By Manolito S. Jaldon Jr.,
Director of Evangelization & Faith Formation, St. Brendan Parish
As part of our message series, Mass Communication, each week we will summarize the part of the Mass preached about in the previous Sunday’s homily. This week, the spotlight is on the Gathering Rite.
When we think deeply about the Mass, we realize that the greatest gift God has given us is the Sabbath. We have rest, so that we may come together as the People of God and worship the Lord around his altar.
It is God who gathers us, and the first thing he does is move us to sing. Our communal sound resonates in the sacred space, with our own unique timbre and qualities uttering an expression of unity in the mystery of song. Air moving through the throat and filling the lungs produces an expressive emotion of beauty, which leads us to give thanks to the Father.
As we sing, a procession forms to the altar, led by incense (on some occasions), the crucifix, lit candles, the Book of the Gospels, and ministers, followed by Christ in his priest who shepherds us to the altar.
Standing at the presider’s chair, which signifies our communion with the Chair of Peter in Rome, the priest leads us in making the sign of the cross. It is a reminder of our Baptism and our lives grafted in the mystery of God. We next engage in a dialogue that occurs several times in the Mass: “The Lord be with you. And with your spirit.” We are addressing the “spirit” of the priest in the deepest interior part of his being where he has been ordained precisely to lead the people in worship. In other words, we are saying, in effect: Be the priest for us now, be attuned to Christ who uses you to preside over this sacred action.
Gathered around the altar, we confess our sins, which reminds us that we have offended God and need his mercy and the mercy of those in our midst. We also sometimes use the Greek word, Kyrie, or “Lord,” which has been preserved as a sign of our unity and through which we still pray that we all will be one. During the Easter Season, the Penitential Rite is replaced with the blessing and sprinkling of water to remind us of our adoption in Christ through Baptism.
After confessing our sins, we enter into the Christmas event and join the multitude of angels in singing the most ancient and venerable hymn in the Church. The Gloria is sung by the entire people, as we are wrapped up into the mystery of God, making his dwelling with us.
At the conclusion of the Glory to God, the priest gathers our deepest longings, personal intentions, struggles, and pleas in the introductory prayer. Called the Collect, the priest collects and gives utterance to our inner prayers, making us one people, as we address almighty God.
After the opening prayer, we are then ready to listen to the voice of God, who speaks to the people he has gathered at the altar.
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