The Mass: Celebration of the Eucharist

When the Second Vatican Council spoke about the Mass, it celebrated its importance as “the center of the Christian community,” “the source and summit of the Christian life,” root, source, center and culmination, meal and sacrifice.  The Eucharistic celebration is at the heart of our faith and our life.  At that heart, we meet Jesus Christ, truly present in his Word, in the celebrating community, in the presiding priest, and extraordinarily present in the Eucharistic bread and wine.  This presence radiates into the heart of our life and transfigures it into “eucharist,” that is, thanksgiving and praise of God. 

Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2007 exhortation The Sacrament of Charity, draws an unusual parallel.  He writes, “The substantial conversion of bread and wine into his body and blood introduces into creation the principle of radical change, a sort of ‘nuclear fission,’ to use an image familiar to us today, which penetrates to the heart of all being, a change meant to set off a process which transforms reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). (11)

A Look at the Order of the Mass

This document looks in detail at the "Order of Mass" and the some of the possible choices of texts and prayers." The texts and responses spoken by all the people are indicated in boldtype. Some of the greetings and prayers spoken by the presider at each Mass are also included.

Here is the Order of Mass from beginning to end, with prayers and responses, and with simple rubrics (explicit instructions) in red." Additional texts that are different at each Mass, such as the three presidential prayers (the Opening Prayer, Prayer over the Gifts, and Prayer after Communion), may be found in the Roman Missal, while the readings used during the "Liturgy of the Word" are in the Lectionary." This does not contain the full rubrics of the Sacramentary, nor the brief prayers that the priest is supposed to say "inaudibly" (just before and after proclaiming the Gospel, while mixing the water and wine, while washing his fingers, after the Breaking of the Bread, and just before and after receiving communion).

Download the Order of the Mass (97k PDF)

Other Liturgies and Rites

Outside of the celebration of Eucharist there are many official Church liturgical rites: The sacraments are liturgical rites consisting of proclaimed texts, gestures and symbols, and often material things.  They are best celebrated within the context of the Mass and the Church gathered, but most may be done outside of Mass, e.g., baptism, marriage, confirmation, penance, and anointing. Other rites and sacramentals include Christian funerals, the various RCIA rites, Sunday celebrations in the absence of a priest, the dedication of a church, the profession of religious vows, and rites of blessing water, palms, ashes, places and people, and more. The common thread in all liturgies is always the proclamation of the Word of God and the intercession of the Church. (See also Sacraments)

Liturgy of the Hours

The Liturgy of the Hours is known as the official prayer of the Church, and is liturgical prayer par excellence. It is the daily prayer of the Church, prayed at certain significant times of the day, according to the liturgical seasons.

  1. The Structure
  2. How to Recite the Hours
  3. Outline of the Liturgy of the Hours

Liturgy of the Hours, includes both Structure and Outline (40k, PDF doc)

Rites of the Order of Christian Funerals

At the center of the Catholic belief about death is the paschal mystery of Christ, that mystery which includes life here and hereafter and our own hope of resurrection. Therefore the actions of a Catholic community when one of its members dies must as clearly as possible proclaim this central mystery. Particularly is this true when the community gathers to pray for the deceased and to support with its faith, hope, and love the grieving family and friends.  These guidelines are intended to assist in the proclamation of this paschal mystery. Read more.

Guidelines for the Rite of Christian Funerals (76k, PDF doc)