THE HOLY MASS: CELEBRATING WHAT WE BELIEVE (PART 3)
THE HOLY MASS: CELEBRATING WHAT WE BELIEVE (PART 3)
BY : REV. FR. DANIEL ADJEI ABOAGYE
The Kyrie and Gloria:
“The kyrie or Lord have mercy” is an ancient chat by which all present acclaim and plead for mercy. Through this acclamation, we beg for the divine mercy. Mercy in its true sense goes beyond forgiveness of sin. It encompasses all of divine blessings. The Kyrie also acclaims Christ as the true Lord, kyrios. The Gloria on the other hands is a festive hymn appropriate during the Christmas and Easter and Ordinary Time. It begins with the biblical words “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.” these are equally the same words the angel of God addressed the shepherds at the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:14. Other phrase in the Gloria are; “only begotten Son” Jn 3:16, “the Lamb of God” John 1:29, “Holy One” Rev 3:7, 16:5 and “the Lord” is in 1 Cor 8:5 and Philippians 2:1. It is sung to express the community’s joy in giving glory to the Father, through the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit while at the same time the gathered assembly pleads for forgiveness.
The Gloria is structured in three part: the angels’ song of praise (Luke 2;13f), the glorification of God, and an act of praise and devotion to Christ. The Gloria concludes with “for you alone are the Holy one, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ.” Like the Kyrie, this hymn was arranged during the period of emperor worship, splendid festival of gods, which was accompanied by public sacrifice.
Christians were persecuted because they refused to profess to the emperor and their god’s the title of a king, kyrios. They became enemies of the gods and the state. It was within such a context, Christians affirmed in their song the Lordship of God. Still relevant today is to chant the Kyrie and Gloria because there are still false gods and seductive ideologies to impose themselves on humanity as the Lord of our life.
But for the church, only Christ alone is the Most High. The Sanctus is not sang during advent and Lent, with the purpose to suppress the joy only to be sang at Christmas and Easter.
As one of the presidential prayers, the ‘collect’ is said by the priest or bishop presiding over the celebration. Although only the presider says the prayer “everyone who participates in the celebration becomes a pray-er of this prayer” it is called the ‘collect’, a name originating from the Latin root oratio collecta, meaning “prayer that has been gathered and concentrated.”
All our prayers are collected and addressed to the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit” Technically the ‘collect’ closes the introductory rites. The presidential prayers are accompanied with raised and extended hands called “stance of the orantes.” The raising and extension of the hands is a posture that reminds Christians of the crucified Lord.
Thus, in the mass, the posture communicates that Christ continually prays with and for the assembly as the victim and priest of the sacrifice.
When the priest invites the assembly for the prayer “let us pray”, he observes some minutes of sacred silence. Silence here allows the voice of the Holy Spirit to be heard in the heart of the people of God and enable them to unite personal prayers more closely with the word of God and the public voice of the church. ‘Collects’ have a Trinitarian conclusion. All prayers of the church is offered to God through Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
2. Liturgy/Table of the Word.
The church has venerated the words of God in divine scriptures as she has equally venerated the body of Christ. It is revered as the supreme law of faith in conjunction with the Traditions of the church. The honor accorded to holy scripture is identifiable through the church’s practice of carrying in procession, accompanied by thurifer and acolytes, place on the throne and venerated with incensation before proclamation of the gospel. The word of God has divine creative power (1 Cor. 4:15, 1 Pet 1:23).
The GIRM makes it clear that “in the readings… God is speaking to his people, opening up to them the mystery of redemption and salvation, and nourishing their spirit; Christ is present to the faithful through his own word.” It is required of lectors to proclaim audibly and the assembly are to listen attentively and open up their hearts for the divine message. Liturgy of the Word include the first reading usually from the Old Testament (except in Easter [Acts of the Apostles], and solemnities), Psalms, Second reading, the Gospel, Homily, Profession of Faith and Prayer of the Faith.
The First reading taken from the Old Testament indicates that the Old Testament is also a divine revelation which serves the saving events of Christ’s life. The second reading is chosen from the letters of Paul and James, Letters of John and Peter for Christmas and Easter. The Gospel reading for each day is chosen from one of the books of the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The three readings are thematically selected. Usually, the first reading and the gospel text are closely related with the second reading providing a practical example. The homilist after the Gospel reading, explains in simple language and with great expression of joy the readings for the day. The homily as far as content and form is concerned can have the various possibilities: the homily as a preparatory word, as an explanation of sacred scripture, the homily as an explanation of the Mass, the homily as mystagogy and lastly, it must address contemporary life.
Prior to the proclamation of the gospel, the church stands to sing alleluia, a Hebrew word which means “God be praised” and finds its root in Psalms 113-118. Alleluia appears in St. John’s heavenly vision of the wedding feast of the Lamb at which the angels praise God for his work of salvation through Jesus and announces the coming of the Lamb for the wedding feast (cf. Rev 19:1-9).
The significance of the alleluia positions the church at worship to celebrate the new Passover and to participate in the heavenly wedding feast of the Lamb. The church stands at the hymn of alleluia, a symbolism of reverence as exemplified in Nehemiah 8:5. Here, the entire community of Israel stood up when Ezra the priest, started to read the book of the covenant as they renew their covenant with Yahweh returning to Jerusalem from exile. In the same manner, Catholics stand while singing the alleluia, to praise God and prepare themselves to listen to God who addresses them in the proclamation of the gospel.
Profession of Faith (Creed)
After the homily, the priest leads the people of God to expressly profess our faith which is a summary of the article of faith the church believes and transmit from one generation to another. It is either recited on sang on all Sundays and solemnities. The creed professed at mass praises God’s works of our salvation. All bow when the creed speaks of Christ becoming man through the Blessed Virgin.
It is a gesture of reverence in response to the God’s condescendence to initiate humanity’s redemption through Christ. We recall the homages the wise men paid to Jesus and the mother, “they knelt down and paid homage.” (Matt 2:11)
The Petitions (Prayer of the Faithful):
Liturgy of the word concludes with the prayer of the faithful or general intercession. The whole community petitions God for all needs ranging from personal, communal and the world in general. Here, the faithful exercise their priestly function by interceding for all humanity. This power of intercession breaks through our inclination to be egocentric because, intercession awakens a responsibility in us to pray also for the great concerns of all humanity and the whole church.
This part of the Mass is also in line with scripture: “first of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions…” (1 Tim 2:14).
To be continued next week…