Truly Take Part in Mass: Explain the Proceedings
Antonio Tonin, East London – I was intrigued by Frans van Neerijnen’s letter on making the Church more attractive to the faithful to stem the loss of Catholics to Pentecostal churches.
May I offer a suggestion about helping us to truly take part in the Mass, about which I feel strongly?
The Sunday Missal covers every Sunday of all three cycles as comprehensively as possible, but it is the use and manner in which it is put across that, I feel, needs to be overhauled.
Let’s take the first part of the Missal for any Sunday, which contains the entrance antiphon, collect, first reading, responsorial psalm, second reading, Alleluia, and Gospel. Up to this point it is easy to follow exactly the form of the Mass, including the homily/sermon.
But following the rest of the Mass really gets tricky at the start of the Eucharistic prayer. There follow 34 different prefaces which cover all the important reasons for the Mass.
Here’s the first problem. Inevitably, the priest launches into a preface without giving the congregation any idea which one it is, so they are unable to follow. At this point everyone’s attention is somewhat compromised by looking for the correct preface of the day.
Then follow the four Eucharistic prayers, with the variations of the Communicantes in the first Eucharistic prayer, followed by the other three. For me this is the central part of the Mass, and not the time to be paging through Eucharistic prayers to find the right one. In these circumstances it is just not possible to immerse oneself in the solemnity of the Eucharistic moment.
It wouldn’t take that much extra time for a member of the congregation, with the parish priest, to select and announce to the congregation during Mass, each Sunday, exactly what the correct prayers to use are and where to find them quickly.
I’m sure this would make for a much deeper appreciation for the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us all, when he said: “Do this in memory of me.”