THE HOLY MASS: CELEBRATING WHAT WE BELIEVE
The Holy Mass: Celebrating What We Believe
BY: REV. FR. DANIEL ABOAGYE ADJEI
The Latin maxim “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi” expressively underlines the centrality of worship in the life, identity and mission of the Church; The phrase in Latin literally means the law of prayer (“the way we worship”), and the law of belief (“what we believe”).
It is sometimes written as, “lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi”, further deepening the implications of this truth – how we worship reflects what we believe and determines how we will live. The law of prayer or worship is the law of life. Even more popularly rendered, as we worship, so will we live…and as we worship, so will we become!
The church has relentlessly fulfilled her role as mother and teacher of the faith, ensuring the proper disposition of worship for the sake of the faithful and obedience to God.
To enhance a perfect disposition at mass, there is the need to have an in-depth knowledge and understand the spirituality of the Mass, meaning of the gestures and its scriptural background. Again, this catechesis is intended to offer Catholics the tools to also catechize their domestic church by transmitting the knowledge and the faith.
Lastly, it will encourage full, active and conscious participation as desired by the Fathers of Vatican II.
The Two Tables: Word and Sacrament
The Structure (Liturgy of the Word and Eucharist):
The general Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) generally divides the Mass into two parts that are closely connected that they form but one single act of worship: The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist or the Table of the Word and the Table of the Sacrament. From the historical development of the
Mass, this two division has been part of the church.
Justin Martyr (150) provides us with the first complete description of the Eucharist celebration as it was celebrated in Rome. Justin writes:
“…people who live in the cities and in the country gathered for a common celebration. Then the writings that the apostles have left, or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time allows. After the reader finishes his task, the president gives an address in which he urgently admonishes the people to follow these excellent teachings in their lives. Then we all stand up together and offer prayers. After the end of the prayers,… bread, wine and water are brought and the president offers up prayers and thanksgiving-as much as he is able. The people assent by speaking ‘Amen.’ Then the things over which thanks have been said are distributed to all who are present, and the deacons take some to those who are absent.
In addition, those who are well-to-do give whatever they wish. Whatever is collected is kept by the president, who uses it to help widows and orphans” (First apology, chap. 47) .
It could be traced back from history that the Liturgy of the Word was assigned equal importance as the Eucharist. The Table of the Word prepares us for the Table of the Eucharist.
To be continued…