“He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by the angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up into glory.” (1 Tm 3: 16)
Happy Ascension Day! Some of you have already celebrated; some of us will be celebrating on Sunday. I’m not going to go into a rant here, but I wish our province still celebrated on Thursday. After all, 40 days is 40 days!
Faith that is not expressed and celebrated cannot grow.
In the Year of Faith, we are asked, not just to renew our own personal commitment to Jesus but to join together as the Body of Christ in worship. Throughout salvation history as passed down in the Scriptures, faith and worship have been linked. Abram heard God speak and then offered sacrifice. Jacob heard a renewal of the promised Land and set up a stone at Bethel with an anointing. Later, Moses met God and learned that Israel should worship on Mt. Sinai. After Israel passed out of Egypt, traveled to Mt. Sinai, and professed faith in God’s word and commandments, they worshiped and offered sacrifices, according to His word.
As Catholics, our worship centers on the Mass. Today, we are going to summarize and high-light some parts of the Mass and how they are a call to deepen our faith. (More can be found in Father Mitch Pacwa’s bible study guide for Catholics, “The Year of the Faith” on pages 70-73.)
Introductory Rites: The sign of the Cross is both a blessing and a commitment to participate in the whole Eucharist.
Penitential Act: We acknowledge that we have sinned and express faith that the Lord forgives us.
Gloria: This is a song of praise and also of faith in each Person of the Trinity. The words of faith are interspersed with praise and petition.
Readings: We believe that the readings are the Word of God. So at the end we make a response of faith. “Thanks be to God.” “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.” The homily is an exhortation to believe and apply the faith to life.
The Creed: By reciting these key dogmas of our faith we are making a personal profession of faith in public.
Offertory: Our response “Blessed be God forever” is an act of faithful thanksgiving that we have the gifts to offer. When we pray that these gifts will be acceptable, we are expressing our faith in the power of the priest to offer our sacrifice.
Holy, Holy, Holy: This is both a promise of God’s presence and an act of faith in the coming of Lord who will be present on the altar in just a few moments!
Eucharistic Prayer: The conclusion is the GREAT AMEN, an act of faith by the whole congregation to set its acceptance of all that has gone before.
Our Father: Saying the prayer that Jesus taught us is faith in the intimate relationship we have with God as our Father who we trust will answer our prayers as Jesus promised.
Lamb of God: An act of faith in Jesus who is about to enter our hearts as the Lamb of God who takes away our sin and brings us peace.
Communion: The priest professes an act of faith to each communicant, “The Body of Christ”/”The Blood of Christ.” We respond in faith. “Amen.”
Post Communion Prayer: This prayer pretty much sums up the faith we have experienced at Mass, especially in receiving the Eucharist.
Blessing and Dismissal: We are blessed to receive the grace to go out into the world and continue living the Mass and professing our faith.
This week at Sunday Mass, let’s pay particular attention to the structure of the liturgy. Let’s be especially aware of how the Liturgy of the Word helps carry us into our assent of faith through the reception of Holy Communion. I don’t know about you, but I think a will spend a few minutes after Mass thanking God for the gift of faith.
Next: Worship in the Old Testament.
Meditation: Do you consider attending Mass on Sunday a duty or an act of love?