Lenten Liturgy of the Mass

This series of lessons on the liturgy of the Mass during Lent is intended to help worshipers grow in their understanding of the Mass and lead them into a deeper experience of worship. The following are excerpts from Fr. Greer’s commentary on the Mass. The commentary will be published soon in its entirety and made available to parishioners and friends of the parish.

And now, O Father, mindful of the love

That bought us, once for all, on Calvary’s tree

And having with us him that pleads above,

We here present, we here spread forth to thee

That only off’ring perfect in thine eyes,

The one true, pure, immortal sacrifice.

(The Hymnal 1940  #189)

* * INTRODUCTORY RITE * *

Good liturgical action is characterized by a sense of restraint, style; it exists to express the common needs of the family. The intensity possible in expressing individual worship is out of place in corporate worship. Each of the individuals involved in the Mass must sacrifice something of his own will, feeling, and preference; each must submit to the corporate movement of priest, attendants, and people. Liturgical worship, in its carefully crafted words (crafted over centuries,) its action, and its music shares much with a work of art. We must leave the lower realism of daily life for the higher reality which expresses and interprets eternal truth. The Holy Eucharist must, therefore, possess structural unity in all its parts, from beginning to end.

This introductory part of the Mass may vary from parish to parish more than the two major parts of the rite which follow. Where possible, it will begin with an Introit, a short part of a psalm or antiphon sung as the celebrant (together with acolytes, lectors, and assisting clergy) approaches the altar to begin the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The choristers (who may precede the clergy as they process toward the altar) will go to their place singing the processional hymn. In smaller churches an opening hymn, the Processional, may substitute for the Introit as clergy and others take their places.

One element should not vary: A Catholic should not go to the Eucharist on an individual errand, even of the most spiritual kind. He goes to take his small part in the total action of the single Eucharist, which the Church everywhere and at all times, in earth and in heaven, visibly and invisibly, offers to God. (Underhill, Worship)