What is Liturgy? Part VI: The Main Course
What is Liturgy? Part VI: The Main Course

It’s time for dinner; we are called to the table filled with anticipation for what we are about to receive.  Each of us has provided a portion of this meal.  We’ve brought our gifts and contributed them to the celebration.  This meal is made with love.  We pause first to give thanks to God for all that we are and have.

Our prayer is improvised on the spot, begun by whoever will take it up.  Usually one of us will ask, “shall we pray?” and someone begins.  First we thank God for gathering us together, we ask God to bless our food and ourselves.  We remember those family members who have gone before us, with a sense that they are present with us in spirit.  We ask God to bless those who have no food to eat.  We make our prayers through Jesus Christ.  Everyone affirms his or her personal belief by a resounding “Amen.”

At Mass we begin the Liturgy of the Eucharist by gathering the gifts of the community and presenting them to the priest.  Each of us contributes in some way to this celebration: bread and wine for the Eucharistic meal, and our hard-earned wages to keep up with our community’s expenses.  After the gifts are prepared, the great Eucharistic Prayer begins, serving as an elaborate table blessing.   Based on the Jewish ceremonial prayers at the Sabbath dinner, the Priest presider gives voice to our collective prayer.  We praise God for creation and the covenant established between God and humanity.  We bless the cup and the bread, given to us by the “king of the universe.”

We call to mind the events of Christ’s Last Supper, the institution Narrative, and Christ’s words that command us to “do this in memory of me.”  We begin to understand the incredible love God has for us in the sacrifice of his Son.

We remember too all who have died, especially the saints who have set a Christian example for us and who are present in our celebration as the “communion of saints.” The community that has gathered is also included and we are moved to acts of Christian outreach for those who are needy in any way.  Everyone affirms his or her personal belief by a resounding “Amen.”  (June 5, 2005)

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