The Roman Missal (Latin: Missale Romanum) is the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
The Roman Missal
A Precious Gift - He Taonga Kahurangi
The Roman Missal (Latin: Missale Romanum) is the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
In 2002, Saint John Paul II introduced a new edition of the Missale Romanum for use in the Catholic Church. Soon after the complex work of translating the text from Latin into English began. This work of translation was undertaken by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) on behalf of individual English-speaking episcopal conferences, such as New Zealand.
The texts of this third edition of the Roman Missal that we now use were first approved by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference in 2009, and confirmed for use by the Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments on 8 April 20011. Churches, schools and communities began praying these texts on the First Sunday of Advent 2011. Of particular significance are the bi-lingual provision of prayers in Māori and in English and the use of graphics that reflect this treasured relationship.
At the time of publication, Cardinal Dew wrote:
A taonga kahurangi, a precious gift, has been given to you by the Church. Take it. Treasure it. Pray it.
The following samples demonstrate copyright acknowledgements from the New Zealand Roman Missal and Lectionary that may be needed for PowerPoints or booklets. (These are additional to music copyright acknowledgements). Please note you only acknowledge what you have copied.
This sample shows acknowledgements that may be needed for parish or school Mass, depending on what is copied. Please note the scripture acknowledgement will vary depending on the translation being used.
Text Excerpts from the English translation of The New Zealand Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.
The Scripture quotations contained herein are from The Jerusalem Bible © 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd, and used with permission of the publishers.
The Grail (Psalms and canticles from the lectionary and liturgy of the hours): Psalm texts from The Psalms: A New Translation © 1963 The Grail (England), published by HarperCollins, and used by permission of the publishers.
The English translation of the Psalm response from The Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997 International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
The English translation of the Alleluia and Gospel verse from The Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997 International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
The English translation of the Lenten Acclamation from The Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997 International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
For further information please contact Louise Campbell, Director - National Liturgy Office.
As part of the preparation for the national edition of the Roman Missal (Third Edition), the Bishops commissioned a set of illustrations that would be unmistakably of Aotearoa New Zealand. The National Liturgy Office prepared a brief then approached Fitzbeck Creative of Wellington to submit a set of draft drawings. After much discussion and many redactions the final illustrations were presented to the Bishops for their approval.
The complete set of illustrations can be accessed through the resources icon above or by clicking on the link in the banner above.
Illustrations are free for use, please acknowledge the NZCBC for copyright.
At the front of the Roman Missal is a particular set of norms and Instructions that guide priests and people in the prescribed manner of celebrating the Mass. This text demonstrates the continuity and consistency of tradition in the celebration of the Eucharist, from the time of the Last Supper to the present day, even as new elements have been introduced.
Click on the red button to access the full text of the GIRM.
The Chapter Headings provide an excellent outline of the formational material to be accessed through this important text:
Chapter I: The Importance and Dignity of the Celebration of the Eucharist
Chapter II: The Structure of the Mass, Its Elements, and Its Parts
Chapter III: Duties and Ministries in the Mass
Chapter IV: The Different Forms of Celebrating Mass
Chapter V: The Arrangement and Ornamentation of Churches for the Celebration of the Eucharist
Chapter VI: The Requisites for the Celebration of Mass
Chapter VII: The Choice of the Mass and Its Parts
Chapter VIII: Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions and Masses for the Dead
Chapter IX: Adaptations within the Competence of Bishops and Bishops’ Conferences
Click the red button for additional resources
The lectionary is the book that presents the contents of the scriptures that are proclaimed at Mass during the Liturgy of the Word.
The lectionary that we use now was planned in the late 1960’s as part of the renewal of the liturgy begun by the Second Vatican Council. It provides an enormous number of scripture passages that are carefully chosen to connect with the liturgical year and reflect the extraordinary history of our faith.
On any given Sunday at Mass, Catholics from around the world will ‘hear’ the same 4 passages from the scriptures (Bible), proclaimed in their own language.
- a reading from a book written before the time of Jesus (eg a reading from the book of Nehemiah) which will have a strong connection to the gospel we hear later
- an ancient hymn that may have been composed for use in the temple in Jerusalem, that we refer to as the Responsorial Psalm that often carries a reflection on the message of the first reading
- a portion of a letter that was written by one of the first generation of Christians trying to live the “Jesus way of life” (e.g. a reading from the Letter of Paul to the Galatians) This reading stands on its own as a piece of teaching from the early Christian community.
- a story from one of the gospels that brings us the teaching of Jesus within the context of his life and person. This message forms the heart of the Liturgy of the Word. We stand to listen to this message and welcome it with song.
Sunday by Sunday our hearts, minds and lives are opened to God’s living Word, when we gather to celebrate the Mass. As the word of God is broken open, absorbed and digested, it begins to do its work in us: indeed the word of God 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 thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews $: 12) “In other words, the living Word of God, Jesus Christ, enters into the depth of our being and begins the process of breaking us open. The Word of God becomes the source and means of conversion for the individual and the community.” (Elio Capra, SDB)
The Catholic Diocese of Christchurch have made daily readings available on their website. Click on Resources icon above to access this.
Become One Body One Spirit in Christ
A catechetical introduction to the Roman Missal
Click the red button for additional resources
What is it?
Become One Body One Spirit in Christ is an interactive DVD resource commissioned by the bishops of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) to assist it member countries to introduce the Roman Missal (Third Edition).
This comprehensive resource is offered by ICEL as a tool to assist the English-speaking Catholic communities around the world to prepare themselves for the introduction of the new Roman Missal.
As you delve into the depths of this resource you will become quickly aware of the enormous amounts of information at your fingertips. There are essays, interviews, Church documents, video clips and much more.
At first glance Become One Body One Spirit in Christ could be somewhat daunting in its size and scope. It is suggested that you consider this resource as you would a library: a place that you visit on a number of occasions either to browse for interest’s sake or to search out particular information.
Become One Body One Spirit in Christ is divided into five pathways:
- Exploring the Mass
- Receiving this English Translation
- Crafting the Art of Liturgy
- Celebrating the Eucharist
- Living a Eucharistic Life
Each of these pathways has a number of sub-sections that take you more deeply into a particular topic.
There is no one way to use this resource; there is no one starting point. Each of the pathways is an independent topic. You can start at whichever point best suits your needs and requirements. The best way to approach this resource is just “to jump in boots and all”. I encourage you to click on the different links to discover where they take you. Play the various video clips. Read the excellent foundational essays. Browse through the numerous Church documents.
Once you have become familiar with how this resource works and how to navigate your way through the pathways and their options, then you are ready to plan how best to use Become One Body One Spirit in Christ to form and instruct your parish community, your ministers, yourself.
Become One Body One Spirit in Christ is a tool to help you. To make the most of it you need to use it. For those who are “at home” with computers and technology, this will be no problem at all; for those who are less comfortable with this medium, I suggest you just start “clicking” with your mouse; for those who are afraid of these things, find someone in your community who can assist you.
How can I use it?
This resource will be of use to:
- Parish liturgy groups.
- School liturgy groups.
- Directors of Religious Studies.
- Liturgical ministers: Musicians, Readers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion…
- RCIA coordinators.
Download a PDF of the process that can be used with different groups by clicking on the Resources icon above.
What's the cost? Where can I get a copy?
Become One Body One Spirit in Christ is on special! $20.00 NZD (GST and postage & packing included).
To order a copy of Become One Body One Spirit in Christ send an email to:
Judith Courtney (Auckland)
09 360 3042
Robert Garon (Hamilton)
027 627 4475
Mark Richards (Palmerston North)
Fr Patrick Bridgman (Wellington)
Marianne Daly (Christchurch)
Fr Anthony Harrison (Dunedin)
Danny Karatea-Goddard (Te Runanga)
Fr Paul Turner wrote this booklet in 2009 and allowed the New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference to adapt its content for use in this country.
The booklets were distributed widely throughout New Zealand on Sunday, 18 July 2010, as part of the bishops' strategy for the introduction of the Roman Missal (Third Edition) to the Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Download the booklet by clicking on the Resource icon above.
New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference, New Words. Deeper Meaning. Same Mass. - The Missalette
Fr Paul Turner's booklet mentioned above has been a great success. It has been widely distributed throughout the country and New Zealand Catholics have found Fr Paul's explanations of new English Mass texts clear and accessible.
Once approval of the "Order of Mass" was received from Rome the New Zealand Bishops published New Words. Deeper Meaning. Same Mass - The Missalette as a means of helping Mass-goers to pray with the new texts and to make them part of their own personal prayer.
Fr Paul Turner Workshops
In preparation for the introduction of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal to the Church in Aotearoa New Zealand, the bishops have invited Fr Paul Turner to present a number of workshops throughout the country. Fr Turner will present workshops to the priests of the six dioceses as well as a National Workshop for Deacons and Liturgical Ministers.
Paul Turner is pastor of Saint Munchin Parish in Cameron, Missouri and its mission, Saint Aloysius in Maysville. A priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph, he holds a doctorate in sacred theology from Sant'Anselmo in Rome.
Fr Paul Turner
A prolific writer, Fr Paul's books include A Guide to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (LTP, 2002) and Let Us Pray: A Guide to the Rubrics of Sunday Mass (The Liturgical Press, 2006).
He is a former President of the North American Academy of Liturgy and a team member for the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. He serves as a facilitator for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).
To download Fr Turner's talks, click on the Resources icon above.
Five ways to “get more” out of Mass
Your baptismal rights and responsibilities
When we graduate, our diploma says we have “rights and responsibilities” that our degree confers on us. So too does our baptism. In the Mass, you have the right to understand what you are doing and to participate as fully as possible. It’s your pastor’s duty to ensure that you’re aware of what’s happening, why, and what it means. This happens through good catechesis, but it also happens naturally when the Mass is celebrated well. It’s also the pastor’s duty to make sure you can actively engage in the Mass. This is because your full participation in the Mass is actually the best way you learn how to be Christian! The Church says it this way: [T]his full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit. (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 11) Although it’s your pastor’s duty to ensure your liturgical rights, you also have responsibilities. That responsibility is to come to Mass prepared and ready to participate in it as best you can. Here are five ways to help you do just that.
1) Pray daily
Praying is a skill you have to practice. To participate as best we can at Sunday Mass, we each have to pray daily. Daily prayer attunes our eyes, ears, and hearts to God who is always present to us every moment of the day. This may be hard. Who has time to pray? But remember that prayer is first about listening to God; it’s not so much about saying things to God. So if all you can do is spend one minute of silence each day, that’s a great start to a discipline of prayer. Try to incorporate stillness along with that silence, and in that one minute, focus just on listening to God in the silence. As part of your daily prayer, find some time during the week to read the Scriptures assigned for the upcoming Sunday. (You can find them at the United States bishops’ website: usccb.org.) Sunday shouldn’t be the first time you encounter these readings.
2) Bring more than yourself to Mass
If you want to get more out of Mass, you have to bring more than yourself to it.
- In your mind and heart, bring the names of those people who have asked you to pray for them;
- those you love who are hurting this week;
- those people and places in the news that are suffering.
- Bring your joys, things you are grateful for this week;
- and your sorrows, your burdens, regrets and worries this week.
- Bring money...no kidding.
Giving money at Mass is really not optional. Our Christian sacrifice is not some vague theoretical idea. We have to give something of ourselves that is a real sacrifice—something we’d rather not give up. For most of us today, that’s money. The collection at Mass isn’t just a way the church pays its bills. It’s primarily the way we bring ourselves— “the work of human hands” along with the “fruit of the earth”—to the altar. That’s why the collection is brought forward with the bread and wine we use at Mass. The money we put in the basket helps the church do the mission of Christ—yes, by keeping the lights on, but also by funding the activities and people of the church who help the poor, teach the faith, prepare the liturgy, visit the sick. Giving money at Mass is also a way we express our trust in God. Remember the widow in the gospel who gave just two pennies to the Temple while others gave much more (Mk 12:41 -44; Lk 21:1-4)? Jesus said she gave the most because she gave out of her lack while the others gave from their surplus. So don’t worry if you can’t give a lot of money. Give what you can, then think about giving just a few dollars more. Lastly, bring your voice. Like putting money in the collection, singing is not optional. If you think you have an awful voice, make it part of your sacrifice to give back to God what God gave you! If you can’t bring yourself to do even that, then at least pick up the songbook and pretend to sing. Part of your responsibility is to encourage others to take their responsibility seriously too. Others will feel more comfortable singing if the people around them are singing or at least look like they’re singing too. So don’t hinder someone else’s singing by keeping silent when it’s time for everyone to sing.
3) Practice silence and stillness at Mass
Once you’ve been praying daily, it’s a little easier to do this step at Mass. Try to come to Mass early so you can have a few moments of silence before the Mass begins. Now, the room itself doesn’t have to be silent for you to find some quiet space in yourself to focus on what you’re about to do. So don’t go shushing those around you before Mass—that pretty much defeats the purpose of quieting yourself. It just puts you in a bad mood and doesn’t win you more friends at church. Remember, Jesus was able to fall asleep in the boat even while a storm raged all around him and his disciples (Mt 8:23-27). So be like Jesus if your neighbors aren’t as quiet as you’d like them to be. In fact, just start your Sunday Mass experience right and offer up a prayer for them. During Mass, try to practice some silence and stillness at three appointed times: 1. At the Act of Penitence at the beginning of Mass and after each invitation to pray (“Let us pray”); these silences give us time to call to mind our sins and to offer our own silent prayers. 2. After the readings and the homily; in these silences we meditate on what we’ve heard; and 3. after everyone has shared in Communion; here we each give thanks and praise to God in our hearts.
If you can, accompany your silence with some stillness as well. Closing your eyes, slowing your breathing, and quieting your body will help you to focus your mind and heart.
4) Actively seek Christ at Mass
There are several ways Christ is present at Mass. Christ is present most especially in the Eucharist, and most of us learned that Christ is also present in the person of the priest who leads us in prayer. Christ is also present in the Scriptures, so much so that when we hear them read aloud at Mass, we believe that it is Christ speaking. Last but perhaps most essentially, Christ is present in the people when they gather to sing and pray, for Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). This last place may be the hardest for us to see Christ readily (remember those noisy neighbors?). But to be part of the church, we have to gather with others and learn to pray well with them, too, even if we don’t know them or even like them.
- So look for Christ in someone new at Mass,
- and look for Christ in someone you might not get along with. That may be the person sitting right next to you; or it might be that person at church who simply gets on your nerves that day. Try to see them as God sees them: as one of his own beloved children.
- See Christ as you share the Sign of Peace. Look the person in the eye, and see in them Christ in disguise.
- Look for Christ in what you see: a piece of artwork in the church you’ve never noticed before; the mother who makes the Sign of the Cross on her baby; the way the sunlight shines through a piece of stained glass.
- Then listen for Christ in the Scriptures and homily, but also in the songs and prayers, in the silence and in the chatter of toddlers, in the voices of those who sing and pray with you.
Finally, seek Christ in what you do. When you make the Sign of the Cross, do so slowly, intentionally. When you genuflect or bow, stand, sit, or kneel, do so reverently and actively, that is, attend to what you’re doing and place your focus on what’s happening in the Mass at that moment.
5) Take more than yourself and the bulletin home
As you leave the church, think of one thing that you want to remember from Mass this week. Maybe it’s a word or a song you heard, or a person or a thing at church you saw. Or a feeling you had at a particular moment at Mass. Take this memory with you, and pray with it during the week. Ask yourself what might God be asking you to do or learn this week because of this memory he has given you.
Pope Francis' Catechesis on the Holy Mass
The “Heart” of the Church: Pope Francis’ Catechesis on the Holy Mass
Pope Francis offered a fifteen-part catechesis on the Mass from November 2017 to April 2018, during his weekly General Audience at the Vatican. His purpose was “to rediscover…the beauty that is hidden in the Eucharistic celebration and that, once revealed, gives full meaning to each person’s life” (Nov. 8, 2017). In his catechesis, the Holy Father drew on a variety of sources: Sacred Scripture, liturgical texts, the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Church Fathers. Covered in this two-part series, however, will be the Pope’s personal insights about the Mass: Part I focuses on the Introductory Rites and Liturgy of the Word, while Part II will treat his reflections on the Liturgy of the Eucharist and, by means of the Concluding Rites, the mission to which the Eucharist commits the People of God.
This section is credited to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Introductory Rites and Liturgy of the Word (Part I)
Initial Considerations – November 8–December 13, 2017
The Pope begins with a simple yet profound premise: “Mass is prayer; rather, it is prayer par excellence, the loftiest, the most sublime, and at the same time the most ‘concrete.’ In fact it is the loving encounter with God through his Word and the Body and Blood of Jesus. It is an encounter with the Lord” (Nov. 15). “Without Christ we are condemned to be dominated by everyday weariness, with its worries, and by fear of the future. The Sunday encounter with the Lord gives us the strength to experience the present with confidence and courage, and to go forth with hope. For this reason we Christians go to encounter the Lord on Sunday, in the Eucharistic celebration” (Dec. 13). “[T]he greatest grace,” said the Holy Father, “[is] being able to feel that the Mass, the Eucharist, is the privileged moment to be with Jesus and, through him, with God and with brothers and sisters” (Nov. 15). This is so because “[t]he Eucharist is a wondrous event in which Jesus Christ, our life, makes himself present. Participating in the Mass ‘is truly living again the redemptive passion and death of our Lord. It is a visible manifestation: the Lord makes himself present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world’” (Nov. 8). For this reason, Pope Francis advises, “As we enter the church to celebrate Mass, let us think about this: I am going to Calvary, where Jesus gave his life for me. In this way the spectacle disappears; the small talk disappears; the comments and these things that distance us from something so beautiful as the Mass, Jesus’ triumph” (Nov. 22).
Introductory Rites – December 20, 2017–January 10, 2018
Pope Francis first draws out the profound meaning of the Sign of the Cross. “The Mass begins with the Sign of the Cross. The whole prayer moves, so to speak, within the space of the Most Holy Trinity – ‘In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’ – which is the space of infinite communion; it has as its beginning and end the love of the Triune God, made manifest and given to us in the Cross of Christ. In fact his Paschal Mystery is the gift of the Trinity, and the Eucharist flows ever from his pierced Heart” (Dec. 20). The Penitential Act acknowledges the twofold nature of sin. “It is good to emphasize that we confess to being sinners both to God and to our brothers and sisters: this helps us understand the dimension of sin which, while separating us from God, also divides us from our brothers and sisters, and vice versa. Sin severs: sin severs the relationship with God and it severs the relationship with brothers and sisters, relationships within the family, in society and in the community: sin always severs; it separates; it divides” (Jan. 3, 2018). The Pope also highlights the importance of silence in liturgical prayer. In the Collect, “[t]he priest says ‘let us pray’ and then there is a brief silence, and each one thinks about the things they need, that they wish to ask for in the prayer. The silence is not confined to the absence of words but rather to preparing oneself to listen to other voices: the one in our heart and, above all, the voice of the Holy Spirit” (Jan. 10).
Liturgy of the Word – January 31–February 14, 2018
Emphasis on the living dialogue between God and his people marks the Holy Father’s catechesis on the Liturgy of the Word. “The pages of the Bible cease to be writings and become living words, spoken by God. It is God, who through the reader, speaks to us and questions us, we who listen with faith” (Jan. 31). Similarly, we must listen to the Gospel “with an open heart, because it is the living Word. Saint Augustine writes: ‘The Gospel is the mouth of Christ. He is seated in heaven, but he has not stopped speaking on earth’” (Feb. 7). Pope Francis vividly describes the power of the Word of God: it “makes a pathway within us. We listen to it with our ears and it passes to our hearts; it does not remain in our ears; it must go to the heart. And from the heart, it passes to the hands, to good deeds. This is the path which the Word of God follows: from our ears to our heart and hands” (Jan. 31). “The Lord speaks for everyone, Pastors and the faithful… The Lord comforts, calls, brings forth sprouts of a new and reconciled life. And this is through his Word. His Word knocks at the heart and changes hearts!” (Feb. 14).
In the Homily, the priest or deacon “is not doing something of his own, but is preaching, giving voice to Jesus; he is preaching the Word of Jesus” (Feb. 7). This, too, is a place for silence: “Therefore, after the homily, a moment of silence allows the seed received to settle in the soul, so that intentions to heed what the Spirit has suggested to each person may sprout” (Feb. 14). Preparation is also important. “How do we prepare a homily, dear priests, deacons, bishops?,” asks the Pope. “With prayer, by studying the Word of God and by making a clear and brief summary” (Feb. 7). Next comes the Profession of Faith, or Creed, which highlights “an essential nexus between listening and faith. They are linked. Indeed, this – faith – does not arise from human imagination, but, as Saint Paul recalls, ‘comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ’ (Rom 10:17). Thus, faith is nourished by what is heard and leads to the Sacrament” (Feb. 14). Finally, the Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful) concludes the Liturgy of the Word, exhorting us “to turn our gaze to God, who takes care of all his children” (Feb. 14).
The Liturgy of the Word is integral to the celebration of the Mass, says Pope Francis, “because we gather precisely to listen to what God has done and still intends to do for us. It is an experience which occurs ‘live’ and not through hearsay because ‘when the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, proclaims the Gospel’ (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 29; cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 7, 33)” (Jan. 31).
The Liturgy of the Eucharist and Concluding Rites (Part II)
Liturgy of the Eucharist – February 28–March 21, 2018 In his catechesis on the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Pope Francis emphasizes that “through its holy signs, the Sacrifice of the new covenant sealed by Jesus on the altar of the Cross is made continually present by the Church (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 47). The Cross was the first Christian altar, and when we approach the altar to celebrate Mass, our memory turns to the altar of the Cross where the first sacrifice was made” (Feb. 28, 2018).
When the bread and wine are brought up, “we present to him the offering of our life so that it may be transformed by the Holy Spirit in the Sacrifice of Christ and become with him a single spiritual offering pleasing to the Father… May the spirituality of self-giving that this moment of Mass teaches us illuminate our days, our relationships with others, the things we do, the suffering we encounter, helping us to build up the earthly city in the light of the Gospel” (Feb. 28). Then, “in the prayer over the offerings… the priest asks God to accept the gifts offered by the Church, invoking the fruit of the extraordinary exchange between our poverty and his richness” (Feb. 28).
Turning to the Eucharistic Prayer, the Holy Father explains its constituent parts, and then concludes, “No one and nothing is forgotten in the Eucharistic Prayer, but every thing is attributed to God, as is recalled by the doxology which concludes it. No one is forgotten” (Mar. 7). This prayer teaches us “to cultivate three attitudes that should never be lacking in Jesus’ disciples. The three attitudes: first, learn ‘to give thanks, always and everywhere,’ and not only on certain occasions, when all is going well; second, to make of our life a gift of love, freely given; third, to build concrete communion, in the Church and with everyone. Thus, this central Prayer of the Mass teaches us, little by little, to make of our whole life a ‘Eucharist,’ that is, an act of thanksgiving” (Mar. 7).
Pope Francis begins his catechesis on the Communion Rite by posing a question from the Our Father: “when you say ‘Father,’ do you feel that he is Father, your Father, the Father of mankind, the Father of Jesus Christ? Do you have a relationship with this Father? When we pray the ‘Our Father,’ we connect with the Father who loves us, but it is the Spirit who gives us this connection, this feeling of being God’s children” (Mar. 14). The Rite of Peace similarly challenges us, for “Christ’s peace cannot take root in a heart incapable of experiencing fraternity and of restoring it after it has been wounded. Peace is granted by the Lord: he grants us the grace to forgive those who have offended us” (Mar. 14). Next, the Fraction of Bread, which the Pope recalls as “the revelatory gesture that allowed the disciples to recognize him after his Resurrection… In the Eucharistic Bread, broken for the life of the world, the prayerful assembly recognizes the true Lamb of God, namely, Christ the Redeemer, and implores him: ‘Have mercy on us… grant us peace’” (Mar. 14).
In his catechesis on Holy Communion, the Pope emphasizes that it is a transformative encounter. “Can I say that when I receive communion during Mass, the Lord encounters my frailty? Yes! We can say so because this is true! The Lord encounters our frailty so as to lead us back to our first call: that of being in the image and likeness of God. This is the environment of the Eucharist. This is prayer” (Nov. 15, 2017). He continues along this theme:
Although we are the ones who stand in procession to receive Communion… in reality it is Christ who comes towards us to assimilate us in him. There is an encounter with Jesus! To nourish oneself of the Eucharist means to allow oneself to be changed by what we receive. Saint Augustine helps us understand this when he talks about the light he received when he heard Christ say to him: ‘I am the food of strong men; grow, and you shall feed upon me; nor shall you convert me, like the food of your flesh, into you, but you shall be converted into me’ (Confessions VII, 10, 16: PL 32, 742). Each time we receive Communion, we resemble Jesus more; we transform ourselves more fully into Jesus. (Mar. 21, 2018)
When we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, our reply of “Amen” implies a commitment. “You reply ‘Amen’ to the priest who distributes the Eucharist saying ‘the Body of Christ’; that is, you recognize the grace and the commitment involved in becoming the Body of Christ. Because when you receive the Eucharist, you become the Body of Christ” (Mar. 21). This, says the Pope, is another place for silence. “After Communion, silence, silent prayer helps us treasure in our hearts the gift which we have received. To slightly extend that moment of silence, speaking to Jesus in our hearts, helps us a great deal, as does singing a psalm or a hymn of praise (cf. GIRM, 88) that can help us be with the Lord” (Mar. 21).
Concluding Rites – April 4, 2018 The Holy Father concludes by highlighting the transformative power of the Mass, beginning with the Prayer After Communion: “On behalf of everyone, with that prayer the priest turns to God to thank him for having shared the banquet and to ask that what was received may transform our lives. The Eucharist makes us strong in order to produce fruit in good works to live as Christians” (Mar. 21). He adds, “We must not forget that we celebrate the Eucharist in order to become Eucharistic men and women. What does this mean? It means allowing Christ to act within our deeds: that his thoughts may be our thoughts, his feelings our own, his choices our choices too. And this is holiness: doing as Christ did is Christian holiness” (Apr. 4). What, then, is the power of the Eucharist in the life of the believer? In the life of the Church? “Every time I leave Mass, I must exit better than how I entered, with more life, with more strength, with more willingness to bear Christian witness” (Apr. 4).
“Without Christ we are condemned to be dominated by everyday weariness, with its worries, and by fear of the future. The Sunday encounter with the Lord gives us the strength to experience the present with confidence and courage, and to go forth with hope. For this reason we Christians go to encounter the Lord on Sunday, in the Eucharistic celebration” (Dec. 13, 2017). Finally, the Mass lifts our gaze from the daily path we trod to the glory that awaits us in heaven. “Carrying in earthen vessels the treasure of the union with Christ (cf. 2 Cor 4:7), we constantly need to return to the holy altar, until in heaven, we will fully taste the beatitude of the marriage supper of the Lamb (cf. Rev 19:9)” (Apr. 4, 2018).
Pope Francis sees the Mass as “a loving encounter” (Nov. 15), “a privileged moment” (Nov. 15), “a wondrous event” (Nov. 8), “Jesus’ triumph” (Nov. 22). May his catechesis lead the People of God to a more loving and faith-filled encounter with the Lord in the Eucharist.
Excerpts from the General Audiences of Pope Francis, © 2017, 2018 Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with permission. All rights reserved. The Holy Father’s catechesis is available at http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences.index.html.
Celebrating Masses with Children
Children are the foundation of the Church's future. It is important that masses with children are joyful and exciting. Download, print, and use these resources to enable the mass to reach its full potential, resources have been produced to make the preparation process easier for masses with children.