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Participating in the Introductory Rites & Liturgy of the Word
Liturgy Lines 3rd April 2016
Participating in the Introductory Rites
The Introductory Rites at Mass consist of entrance song, greeting, penitential act or blessing/sprinkling of holy water, Gloria and collect. The two essential elements are the first and last of these.
The purpose of the Introductory Rites is to gather people as a worshipping community and prepare them to listen to God’s word and celebrate the Eucharist worthily.
The entrance song begins the Mass and announces that we are here to worship God as members of the Body of Christ, so it is very important that all join in the singing.
The sign of the cross that follows proclaims that we gather to celebrate as a community baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The liturgical greeting (‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…’) states that the presence and power of the Lord is with the gathered community.
The most commonly used form of the penitential rite is option C. It is an acclamation of the mercy and compassion of God (‘You heal the wounds of sin and division’), not a time for self-accusation.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal describes the Gloria as ‘a very ancient and venerable hymn the text of which may not be replaced by any other text’.
The final element of the Introductory Rites, the collect or opening prayer, begins with the invitation by the priest ‘Let us pray’. In the silence that follows we offer our own prayers which are gathered up in the words of the collect.
Participating in the Liturgy of the Word
The Liturgy of the Word is the first of the two central parts of the Mass.
This quote from Lectionary for Mass: Introduction expresses beautifully the role of scripture in worship:
The Church is nourished spiritually at the table of God’s word and at the table of the Eucharist: from the one it grows in wisdom and from the other in holiness..
The structure of the Liturgy of the Word is: First Reading, Responsorial Psalm, Second Reading, Gospel Acclamation, Gospel, Homily, Profession of Faith (Creed), Prayer of the Faithful.
The first reading is taken from the Old Testament, except in Easter Time when it comes from Acts. The psalm is a scriptural response to the first reading, not a hymn.
The second reading comes from one of the New Testament epistles (letters).
The gospel reading is the high point of the Liturgy of the Word, so the assembly stands and acclaims Christ’s presence by singing an acclamation.
The homily unfolds the mysteries of faith contained in the readings and relates it to our lives today. A short silence should follow the homily.
The pattern of the Liturgy of the Word is one of dialogue - between reader and listener, between God and us. We participate in this dialogue by listening carefully to the reader and preacher, by being attentive to what God is saying to us during the readings and the homily, and by joining in the assembly’s responses.