Monday, March 8, 2010

Pax Sinica Article: Mass (Part IV) (March 1)

Rite of Election leads to Easter

Last week the Rite of Election was celebrated in our archdiocese. We are looking forward to seeing the catechumens received into the Church at Easter. They will then be able to receive Holy Communion with us.    

Jesus, our daily Bread   

At the Mass, after the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest invites the people to pray the Our Father, the prayer that can best dispose the assembly for Holy Communion. St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the Our Father, "not only teaches us to ask, but also directs all our affections."    

The petition "Give us this day our daily bread" is at the centre of the seven petitions of the Our Father, and it reminds us that Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is our true food.   

The last petition, "Deliver us from evil," is developed in the beautiful prayer the priest then prays for us. He asks God to deliver us from evil, free us from sin, and protect us from anxiety. He also expresses joyful hope for the coming of Christ. The people respond with the doxology: "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours, now and forever." "Doxology" means "a word of praise." Using doxologies to conclude prayers is an ancient practice in the Church. This practice reminds us that the ultimate purpose of prayer is to praise and worship God.   

The peace of the Lord   

After the doxology the priest says a prayer to Jesus for peace and unity in the Church. He then greets the people and invites them to offer each other a sign of peace. This practice is suggested by the words of Our Lord: "Therefore, if at the moment you are bringing your gift to the altar you recall that your brother has a grievance against you, leave your gift there at the altar. Go first and seek a reconciliation with your brother, then come and offer your gift" (Mt. 5:23-24).    

Jesus, Lamb of God   

After exchanging signs of peace the people pray the prayer that begins, "Lamb of God." It reminds us that peace and sin are mutually exclusive. The breaking of the host by the priest reminds us of the death of Jesus and of our sharing in His Body. The priest breaks off a small piece from the large host and drops it into the chalice to mingle with the Precious Blood. The co-mingling of the Body and Blood of Christ symbolizes the resurrection. In the risen body of Christ, body and blood are reunited.    

This co-mingling also symbolizes the unity of the Church. In the early days of the Church pieces of the host from the Pope's Mass were broken off and taken to other churches and mingled with their Eucharistic species to signify that all the members are one body in Christ.    

The priest shows the Host to the people and, imitating St. John the Baptist, declares to the people that Jesus is the "Lamb of God." The people express humility and contrition by saying an adaptation of the prayer addressed by the centurion to Christ, "Lord, I am not worthy...."    

Bread from heaven   

The priest completes the sacrifice by receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. He then distributes Holy Communion to the people. For each communicant, the priest raises the host and says, "The Body of Christ." The communicant makes an act of faith by saying "Amen."   

After purifying the vessels, the priest concludes the Communion rite with the Post-Communion Prayer.    

Go in peace   

At the end of Mass, the priest greets the people, gives the final blessing, and says, "The Mass is ended, go in peace." The people respond "Thanks be to God." This bidding "Go, the Mass is ended," is not an invitation to leave the church, but an exhortation to go and live the Mass: that is, to become another Christ.

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從甄選禮到領聖體

上週,教區舉行了慕道者甄選禮;我們期待慕道的兄弟姊妹們在這復活節接受聖洗聖事後,能與我們一起領受耶穌聖體。

日用之糧

彌撒中的「感恩經」後,神父帶領信眾一起誦唸「天主經」,使能善備領聖體。聖多瑪斯St. Thomas Aquinas指出「天主經」不但教我們如何向天父祈求,也誘導我們的情感。「求祢賞給我們日用的食糧」置於「天主經」七個祈求的中間,提醒耶穌聖體是我們真正的食糧。在最後一個祈求「但救我們免於凶惡」,神父接上了為信眾禱告的經文,祈求天主自災禍中拯救我們,保護我們脫免罪惡, 亦表達了期待基督重臨的喜悅,眾則以讚美詞和應:「天下萬國,普世權威,一切榮耀,永歸於祢。」以讚美詞結束禱告,乃聖教會的傳統; 這傳統提醒我們祈禱的最終目的,是光榮朝拜天主。

天主的平安

讚美詞之後,神父向耶穌祈求聖教會的平安與團結,再向信眾致候,邀請他們互祝平安。這平安禮啟源主耶穌的話: 「所以,你若在祭壇前,要獻你的禮物時,在那裏想起你的弟兄有什麼怨你的事,就把你的禮物留在那裏,留在祭壇前,先去與你的弟兄和好,然後再來獻你的禮物(瑪竇福音5:23-24)」。

天主的羔羊

互祝平安禮後,齊向「天主的羔羊」祈求,喚醒我們明白「平安」是與「罪惡」不能共存的。神父把聖體擘開,象徵基督的苦難聖死,也表示我們分享同一的聖體。神父從擘開的聖體中把一小片放入聖爵中,聖體與聖血的融和,象徵基督的復活: 因為復活後, 主耶穌的體血不再分離。聖體與聖血的融和也象徵教會的合一:早期聖教會從教宗的彌撒中,把擘開了聖體的小片,送到不同的聖堂,融放在聖爵內,象徵不同地方的信徒,在基督內合而為一體。神父面對信眾,高舉聖體,仿效洗者若翰,宣稱耶穌為「天主的羔羊」,而信眾亦表達內心的謙遜和痛悔之心,借用當年百夫長的說話,向耶穌說:「主,我當不起祢到我心裏來!只要祢說一句話,我的靈魂就會痊癒。」

天上神糧

神父領受基督的聖體聖血後,完成了彌撒的祭獻,隨後便送聖體給信眾:他向每位前來領聖體的信眾,微舉聖體,嚴正地念「基督聖體」,信眾回應「亞孟」,以表達對這奥蹟的信德。

潔淨了聖祭用聖皿後,神父以「領聖體後經」結束「領聖體禮儀」。

平安遣散禮

結束彌撒時,神父降福信眾,向他們說:「彌撒禮成。」信眾異口同聲答道:「感謝天主!」此時的遣散,並非着重要求信眾的離去,而是敦促信眾離開聖堂在外的生活,要「活現彌撒、活出基督」!