. These are:

  1. The entrance procession, in which the faithful accompany the entrance of the priest and prepare to locate their places.
  2. The initial greeting, in which the priest, invoking the Holy Trinity through the sign of the cross, greets the assembly and welcomes them.
  3. The penitential act, in which all participants acknowledge that they have sinned and are prepared to receive God's guidance from humility.
  4. The glory, or the glorification of God, a prayer that recognizes that only God is holy and that the faithful need his grace.
  5. The collect prayer, in which the priest collects all the intentions of the community and presents them before God.

Liturgy of the word

The liturgy of the word, as its name implies, is about the proclamation of the word of God contained in the Bible and its reflection. It is structured in several parts or stages:

  1. Readings:
    • First reading: this corresponds to the Old Testament reading, which evokes the history of Israel and its prophets.
    • Psalm: corresponds to the community reading, prayed or sung, of the psalms. The psalms are poetic prayers dedicated to God, and many of them were written by King David.
    • Second Reading: corresponds to the reading of the pastoral letters of the apostles, the book of Acts and the Apocalypse, present in the New Testament. The second reading is only done on Sundays and on solemn holidays.
    • Reading of the Holy Gospel: It is preceded by the acclamation of the Gospel, which normally sings "Hallelujah". At this moment a passage is read from one of the canonical gospels, in which the teachings of Jesus are related.
  2. Homily: it is a speech prepared by the priest, in which he explains to the faithful the meaning of the readings made during the celebration.
  3. Creed: After having listened to the word and its interpretation, the faithful rise to proclaim all of their beliefs as a community.
  4. Prayer of the faithful: In this section, the faithful who wish to express their needs out loud, either on their own behalf or on behalf of the community.

See also Homily.

Liturgy of the Eucharist

After the liturgy of the Word, the culminating moment of the Catholic celebration follows: the liturgy of the Eucharist, in which the memorial of the Lord's Supper is repeated, according to the instructions that Jesus Christ left to his apostles. This part is divided into three fundamental sections. Namely:

  1. Offerings Rite: the community of believers presents to the priest the bread and wine that he must consecrate.
  2. Great Eucharistic Prayer: When the priest receives the offerings (bread and wine), he places his hands on them and asks God to transform them into the body and blood of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. In this section, the priest recounts once more the memorial of the Last Supper.
  3. Rite of Communion: The priest presents the transformed gifts to the community and, after praying the Lord's Prayer and mutually granting the gift of peace, all the faithful go to the altar to receive the body and blood of Jesus in bread and wine. .

Farewell rites

At the end of communion, the priest offers a prayer of thanks and blesses the community of faithful who have attended, exhorting them to be a witness to the Lord's resurrection.

Mass in music

In the field of musical arts there is a form called Mass, which is directed precisely to the musical accompaniment of the liturgy or Lord's Supper.

The musicalized masses were promoted by the Catholic Church, especially since the 6th century of the Middle Ages, when Pope Gregory the Great ordered the unification of the musical style.Hence, the type of chant that was practiced was called Gregorian chant.

In the Middle Ages, the masses were sung strictly a cappella and in the form of Gregorian chant, in which there was only a single melodic line.

Towards the Renaissance, polyphonic liturgical song appeared. Along with the development of polyphony, the organ made its entrance as an accompanying instrument, which was used to replace the missing harmonic voices in the choir. Beginning in the Baroque period, the art of counterpoint and fugue developed, and instrumentation became increasingly complex.

A musical mass is made up of the following sections: Kyrie Eleison, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei. There are many musically famous masses such as the Coronation Mass of Mozart, the Mass for the funeral of Queen Mary composed by Henry Purcell, the Messa da Capella four voices by Claudio Monteverdi, etc.

See also

  • Eucharist.
  • Sacrament.
  • Characteristics of Christianity.

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