• White Facebook Icon

© 2019 St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church


The Mass follows a “fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1346). Though the Mass is one uni ed act of worship, it consists of many parts, each with its own purpose and meaning. The entries in this article follow the order in which the parts occur in the Mass.


“The rites that precede the Liturgy of the Word, namely, the Entrance, the Greeting, the Penitential Act, the Kyrie, the Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the highest) and Collect, have the character of a beginning, an introduction, and a preparation.  eir purpose is to ensure that the faithful, who come together as one, establish communion and dispose themselves properly to listen to the word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist worthily” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal [GIRM], no. 46). 


“The [opening] prayer . . . through which the character of the celebration  nds expression” (GIRM, no. 54).  is prayer literally “collects” the prayers of all who are gathered into one prayer led by the priest celebrant.




“The main part of the Liturgy of the Word is made up of the readings from Sacred Scripture together with the chants occurring between them. As for the Homily, the Profession of Faith, and the Universal Prayer, they develop and conclude it” (GIRM, no. 55).


A brief, normative summary statement or profession of Christian faith.  The Nicene Creed, which is recited or chanted at Mass, comes from the Councils of Nicea (AD 325) and Constantinople (AD 381).


The central part of the Mass, also known as the Eucharistic Prayer or anaphora, which is the prayer of thanksgiving and consecration. It begins with the Preface Dialogue (i.e., “ e Lord be with you. . . . Lift up your hearts. . . . Let us give thanks to the Lord our God”) and concludes with a  nal Doxology (“ rough him, and with him, and in him”) and Amen.


The prayer petitioning the Father to send the Holy Spirit to sanctify offerings of bread and wine so that they may become the Body and Blood of Christ.


The consecration is that part of the Eucharistic Prayer during which the priest prays the Lord’s words of institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.  rough this prayer the bread and wine become the risen Body and Blood of Jesus.


From the Greek, meaning “remembrance.” We remember Jesus’ historical saving deeds in the liturgical action of the Church, which inspires thanksgiving and praise. Every Eucharistic Prayer contains an anamnesis or memorial in which the Church calls to mind the Passion, Resurrection, and glorious return of Christ Jesus.


A Christian prayer that gives praise and glory to God often in a special way to the three divine Persons of the Trinity. Liturgical prayers, including the Eucharistic Prayer, traditionally conclude with the Doxology “to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.”


The preparatory rites, consisting of the Lord’s Prayer, the Rite of Peace, and the Fraction, lead the faithful to Holy Communion (see GIRM, no. 80).  e Prayer after Communion expresses the Church’s gratitude for the mysteries celebrated and received.


The rite “by which the Church entreats peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament” (GIRM, no. 82).


“The Priest breaks the Eucharistic Bread. . . .  the gesture of breaking bread done by Christ at the Last Supper . . . in apostolic times gave the entire Eucharistic Action its name” (GIRM, no. 83).


Holy Communion, the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist.


The Real Presence Of Jesus Christ In The Sacrament Of The Eucharist: Basic Questions And Answers



Since the first century of her existence, the Church has considered the Mass a sacrifice. The earliest manual of the liturgy (before 90 A.D.) has this directive for the attendance of Sunday Mass.


"On the Lord's own day, assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks. But first confess your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure. However, no one quarreling with his brother may join your meeting until they are reconciled; your sacrifice must not be defiled (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, 14)."


Why is the Mass a true sacrifice? Because in the Mass the same Jesus Christ who offered Himself on Calvary now offers Himself on the altar. The Priest is the same, the Victim is the same, and the end or purpose is the same.


The Priest is the same Jesus Christ whose sacred person the ordained priest represents and in whose Name he offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice.


The Victim is the same, namely the Savior in His human nature, with His true Body and Blood, and His human free will. Only the manner of offering is different. On the Cross, the sacrifice was bloody; in the Mass it is unbloody because Christ is now in His glorified state. But the heart of sacrifice is the voluntary, total offering of oneself to God. Christ makes this voluntary offering in every Mass, signified by the separate consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Redeemer.


The end or purpose is the same, namely to give glory to God, to thank Him, to obtain His mercy, and to ask Him for our needs. But, as we have seen, whereas on Calvary Christ merited our salvation, it is mainly through the Mass that He now dispenses the riches of His saving grace.


Pocket Catholic Catechism, John A. Hardon, S.J., An Image Book, Published by Doubleday
Copyright © 1989 by John A. Hardon, All Rights Reserved


Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 2000. General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Liturgy Documentary Series 14. Washington, DC: USCCB, 2011. Excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, copyright © 2000, Libreria Editrice Vaticana–United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Excerpts from the English translation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal ©2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. (ICEL). Used with permission. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2010, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. Gratis permission is hereby granted to reproduce these materials for nonpro t educational use, when accompanied by the following acknowledgment: “Copyright © 2010 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. Used with permission. All rights reserved.” 


Fr. Robert Barron on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

“To the Concluding Rites belong the following: brief announcements . . . ; the Priest’s Greeting and Blessing . . . ; the Dismissal of the people by the Deacon or the Priest, so that each may go back to doing good works, praising and blessing God; the kissing of the altar by the Priest and the Deacon, followed by a profound bow to the altar by the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers” (GIRM, no. 90).