"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Monday 7 November 2011


In the last article called "The Entrance Rite", we gathered together at the bidding of God the Father and, all together with the celebrant, became the tip of the iceberg, the  Catholic Church of all times and places made visible in one time and place.   As such we had been taken by the Spirit through a door into heaven and found ourselves in the company of the angels and saints.   All our favourite ones were there, including the Blessed Virgin Mary, our mother.   Most of all, we were in the presence of our Father and his Son, and his Holy Spirit passed through and around the angels and saints, and even in and through us, sustaining us, loving us and passing through us so that we too were sustaining each other.

     Nevertheless, we were in the dark because our eyes are not ready for the divine light.   The only thing we could do was reach out and grope in faith. Faith is different from opinion in that we can actually touch what we cannot see and be sustained by what we cannot prove..   Opinion and certainty are uneasy playmates, but faith leads to certainty through love.   Firstly, there is his love for us as he reaches out across the divide to touch us in our poverty and blindness, and then our love for him as he purifies us of self-will and our  reaching out for him becomes more and more real.. 

The basic rule of liturgy is identical to the basic rule of the Christian life in general.   The focus of our attention must not be on ourselves and on what we are doing or what we want to do, but on God and on what he is doing in every moment and circumstance of our life, as well as in our liturgy.   As Jean-Pierre de Caussade said, every moment is a sacrament, filled with the activity of God. Using Our Lady as an example, he writes:
There are remarkably few extraordinary characteristics in the outward events of the life of the most holy Virgin, at least there are none recorded in holy Scripture. Her exterior life is represented as very ordinary and simple. She did and suffered the same things that anyone in a similar state of life might do or suffer. She goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth as her other relatives did. She took shelter in a stable in consequence of her poverty. She returned to Nazareth from whence she had been driven by the persecution of Herod, and lived there with Jesus and Joseph, supporting themselves by the work of their hands. It was in this way that the holy family gained their daily bread. But what a divine nourishment Mary and Joseph received from this daily bread for the strengthening of their faith! It is like a sacrament to sanctify all their moments. What treasures of grace lie concealed in these moments filled, apparently, by the most ordinary events. That which is visible might happen to anyone, but the invisible, discerned by faith, is no less than God operating very great things. O Bread of Angels! heavenly manna! pearl of the Gospel! Sacrament of the present moment! thou givest God under as lowly a form as the manger, the hay, or the straw. And to whom dost thou give Him? “Esurientes implevit bonis” (Luke 1:53). God reveals Himself to the humble under the most lowly forms, but the proud, attaching themselves entirely to that which is extrinsic, do not discover Him hidden beneath, and are sent empty away.
What is true of the Christian life in general is also true of the liturgy.   By its very nature, the liturgy is a theophany: God is manifesting himself in and through the liturgical activity of the Church.   If every moment of our ordinary life is filled with the presence of God, how much more the liturgy!!   If we take our eyes from the ball, which is the presence and activity of God, then the liturgy becomes self-absorbed and those who organise it become pre-occupied with what is secondary.   The liturgy becomes de-sacralized.   True participation is crowded out and entertainment takes its place.   We have all seen examples of this, if only on youtube.   Then comes talk of a "reform of the reform"; but so much emphasis has been placed on birettas, lace, beautiful vestments and what we used to call "tat", that I think there is danger of the pot calling the kettle black, even if the entertainment is of a rather higher order than that which it is re-placing.    If this is so, then we will have to have a "reform of the reform of the reform."

    We already knew through faith that, just as St John was led through a number of visions that, nevertheless, had a cogent theme, so the Holy Spirit would lead us through various contacts with God until we come to the central part of the Mass.   Now that we are together in Christ's name, we meet him in the Theophany of the Word.


Before we start, I want to read you a passage from the Apocalypse:

Then I saw on the right hand of the one seated on the thronea scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals, and I saw a mighty angel proclaing with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break the seals?"   And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth  was able to open the scroll or look into it.   And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.   Then one of the elders said to me "Do not weep..   See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."

Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.   He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne."  (ch. 5ff)
Here is another text, this time from the Letter to the Hebrews (ch. 12, 25)
See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven.   At that time his voice shook the earth: but now he has promised, "Yet once more will I shake not only the earth but also the heaven."   This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of what is shaken - that is, created things - so that what cannot be shaken will remain.   Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire."
Sacrum Concilium reminds us that, when Scripture is read in church, Jesus Christ is present ande actually speaking through the reader:

 He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church.
Hence, at the end of each lesson, the reader says, "THE WORD OF THE LORD"   What does this mean?   Is it something that is said just because it is written down?   Does it mean that the Lord said this a few thousand years ago, but now it is just a reading read by me?   Or does it mean that Christ is actually speaking, using the lips of the reader to communicate with those who are listening?   I believe that Sacrum Concilium is saying exactly that.

In other words, it is not just a piece of ritual and nothing more.   The LORD is speaking.   It is not just a sacred text read out loud.   The Lord is SPEAKING.   It is an event comparable to God speaking on Mount Sinai to Moses, of Jesus speaking to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. 

  Later, when we come to our commentary on the eucharistic prayer, we shall note a direct relationship between the Eucharist and the Word of God, spoken in the heavenly Mount Sion by Christ and relayed through the reader to us, as the Letter to the Hebrews tells us.

How can we get people to realize the sacredness of the liturgy of the Word?   The first thing is to convince the priests.   If they believe this, they are not going to let the bride or the bride's father read the lesson just because it is "nice", whether or not they know the significance of what they are doing, whether or not they are practising Catholics, whether or not they can read intelligibly.   On the contrary, the priests will prepare readers, not just teaching them to read in public and how to use a microphone, but also that to read in the liturgy is a vocation, even if only sometimes a temporary one, that demands spirituality and preparation.

  Tradition gives us the office of reader who is tonsured in the Byzantine Rite and given to seminarians in the Latin Rite, especially chosen and dedicated for this sacred task.   However, it is not always possible to have an ordained reader to read the readings; but we can, at least, prepare those we ask to read.   We should take seriously the prayer in the Institution of a Reader.   The bishop says with joined hands:
Lord God,Source of all goodness and light,you sent your only Son, the Word of life,to reveak to mankind the mystery of your love.
Bless our brothers + who have been chosen for the ministry of reader.   Grant that as they meditate constantly on your word they may grow in its wisdom and faithfully proclaim it to your people.   We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
Once, when I said these things in a retreat in England, one of the group was a Mexican student at a British university.   Afterwards he told me that in his parish in Mexico City, all prospective readers attend a course; readers are expected to have days of recollection and, before they do their turn, they are encouraged to go to confession if they need to, because they are lending their lips to God.   THAT is liturgical.

Another way of diverting people's attention from the sacredness of the event is reading the lessons in Latin without an adequate reason.   If, perchance, the congregation is made up of people of different languages who are familiar with Latin, then reading in Latin would seem to be the best solution.   If, however, all the people speak English and the lessons are read or sung in Latin while the people follow the texts in their missals, then they lose contact with the actual reading which is more than just reading a text.   This is just playing at liturgy because outward form is preferred to the inner, sacramental dimension of the rite..   Of course, there are places like the monastery of Le Barroux, where the monks know and understand Latin very well, where they can listen to the Latin readings with profit, and they are making a real contribution to the life of the Church by so doing.   The right thing to do in any liturgical situation, as in any other aspect of Christian life, is to ask what God is doing in this part of the liturgy, and then conform our actions to his will, to enable him to act in and through us.   In the Liturgy of the Word, Christ is communicating to us.   To put what he has to say in a language that people cannot understand is at best, liturgical nostalgia for a mythical time before the council when liturgy was as it should be.   Turning one's back to the people in order to sing the epistle in Latin is also turning one's back on Vatican II and on one of its most fruitful insights into the Liturgy of the Word and its sacredness.   There may well be situations where to sing in that way is the proper thing to do, where people know Latin.   Outside these somewhat rare situations, we must be realistic.   Unless those who use the extraordinary form of the liturgy take Vatican II seriously in this, then what the Pope hopes will happen, that the two forms will gradually come together and fuse, will never happen.

Another way of impressing on people the sacredness of the reading is to follow the rubrics.   The ambo should be where everyone can see and hear and should only be used for reading the Word of God and for prayer.   Giving notices and directing the choir must be done from elsewhere.   This sense of sacredness is diminished if the lessons are read from a pamphlet or piece of paper.   The book should be worthy of its contents; and it is most fitting that the Gospel be read from a proper Gospel Book.


The Church has adapted Jewish tradition to its own needs by having a three year cycle of Scripture reading on Sundays, with the Gospel of St Matthew in Year A, the Gospel of St Mark in Year B and the Gospel of St Luke in Year C.  At Many peak times in the year, the Gospel of St John takes over, and a section from St John's Gospel is read in Year B to make up for the shortness of St Mark's Gospel.   On ordinary Sundays, the first lesson is usually taken from the Old Testament and is chosen to fit in with the Gospel, though the Acts are used in Eastertide and the Apocalypse toward the end of the year; while the second lesson comes from a semi-continuous reading of a Letter of St Paul or another apostle.   However, there is harmony in all three lessons during Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, up till the Baptism of Our Lord, and during Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide until Pentecost.

Apart from major feasts which have their own readings, weekdays have two readings: the first taken from the Old Testament and from the Letters, according to a two year cycle, and the Gospel which is the same every year.

Old Testament Lessons: For Our Lord and the first Christians, "Holy Scripture" meant what we call the "Old Testament".   If we want to share in the mind of Christ, we must learn to read and understand the Old Testament with Christian minds.   According to Origen, reading the Old Testament before Christ came was like drinking water.   His presence changed water into wine.   According to Origen and all the early Fathers, we can only do this if we do so in harmony withe the Holy Spirit who is present in the Church.   The Sacred Liturgy is the product of the synergy between the Holy Spirit and the Church; so that it is in Liturrgy that we will arrive at a truly Christian understanding of the Old Testament..   Reading Scripture, says Origen, is like eating an almond.   There is the bitter rind, which is the letter of Scripture.   Then there is the flesh which is the ethical teaching on how to behave.   Finally there is the nut from which we take nourishment, the central Christian mystery, the treasury of wisdom and knowledge.

The Psalm: 

It is important that we have biblical minds, and the psalms and canticles of the Old Testament  are excellent instruments in our spiritual formation.   Our Blessed Lord and the Virgin Mary used a biblical vocabulary in their own prayer that came from an intimate familiarity with these psalms and canticles.   The "Magnificat" is a patchwork of Old Testament quotations, and "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" that Jesus cried out on the cross is taken from psalm 22.   The early Christians and the classical monastic tradition of the desert and right up to mediaeval times used to spend much time and effort committing the Word of God to memory, especially the psalms.  It is only by so doing that the "Magnificat" could be so biblicly rich and spontaneous at the same time.

  After the first lesson, on Sundays and weekdays, a psalm is used.  In the Novus Ordo a reader proclaims or sings the psalm while the people answer with an antiphon after each section.   This is the ancient way of doing so.   Of course, the psalms are songs, and therefore it is better to have sung psalm and antiphon.  The important thing is the spirit in which we say or sing the psalms.   We should so sing or say them that they come from the heart.  As the Jews realised about the use of their own liturgical texts, if we don't want liturgical texts to become mere routine, we must use them in our private prayer.

The Reading semi-continuously of the Apostolic Letters:

There is a continuous reading of the letters of St Paul and St James, while the letters of St Peter and St John are reserved for Christmas and Easter.   Because it is very long and varied in its subject matter, the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians is spread out over the three year cycle, and the Letter to the Hebrews is shared between Years B and  C.

The letters of the apostles have a very special liturgical importance.   The unity of the Church is forged by the Holy Spirit, firstly by uniting it "vertically" with Christ in heaven with the angels and saints, and secondly by uniting us all with each other "horizontally" across time and place.   The Church gathered together to celebrate the Eucharist has a vertical relationship with Christ by which it participates in the Liturgy of heaven, and a horizontal relationship in that the whole Church across time and place participates in its Eucharist and it is the universal Church gathered in one place.    The Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic; and each of these essential characteristics of the Church has both a vertical and horizontal dimension.   Hence, the Church is Apostolic because it is in communion withe the apostles in heaven, and because it is the fruit of apostolic preaching and is in communion with the apostles and their successors on earth.   All this is very abstruse and theoretical if we do not share in the apostolic mentality; and one principal means by which we do this is through the apostolic letters.   Through them, we do not just become one with the apostles who wrote them: we become one with Christ who shines through their testimony.


"Alleluia", which means "God be praised!" in Hebrew, was taken over from the synagogue by the Eastern Church quite early on and only became part of western worship around the time of St Gregory the Great.

Fr Alexander Schmemann tells us that there are two kinds of chant: psalmodic in which the prayer is principally conveyed through the words, and melismatic where the sound is more important than the words.   In the first, we are directing concepts towards God; while in the second, we are expressing an attitude, normally of joy, praise, happiness.  Melismatic music, called jubilus in Latin (from which we get the word "jubilant") prolongs the music longer than is necessary to say the word or repeats it often.   The Alleluia is melismatic and, if you have a doubt, just listen to the Alleluia Chorus!!!   In the Byzantine Rite it is sung all the year round; while in the Latin Rite we leave it out in Advent and Lent.   Of course, at Easter, we use it as often as possible.

Why is "Alleluia" sung before the Gospel?   Because the reading of the Gospel in the climax of the theophany of the Word.   The Gospels are not just Christ's teaching: they are verbal portraits of Jesus himself   He has been present in the power of the Holy Spirit, "the doors being closed" because we have assembled in his name.   In the reading of the Gospel he is revealing himself   Because we believe that he is not only present in the priest or deacon and acting through him in the proclamation, he is manifesting his presence and revealing his face in what is about to be read.   In joy we sing, "Alleluia!!"


Where there is a Gospel Book, it is taken from the altar, the place of God's Presence,    The Gospel reading is the climax of the "theophany of the word", and this is made clear by the use of incense and lights.   The Book has been held aloft and the people stand and sing "Alleluia".

The deacon asks the principal celebrant for a blessing.   The celebrant says:
May the Lord be in your heart and on your lips, that you may proclaim his Gospel worthily and well, in  the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.  R/ Amen.
If a deacon is not present, then the priest says:
Cleanse my heart and my lips, Almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim your holy Gospel.
Like the Incarnation, the reading of the Gospel is an activity that is both divine and human, and it is the Spirit of Christ who gives it its special character.   The Lord is in his heart and on his lips so that people may hear what he has to say, not as his own message, but as a message from God.   For this, he is entirely dependent on God's help, as was Mary so that she could become Mother of God.   This is re-affirmed in the greeting by which he addresses the people:
P.   The Lord be with you

A./   And with your spirit.
This is the translation of "Domiinus vobiscum"  and its answer    "Et cum spiritu tuo", which is a very Henrew greeting and response.   It has no verb, which means that it can also mean, "The Lord IS with you", a statement rather than a wish.  Being Hebrew it probably means both.   The priest recognises the presence of the Lord in the congregation.  However, he also knows that we are not yet saints and, therefore, he wants the Lord to be with them even more actively.  The answer, "And with your spirit", is not simply another way of stating and wishing the same thing.   Narsai of Nisibis (5th Century Syriac father) wrote of this response, "He gives the name "spirit" not to the soul of the priest but to the spirit he received through the imposition of hands."   For this reason, this response is only made by the people to an ordained bishop, priest or deacon,   The greeting with its answer reminds us that we are in kingdom territory, where God is actively reigning.   Both priest and people can only do effectively what God does in and through them by the power of the Lord.

A bishop, priest or deacon gives this greeting or a variation of it whenever he leads the people in prayer, acting as their voice, before the eucharistic prayer, before any other activity in which he acts on behalf of Christ, before every blessing.   If the Lord is not with the ministry, acting through him, then what he received at ordination cannot function.   If the Lord is not with the people they receive any blessing or participate in any ecclesial act. 

In the case of the Gospel, if Christ is not present in the Spirit with the people, they cannot hear the Gospel as Word of God; and if Christ is not acting by the Spirit through what the priest or deacon received at ordination, then he cannot proclaim the Gospel as a message from God rather than a message of his own: hence the importance of this greeting.
The priest or deacon then says:
A Reading from the holy Gospel according to...

In the old Latin rite the title was read, "Sequentia Sancti Evangelii..." thus indicating that the original practice was to begin at the beginning of a Gospel and to read it from cover to cover over the weeks.  Only Holy Week and Easter had their own readings.   However, little by little, feasts with their own readings took over, until any hope of systematically presenting the people with the four gospels was lost, until it was restored in the Novus Ordo.

The essential thing is that, in the reading of the Gospel, the person of Jesus Christ is revealed to us, not only as someone who lived two thousand years ago, but as Someone present in heaven and  in the liturgical assembly, our Saviour, our God and King, who unites in himself heaven and earth.   His presence is acknowledged after the reader has proclaimed, "The Gospel of the Lord," when the people  answer, "Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!"

The Scriptural text is like seeds in a bag, full of potential but inert, until it is proclaimed and when it takes root in the human soul and becomes a source of life.    Only then will what the Letter to the Hebrews be true for us:
The word of the law is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the intentions of the heart.   And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.
 It is the function of the Homily to help the proclaimed word to become part of the lives of those who listen.   Firstly, they must become part of the life of the priest or deacon who is going to give the homily.   It must be prayed before it is preached.   The sermons of the Cure d'Ars were very simple and direct, but they made an impact because they came from the heart.   The preacher is servant of the Word.  The best rubric for the liturgy that comes from Scripture is what St John the Baptist said, "He must increase, but I must decrease."   If all that the people remember is the character, jokes, stories or style of the priest, even if they remember this for the rest of their lives, he is a bad preacher.   If the people go away exclaiming how wonderful the priest is, they have missed the main point of the Mass.   Preaching the homily is a responsibility so that the Word of God takes root in peoples' lives.   We must approach the task with the utmost seriousness.

The sermon is of obligation on Sundays and holidays of obligation.  There should be a homily at childrens' Masses and special Masses.   It is good to preach especially in the weekday Masses of Advent, Lent and Eastertide, at big feasts and on other occasions when there is a large congregation.   The homily is an intricate part of the liturgy.


As you would expect from a fundamentally semitic liturgy, celebrated in classical Aramaic, there is great emphasis on the Word of God; and someone who has been present at one such liturgy told me that what he remembers most is the reverence with which they treated the Gospel Book.   On feas tdays they can have as many as five lessons, with two from the Old Testament   Before the Gospel the choir sings::
O, ye who believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, come and listen to the words that cure the body and give life to the soul. The Son of God became like man among men, and with His command loosened the sin that had taken hold of men.The treasure of the Spirit opens before you this discourse, and this book is all full of life and beatitudes.
The devils scatter and the demons proceed in fear, when they hear these life-giving tidings.
This is the gate through which a man enters into the Kingdom and this is the way which is all clear from stumbling blocks.
These are the words, that if the living treat with contempt, they will die. This is the voice that when the dead hear, they come to life.
This is the Light, this is the Truth, this is the Life and He of who it speaks, is the Judge of the dead and the living.
It is necessary that you should know that all the people through Him shall be saved, believe and be assured that all sins through Him shall be remitted.
The Sower went out, that instead of seed, He may sow the word, instead of earth, offer to Him your hearts.
Life, blessedness, compassion and mercy is His discourse. Hope and life, and life to the dead, is His voice.
Blessed is he who believes in Him and confirms his words, for if he is dead he shall live, and if he is living he shall not die in his sins.
The only-begotten Son of God came into the world, above nature, and contrary to custom, shone forth from the Virgin.
The sick He cured, the lepers he cleansed, devils He drove out, and death He vanquished, He died, He came to life and He rose and ascended into heaven.
He sent the Spirit upon the apostles and made them wise, and unto the four corners to preach the gospel, He sent them.
And now [Evangelist] is interpreting the things he saw and heard, therefore, whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.  (The gospel follows)

After the Little Entrance and the singing of the Trisagion, the deacon says to the priest:
Bless, Master, the high throne.

(Then turning towards the holy Table, the priest says:)
Blessed are You on the throne of glory of Your kingdom, seated upon the Cherubim, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
This is a reminder that the "high throne" where the sacrifice of atonement is offered, is the place of contact between God and his people.   This we in the Latin West call the "altar".   This belief is why, both in East and West, the priest never remained with his back to the altar for long, why, for the whole Mass, people faced the altar, why readers did not put their back to the altar, and even the deacon read, at the very best, at right angles, and why the altar was kissed and incensed.   This was not because of the tabernacle, but for the sacrifice that is offered on it.   As we have seen in "THE ALTAR" (click) is because of the adoption and adaptation to the Christian reality of Old Testament temple theology by the Church.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
The Readings

The Epistle

Let us be attentive.
(The Reader reads the verses from the Psalms.) (This may have been the psalm after the Old Testament lesson which no longer exists)
The reading is from (The name of the book of the New Testament from which the Apostolic reading is taken).
Let us be attentive.
(The Reader reads the designated Apostolic pericope.)
Peace be with you.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.
Priest (in a low voice):
Shine within our hearts, loving Master, the pure light of Your divine knowledge and open the eyes of our minds that we may comprehend the message of your Gospel. Instill in us, also, reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that having conquered sinful desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, thinking and doing all those things that are pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give glory together with Your Father who is without beginning and Your all holy, good, and life giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

For this liturgy, the divine knowledge that enters our minds is not just "correct ideas about God and the things of God"; nor is it mere rules of conduct.   It is the divine light that has our participation in the life of the Blessed Trinity as its constant source, and Christ is this light.   It is this that instils in us a reverence for the Commandments and the strength to control and conquer our sinful desires..   Hence we listen to the Gospel with anticipation.   It is giving us a share of the divine life which is beyond mere concepts.

The Holy Gospel

Wisdom. Arise. Let us hear the holy Gospel. Peace be with all.
And with your spirit.
The reading is from the holy Gospel according to (Name). Let us be attentive.
Glory to You, O Lord, glory to You.
(The Deacon reads the designated pericope of the holy Gospel.)
Glory to You, O Lord, glory to You.
The Homily

Now, back to the Latin Rite:


The creed is an obligation on Sundays and Solemnities, and it can be used at Masses of importance to the local community.   It was originally used at Baptisms and became inserted in the Mass in the East during the Christological controversies.   In the East it is in the Offertory for reasons we shall make clear when we come to treat that part of the Mass.   It was only introduced into the Mass reluctantly in Rome in the 11th century under imperial pressure, where it is a response to the reading of the Word.


We must remember that the "Bidding Prayers" are the prayers of Christ's body, the Church, and, therefore, the prayers of Christ himself before his heavenly Father.   They are not the equivalent of each priest bringing his own prayers to God in the silence of his heart.   Such prayer is excellent, but is not a substitute for the bidding prayers.   That we are praying in his name means that we pray from his point of view; though, of course, there is nothing wrong with including our own intensions at the end.   This is the usual order of intensions:
a) for the needs of the Church
b) for public authorities and for the salvation of the world;
c) for the oppressed and those in need;
d) for the local community;
d) the souls of the faithful departed and/or private intentions

In Requiem Masses and when other sacraments are celebrated during Mass, the Bidding Prayers are adapted or adopted to fit in with the occasion; but they are never just about the person who has died or about the private intentions of those who assist, because by their very nature they are the prayers of Christ in the Church

We have heard Christ speak.   We have had him reveal his presence in the Gospel.   We have responded in the Creed and in prayers.   We are now ready to go further into the Mystery by taking part in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.


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