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Invited to a meal - It's a holiday today (1)

Every week, we come together to celebrate Sunday mass. We gather in response to the wish expressed by Jesus,”For where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them.”  (Mt 18,20) If this weekly meeting is so important, I think that it is equally important to understant its internal unfolding. For this reason, I suggest five teachings on the different parts of the mass. To simplify, I shall compare it to a meal shared with family or with friends. Every meal consists of four principal parts: the welcoming, the conversation, the meal itself, the leavetaking.

The guests ring the doorbell. We open and welcome them. In wintertime, we invite them to remove boots and coats. The same gestures are found at a mass: the officiating priest stands at the rear of the church with a few persons to welcome us and the penitential rite invites us to free ourselves of our inner loads…

The guests having been welcomed, the hostess invites them into the living room to converse among themselves. At mass, after the welcoming and the penitential rite, the LITURGY OF THE WORD begins. Through ancient accounts, psalms, Gospel, and homily, God speaks to his people and they answer through prayers and hymns.

After having conversed satisfactorily, the guests are ready to be seated at table. At mass, the EUCHARISTIC LITURGY begins. We are at the heart of the feast. The eucharistic meal consists of three parts: the bringing of the offerings of bread and wine; the proclamation of thanksgiving through the words of the preface; the sharing of the bread and wine at communion time.

Then comes the time to leave for home with promises of meeting again. This moment corresponds at mass with the dismissal rite. The priest tells us,”Go in the peace of Christ.”to which we answer, “Thanks be to God”. Two meals which none can go without. Both our physical and our spiritual well being are dependent on them.

Ghislaine Salvail, sjsh

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