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The Communion Rite, The Dismissal
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ , or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.

No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since "no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord".

The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.

Pope Francis
Evangelii Gaudium
The Joy of the Gospel
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Lord, I trust that you are present and very much want to instruct me in your teachings.

In the same way that you demonstrate your love for me by spending this time with me, I want to express my love for you by dedicating this time to you with a spirit of faith, confidence and attention.

Here I am, Lord, to listen to you and respond with love.

Videos

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After Watching The Videos

Click on the section header below to reflect upon the topic and take action.


  1. Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (John 14:27). How can I open my life more fully to receive this gift of peace from Jesus?

  2. We are invited to the Lord's banquet every Sunday. Am I filled with awe and wonder at being invited so gratuitously or do I take the invitation for granted?

  3. Our secular culture has so impacted our Eucharist that we no longer see Sunday as the first day of the week - the Lord's Day - but as the final day of our weekend. What if I begin to see Mass as the spiritual offering I make as I begin each week rather than something I fit into my leisure activities? What impact would this have on the way I worship and the way I live my faith in the world?

  4. How would I respond to someone who does not go to Mass on Sunday because "I can pray and worship God on my own"?

  5. We are sent forth from each Mass to announce the good news of Christ and to give glory to God through our lives. How can I be His face and voice and hands and feet in my daily lives?

  6. Before receiving holy communion, I shall make my own proclamation of faith in the saving action of Christ.

  7. I shall visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament regularly in the Adoration Room.


In More Detail

Click the section headers below to read more on this week's topic.


The Communion Rite begins with the Lord's Prayer, the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples when they asked him how to pray. It has been called the prayer par excellence because when we pray it with Jesus, our voices blend with his and our hearts open to our Father in heaven. Jesus showed us how to address God with intimacy and trust. Because it addresses God as "our Father" and not "my Father", it is a prayer that is always prayed in union with the Church. For this reason, it was included in the Church's eucharistic liturgy in the apostolic period and has long been a prominent part of the Mass.


Like the Eucharist, the Lord's Prayer focuses on the present with an eye to the future. It exhorts us to pray for the coming of God's kingdom as we celebrate the Lord's presence in our midst (Matt 6:10). When prayed in eucharistic worship, the prayer expresses our longing for that time in which there will be no more sadness and pain, and sin and death have vanished, when salvation will be manifested in every corner of the globe and in every corner of our hearts. We pray with Jesus for the full realization, "on earth as it is in heaven," of that prayer He offered to the Father in Gethsemane immediately after the Last Supper: "your will be done".


The Lord's Prayer is referred to as a prayer of supplication - to worship God, to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, to thank Him for His blessings, to ask for things for ourselves, and to pray for the needs of others. In this aspect, we pray accordingly, with our hands extended in supplication instead of joining hands.


One of the ways the early Christians referred to the Eucharist was "our epiousios bread," which is usually translated in the Lord's Prayer as "our daily bread". Taken literally it means "super-essential," and it was translated by St. Jerome as "super substantial".


Biblical commentators suggested that early Christians coined this new word "epiousios", (it is found nowhere else in the ancient Greek language) to refer to their new experience of Eucharist, a unique meal like no other in which the risen Lord was present to his followers. Though the kingdom is coming in the future, we have a foretaste of that banquet today in "our bread" - "the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, 'medicine of immortality,' without which we have no life within us." (CCC 2837)

After our Lord's Prayer, the priest prays a prayer directed to Jesus Christ asking him for peace for his Church. This petition for peace is made for the Church as a whole but it is also made for her individual members that we may experience the peace of Christ in our own lives.


It is important to link this understanding of peace with the Mass itself. We petition our Lord for peace after he becomes miraculously present in the Blessed Sacrament, which means that we must find our inner peace from Christ himself. 


The Second Vatican Council has declared the Eucharist as the "source and summit" of the Christian life. In the midst of the world’s bustle and the temptations of evil, we find the source of our tranquillity, hope and faith in the Body of Christ, and we nourish this inner peace through our interior engagement in the liturgy and our fidelity to daily prayer and action.

St. Paul ended several of this letters urging the believers to "greet one another with a holy kiss" (Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 1 Thes 5:26). It expressed Christian fellowship and self-giving love and, as a preparation for communion, a sign of reconciliation and unity between the members of the church. "Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift." (Matt 5:23-24). These scriptural references underscore the importance of this exchange of peace as a precursor to our encounter with Jesus in Holy Communion.

While exchanging the sign of peace, it is easy for us to lose sight of its meaning and to allow it to devolve into a mere greeting and casual conversation.


Prior to the exchange of peace, the priest speaks the words of our Lord, "Peace I leave you, my peace I give you." We are thus acknowledging Christ's presence in each other and sharing the peace that we have received from Christ with each other. It is a deep spiritual reality that is outwardly expressed in a sombre manner, in our exchange of peace.

In the Gloria, we address Jesus Christ as "Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us." In the Agnus Dei (Latin for Lamb of God), We pray, "Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us...." Then the priest elevates the host and chalice and proclaims "Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the lamb".


Why do we address Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God three times in the liturgy?


Christ is our "paschal lamb" (1 Cor 5:7) who was sacrificed for our salvation and whose flesh and blood we eat and drink in remembrance of his saving death and resurrection. The origin of the title reaches back to Abraham who, when his son Isaac was carrying the wood for his own sacrifice, assured him, "God himself will provide the lamb" (Gen 22:8). To commemorate God's liberation of the Hebrews from Egypt, God instituted the Passover feast, in which every family was to take a pure, unblemished lamb to sacrifice, mark their homes with its blood, then eat its roasted flesh in a ritual meal of remembrance.


When John the Baptist cried out "Here is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! " (John 1:29,36), the fulfilment of God's ancient promise to provide the lamb was made known. The gospel of John then develops the reality of Jesus as the Passover sacrifice and meal. As Jesus is handed over to death, the gospel declares that it was the day of preparation for the Passover lambs in Jerusalem. The true Lamb of God would be sacrificed at the very moment the Passover lambs were sacrificed in the temple. In this way, John unites the sacrifice of Jesus with the Eucharist of his church. Christ's glorious death and resurrection is the Passover of our liberation, the paschal mystery re-presented in every Mass.


Every time we chant, "Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world," we are speaking in the present tense. Christ's work of redemption did not conclude with this death, but is continual and ongoing. The Lamb of God continues to make intercession to the Father. The sacrifice of Christ and the Eucharist are one, and at the Mass the church is present at this single redemptive event. Christ's perpetual sacrifice is forever valid and conferring salvation. Every Mass is offered for the expiation of our sins.


In the Book of Revelation, "the Lamb" is the principal image of Christ. The visionary see the Lamb, slain in sacrifice though standing in God's presence. The vision is an expression of the timeless sacrifice of Jesus being offered eternally to the Father. All of creation participates in this cosmic worship of God in the heavenly liturgy. Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist on earth, we become part of the everlasting offering of Christ that John describes in his vision.

While we recite the "Lamb of God", the priest breaks the Eucharistic host in a symbolic action known as the "fraction" or the breaking of bread. During this action, the priest will imperceptibly break off a small piece of the Eucharistic bread and drop it in the chalice while praying silently: "May this mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it."


For the ancient Jews, at the start of a meal the head of the family would take bread, recite a blessing, and then would break the bread and share it with those present.


Jesus himself broke bread on four occasions in the gospels, each time with Eucharistic overtones. The first two took place in two accounts in which he miraculously multiplied loaves to feed large crowds (Mt 14:19; 15:36; Mk 6:41; 8:6; Lk 9:16). In Matthew's gospel, Jesus took loaves of bread, blessed them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the multitudes (Mt 14:19). On the third occasion when Jesus broke bread, Matthew uses these same four verbs when narrating the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper - "Jesus took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to the disciples saying ....." (Mt 26:26). The fourth instance was the Easter account of Jesus appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The disciples recognised Jesus when he "took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them" (Lk 24:30).


The Acts of the Apostles describes how the early Church gathered for the breaking of bread - a term which was associated with the Eucharist in the gospels and in the letters of St. Paul. Even before the building of churches, the first Christians following St. Paul in Troas gathered with him on the first day of the week "to break bread" (Acts 20:7,11). It is listed as one of the four chief characteristics of their lives, alongside with devotion to the apostles' teachings, prayer, and fellowship (Acts 2:42).


St. Paul himself not only used the expression of breaking bread to describe the Eucharist. He also saw rich symbolism in the ritual of many people partaking of the same loaf of bread - the deep unity Christians share when we partake of the one Body of Christ: "The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf" (1 Cor 10:16-17). Therefore, when the priest breaks the Eucharistic host in the Mass, the ritual brings to mind this grand tradition of breaking bread - from the Old Testament Jews, to Jesus to the Apostles and the early Church, down to the present day.

In the Passover as in other Jewish sacrificial rites, it was not enough to have the sacrificial lamb killed. Eating it was an essential part of the Passover celebration. A communion meal followed the sacrifice, and it was the shared meal that expressed the sealing of the covenant and forged communion between the participants and God. Jesus is the new Passover lamb who was sacrificed for our sins. It is fitting therefore that there is a communion meal accompanying his sacrifice on the cross - a meal in which we partake of the true Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.


It is only when it retains these two aspects that the Mass fully expresses the nature of Christ's gift and of Christian life. Christ not only gave himself up to death for our redemption, but he rose to give us the fullness of life. Life as his disciple is not only self-giving and sacrifice, but also joy and community. These aspects of the Eucharist are inseparable: the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated, and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord's body and blood.


The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord's body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us. (CCC 1382)


The altar, around which the Church is gathered in the celebration of the Eucharist, represents the two aspects of the same mystery: the altar of the sacrifice and the table of the Lord. This is all the more so since the Christian altar is the symbol of Christ himself, present in the midst of the assembly of his faithful, both as the victim offered for our reconciliation and as food from heaven who is giving himself to us. (CCC 1383)


In addition to memorializing Christ's death, the eucharistic celebration also commemorates his resurrection and ascension to the Father - the complete paschal mystery. Jesus becomes present to us as the glorious victor over sin and death. He continues to make present in the Mass the redemption and salvation given by his unique sacrifice until he comes again. For this reason, the Eucharist is also a sacred banquet of his own body and blood. The spiritual nourishment of Communion empowers us to live ever more completely in the likeness of the Son, in his obedience, fidelity and love for the Father. In this holy banquet, we draw the strength to make our lives a complete gift to God and we are fed with the food of everlasting life.


The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: "Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." (CCC 1384)


The Mass looks backward as a memorial of Christ's sacrifice, forward as a foretaste of the heavenly banquet and to the present moment as the eucharistic Christ is incarnate in the lives of the individual believers and within the assembly of His Church. The Rite of Communion are the prayers and rituals that surround this intimate encounter when we receive the living Christ in a true, real and substantial manner: body, blood, soul and divinity.

Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist as spiritual nourishment because he loves us. God's whole plan for our salvation is directed to our participation in the life of the Holy Trinity. God does not merely send us good things from on high; instead, we are brought up into the inner life of God, the communion among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


Our sharing in this life begins with our Baptism, when by the power of the Holy Spirit we are joined to Christ, thus becoming adopted sons and daughters of the Father. It is strengthened and increased in Confirmation when the Holy Spirit dwells in us. It is nourished and deepened through our participation in the Eucharist. By eating the Body and drinking the Blood of Christ in the Eucharist we become united to the person of Christ through his humanity. In being united to the humanity of Christ we are at the same time united to His divinity. Our mortal and corruptible natures are transformed by being joined to the source of life.


"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me" (Jn 6:53-57).

The Book of Revelation, and indeed the entire Bible, leads up to the proclamation of the marriage of the Lamb and His bride. "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready" (Rev 19:7). This is an image of the perfect union of Christ and His Church in a love that is fruitful and eternal.


The Bridegroom-Lamb is Jesus, and the Bride represents us, the Church, whom Jesus is coming to wed. It is in this heavenly marriage between Jesus and the Church that we participate through the Eucharistic liturgy here on earth as a foretaste of the communion we hope to have with our divine bridegroom for all eternity. Therefore, when the priest says, "Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb," he echoes the angel's invitation to the wedding supper of the Lamb in the Book of Revelation. Then the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These words are true; they come from God.” (Rev 19:9).


Our divine Bridegroom comes to unite Himself to us in the most intimate way possible on earth, giving his very body and blood to us in the Eucharist. Like a bride who longs to be one with her groom, so our hearts should be filled with ardent longing for holy communion with our divine Bridegroom.

The most fundamental effect is the deepening of our union with Christ. Indeed, the Lord said: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (Jn 6:56). Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharist banquet. From this follow many other spiritual benefits. It also:


  • increases and renews our supernatural life;
  • cleanses us from past sins by wiping away venial sin;
  • strengthens our soul to resist sin in the future;
  • deepens our love for God and others;
  • joins us more intimately with the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ;
  • directs our concern for the physically and spiritually poor;
  • impels us to Christian unity to pray and work for the day when all Christians will believe in and receive the living Christ in Holy Communion.

(See CCC1391 - 1398)

Yes. Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is wholly present under the appearance either of bread or of wine in the Eucharist. Furthermore, Christ is wholly present in any fragment of the consecrated Host or in any drop of the Precious Blood.


Since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace. For pastoral reasons this manner of receiving communion has been legitimately established as the most common form in the Latin rite. But "the sign of communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the Eucharistic meal appears more clearly." (CCC 1390)

What he has consumed is truly the Body and Blood of Christ. A lack of faith on the part of the person eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ cannot change what these are, but it does prevent the person from obtaining the spiritual benefit, which is communion with Christ.


When we reverently receive the Blessed Sacrament during Holy Communion, we are saying something of the conviction we have in our faith. We are assenting to:


  • We believe that Jesus Christ is fully present under the appearance of this bread that we receive.
  • We believe that all His Body, the Church teaches, is true.
  • We declare that we are members of His Body, the Church.

Receiving Christ's Body and Blood without faith would be in vain and, if done knowingly, is to bring judgement on oneself, not salvation nor the blessing of God.


"Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself." (1 Cor 11:27-29).


If we do not desire communion with Christ, God does not force this upon us. Rather, we must by faith accept God's offer of communion in Christ and in the Holy Spirit, and cooperate with God's grace in order to have our hearts and minds transformed and our faith and love of God increased.

While it would be possible to eat all of the bread that is consecrated during the Mass, some are usually kept in the tabernacle. The Body of Christ under the appearance of bread that is kept or "reserved" after the Mass is commonly referred to as the "Blessed Sacrament." It is used for distribution to the dying (Viaticum), the sick, and those who legitimately cannot be present for the celebration of the Eucharist.


Faith in the enduring presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament also led to devotions to Christ in the Eucharist apart from Mass, as in Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction or when it is simply placed in the tabernacle, before which people pray privately.

Eucharistic adoration is when we spend time worshipping, adoring, and praying to our Lord as He is present in the Eucharist.


During the Mass, we have the opportunity to worship our Lord under the species of bread and wine. After the priest consecrates the bread, transforming it into the Body of Christ, he elevates it for all to see. He does the same thing with the chalice, after consecrating the wine within it.

While the Mass certainly affords a wonderful opportunity to adore our Lord in the Eucharist, the phrase “Eucharistic Adoration” usually refers to what takes place outside of Mass, when the Blessed Sacrament alone is adored. Usually the Sacred Host is placed in a monstrance . Most monstrances look like a sunburst on a golden stand with a glass display (called a “luna” or a “lunette”) that contains the Sacred Host so that it can be seen by the faithful adoring its presence. These periods of exposition are sometimes extended into Holy Hours. In the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before the guards took Him away, Jesus asked the apostles to pray with Him, but they all fell asleep. His response was: “Could you not but spend one hour with me?” (Mt 26:40; cf. Mk 14:37). Jesus poses the same question to us. He awaits us and longs to commune with us. Wherever the Eucharist is, there is a place to be with our Lord and Savior. We can speak to Him there, and listen to what He longs to say to us.


In our parish, the Adoration room where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on a monstrance, is open daily from 8:30 am to 10:00pm (8:30 am to 7:45 pm on weekends) for us to spend some quiet and prayerful time with Jesus. Holy Hour is held every third Tuesday of the month.


(See 24 reasons for spending a holy hour before the holy sacrament)

We have received the Body and Blood of Christ in Communion and have taken time to reflect in a period of silence that follows. We reflect upon the extraordinary gift that we have received in the Blessed Sacrament, the nature of communion with God himself, and also what all of this means for us in our daily lives.


This last point of reflection is important because if we come to the liturgy and take nothing away that would nourish our faith and the way we live our lives, then we have missed an essential part of this mystery.


In an action that mirrors the beginning of Mass and the Introductory Rites, the priest begins the Concluding Rites by standing and calling us to prayer with the words "Let us pray" (Oremus). A concluding prayer is recited, which focuses on thanksgiving for the holy sacrifice of the Mass and a recapitulation of the overall theme of the liturgy as expressed in the Collect.


The priest then gives us a blessing by invoking the Sign of the Cross and finally, we come to the words, "Ite Missa est." rendered literally as, "Go forth, the Mass is ended."


The Latin word "Missa" is the derivative of the English word "Mass", and it carries the sense of mission, and in this sense the Mass/Eucharist never ends but rather continues in our life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that the celebration of the Eucharist is called Holy Mass (Missa),"because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfil God's will in their daily lives." (CCC 1332)


We come to Mass, perhaps distracted by troubles and concerns of everyday life. Then Jesus draws close to us and by the prayers of the Mass, he draws out our response. He gives us words to express our sorrow, our pleas and our praise. Next he opens the Scriptures to us. He then gives himself in the most intimate way. And then comes our dis-missal, our com-mission. These words come from the same Latin root as Mass.


What we receive in the Mass, we must now take into the world. We cannot hold on to our Christian faith unless we give it away, unless we share it with others. The more deeply the Eucharist unites us to Jesus, the more we will radiate his life and his love in the world around us. The closing line of the Mass, therefore, is not an aimless dismissal. It is a dismissal with a mission. It is a sending forth of God's people to bring the mysteries of Christ into the world. We are to serve Christ and to bear witness through our daily Christian living so that through us, all shall come to seek Him and have eternal life in our Lord ...JESUS CHRIST!

The Communion Rite, The Dismissal

 
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