Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Monday, February 12, 2007

The Sacred Liturgy Nos. 11-15

11. The Liturgy of the Word
The Mass is traditionally divided into two principal parts: The Liturgy of the Word, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In the first part of the Mass we encounter God in His Word.
The Liturgy of the Word follows a distinct progression. First, the Word of God is proclaimed in the Readings and we respond to it in the Psalm. Second, the Word is explained in the Homily. Third, we stand to affirm what we have heard and to profess our faith in the Creed. Finally, nourished by the Word, we turn to the Lord and pour out our petitions in the Prayer of the Faithful.
When we hear the Readings, we do not hear human words but the voice of God speaking to us. We believe that Christ, the Word of God, is present to us in the celebration of the Liturgy through the proclamation of His Word.
By listening attentively to the Readings, and responding to them through the singing of the Psalm, we actively participate in the work of God who comes to speak to His people.
GIRM 55-56

12. The Liturgy of the Word (Cont’d)…
Among the most significant liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council was the increase of the use of Scripture at Mass. On Sundays and Solemnities, there are three readings, and on weekdays two. The readings follow a three-year cycle on Sundays and a two-year cycle on weekdays.
On Sundays, there is an Old Testament and a New Testament reading. Often these and the Gospel contain a common theme based on a liturgical season, feast, event in the life of Jesus, or aspect of our faith. The weekday readings often tell a story continuously over several days.
After the First Reading comes the Responsorial Psalm. Singing (or reciting) the Psalms provides a meditation on the Word of God for the whole congregation.
The Liturgy of the Word is to be celebrated without haste. Silence is to be observed after the readings to allow the Holy Spirit to inspire personal prayer. Reflecting on the lessons found in God’s Word and the themes of the readings is an essential part of the liturgy.
The Scripture readings are so integral to the liturgy that they may never be replaced by other texts or hymns.
GIRM 56-59, 61

13. The Liturgy of the Word (Cont’d)…
The Liturgy of the Word reaches its high point in the Gospel. Jesus is present in His Word and speaks to us as the Gospel is proclaimed.
The Liturgy teaches us the singular importance of the Gospel by the signs of reverence associated with it. Before the Gospel, we sing an Acclamation, usually the Alleluia and verse. During Lent another acclamation in praise of Jesus is used, since “Alleluia” (Hebrew) is an acclamation of rejoicing, and Lent is a season of penance. Often, on Sundays and other solemn occasions, a procession precedes the Gospel. The Book of Gospels (a special liturgical book containing the Gospel readings) is carried between two candle bearers and incensed. Because the Book of Gospels holds a special place in the Mass, only it may be incensed, not the Lectionary.
If a Deacon is present, it is his place to read the Gospel. He seeks a special blessing from the celebrant before reading the Gospel. If the priest reads the Gospel, he says a special prayer first. Either of these ask the Lord to be in the minister’s heart and on his lips that he may worthily proclaim the gospel. Afterward, the minister prays silently: “may the words of the Gospel wipe away our sins.”
GIRM 60, 63-63

14. The Liturgy of the Word (Cont’d)…
After the readings comes the Homily, an explanation of the Readings and the prayers of the Mass directed toward the particular congregation. It is part of the teaching and sanctifying offices of the Church’s ordained ministers; thus only bishops, priests and deacons may preach. The Homily is an integral part of the Mass, for in it the mysteries of the liturgy are explained for the benefit of the faithful. Silence should be observed after the Homily for personal reflection.
Nourished by God’s Word, and having heard it explained, the congregation stands and affirms the faith by reciting the Creed. The Creed allows us to call to mind our faith, in the official formula, before these great mysteries are celebrated in the Eucharist.
The Nicene Creed, recited in the Mass, dates back to the Councils of Nicea (325 AD) and Constantinople (381 AD), when the Church Fathers met and defined the essential aspects of our faith, which the Church has always professed. The Creed is said on Sundays and solemnities. The Creed may be sung or recited.
Reflecting on the Word of God, the Homily, and the Creed, provide tremendous spiritual nourishment and lessons for a happy and holy life.
GIRM 65-68

15. The Liturgy of the Word (Cont’d)…
After the recitation of the Creed, the Liturgy of the Word concludes with the Prayer of the Faithful. These prayers of the whole assembly are an exercise of their baptismal priesthood, the role of all the baptized members of the Church, who share in the priesthood of Christ, to offer prayers. The assembly offers prayers to God for the salvation of all, according to a particular formula: for the needs of the Church; for civil authorities and the salvation of the world; for the needs of persons burdened with any kind of difficulty; for the needs of the local community. At celebrations such as weddings and funerals, the intentions ought to reflect the nature of the occasion.
The Celebrant begins the Prayer with an introduction and concludes it with a prayer. The individual intentions are read or sung by the Deacon or lector from the pulpit. Usually, the people respond with an acclamation (“Lord, hear our prayer”). The intentions are usually written by someone from the particular community. Care should be taken that they are composed well, are succinct, and truly reflect the prayers of the assembly.
GIRM 70-71

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