Saturday, 11 June 2016

A Walkthrough the Mass at a Catholic Peninsular Malaysian Church - Storytelling

When we gather at a friend’s home for a meal, we usually begin with conversation, telling our stories or catching up with news. At Mass, after the rites of gathering, we sit down for the Liturgy of the Word, and listen as readings from the Word of God are proclaimed. These reading are stories of God’s people, told so we would remember and appreciate our history of salvation.

2 Readings and a Psalm
On Sundays there are two readings and a psalm from the Bible. Throughout the readings and the psalm, we sit as active listeners to God's Word, while we enter into a dialogue, a conversation, with God.

The first reading is usually from the old testament of the Hebrew Scriptures. In this reading you get a “sneak preview” of the Gospel because the reading is chosen to match the “theme” of the Gospel.

Then we will sing or recite a psalm, a song from God’s own inspired hymnal, the Book of Psalms of the Hebrew Bible. The Psalms have been called the “Church’s first prayerbook.” These are words that Jesus himself used in prayer. As we sing the psalm, we are responding to God’s greatness using the very Word of God.

The second reading is usually from one of the letters of Paul or another apostolic writing. These are instructional letters written to the earliest Christian communities, offering spiritual advice on how to live as a disciple. In these letters are advice and counsel that help us, too, to live out our faith.

In preparation for the Gospel, we stand and sing Allelulia, which is a Hebrew word, meaning “Praise God.” We stand out of respect, prepared to hear the very words and life of Jesus. The priest will again greet us with “The Lord be with you.” He then introduces the Gospel reading while marking a small cross on his forehead, lips and heart with his thumb while praying silently that God cleans his mind and his heart so that his lips may worthily proclaim the Gospel, and the congregation performs this ritual action along with the priest. The Gospel reading concludes with the ritual formula “The Gospel of the Lord” and we respond, “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ,” again proclaiming our faith in the presence of Christ in the word. Then we sit for the homily.

Some people think that the words "Homily" and "Sermon" mean the same. Actually, no. A "Sermon" is usually a long discourse concerning a topic or a series of topic, usually of the preacher's liking, or as requested by the faithful for a given period. A "Homily", on the other hand, takes that word of God we have just heard, and brings it to our life situation today. Just as a large piece of bread is broken to feed individual persons, the word of God must be broken open so it can be received and digested by the faithful.

Creed and Universal Prayer
We stand and together recite the creed. The creed is a statement of our faith in the word we have heard proclaimed in the Scripture and the homily, and a profession of the faith that leads us to give our lives for one another as Christ gave his life for us.

The Liturgy of the Word comes to an end with the intercessions. Here, we present before God our needs and the needs of the Church, usually following a similar pattern: prayers for the Church, those in authority, for the sick and the poor, finally for those in our community. A minister will announce the petitions, and we are usually given an opportunity to pray for the intentions in our heart, making some common response aloud like, “Lord, hear our prayer.”

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