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The Introductory Rites
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.


Watch the videos below to know about this week's topic.

Episode Trailer

Episode Video


After Watching The Videos

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

  1. What are some ways in which I can prepare myself better for Mass?

  2. Jesus says, "I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture" (John 10:9). When I enter the church, is my Saviour foremost in my mind? How do I acknowledge God when I come into His Presence?

  3. Do I use the introductory rites to quiet down inside and open my heart to receive God?

  4. Where am I most in need of God's forgiveness and mercy? Do I sincerely ask for God's mercy when I pray, "Lord Have Mercy"?

  5. I shall recall the sacred act of my baptism and renew my baptismal promises when I enter the church for Mass.

In More Detail

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

God asks us to make one day holy, to "keep holy the Sabbath" (Exodus 20:8). In planning our schedule for the Lord's Day, we must automatically put God in the highest priority.

So one of the most important things to do in order to prepare for Mass is to plan our schedule around Mass – not Mass around our schedule. Decide ahead which Mass to attend so that all in the family can plan and get ready in time.

Before going to church, we should set aside some quality time in prayer with the readings as this will significantly improve our receptivity to God's Word as it is proclaimed.

We must fast for one hour. The Church asks us to refrain from food and drink, except for water and medicine, for one hour preceding Holy Communion. It is a way of purifying and emptying ourselves for the worthy reception of our Lord in Holy Communion. Fasting also accentuates the importance of the event; it helps us to remember Holy Communion as something very special.

Receiving the Sacrament of Penance, if necessary, is another form of preparation. We must be in a state of grace (i.e. free from any grave sin) before receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.

Finally, it is important to plan to arrive at church a few minutes early to pray. This allows us to collect ourselves and to spend some time in personal prayer before the communal prayer of the Mass begins.

We live in a busy society where we rush from one event to the next. If we do not have sufficient time to quietly prepare ourselves in prayer, we may go through an entire Mass without fully entering in or actively participating in the liturgy. Participation in the Sacred Liturgy requires us to be in the Celebration of the Eucharist in complete surrender and being open to the Spirit, from before the Celebration begins till the Dismissal.

After kneeling down and making the sign of the cross, the first thing is to acknowledge what is going on in our lives. Have a real conversation with God. Tell Him all that are on our minds. Do not try to drive out our thoughts as though God is not interested in them. "Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest" (Mat 28:11). We entrust our sufferings, trials, and worries to Jesus and pray for His consolation and strength. If we are upset with someone, we ask God to help us forgive that person who has hurt us.

We then "stretch out our withered hand" (cf Mat 12:13) i.e. acknowledge our sins, weaknesses and failings and ask God to cleanse and restore us.
Next is to prepare ourselves to receive God during the liturgy. Express our gratitude to God for the many gifts and graces in our lives. Ask God to open our hearts to receive Him through the songs, scriptures, homily, prayers and the Eucharist.
Aside from spontaneous prayers, there are set prayers written by saints that can help us remind ourselves about the importance of the Mass and prepare us to enter into it.

Prayer of St. Ambrose before Mass

Lord Jesus Christ,
We approach your banquet table as saints and sinners, and dare not rely on our own worth,
but only on your goodness and mercy.
Gracious God of majesty and awe,
We seek your protection,
We look for your healing.
We appeal to you, the fountain of all mercy.
Lord Jesus Christ, eternal king,
crucified for us, look upon us with mercy and hear our prayer, for we trust in you.
Merciful Father, purify us in body and soul,
and make us worthy to taste the Holy of Holies.
May your body and blood, which we intend to receive,
unworthy as we are, be for us the remission of our sins,
the washing away of our guilt, the end of our evil thoughts,
and the rebirth of our better instincts.
May it incite us to do the works pleasing to you
and profitable to our health in body and soul,
and may it deliver us from evil. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas before Mass

Almighty and ever-living God,
I approach the sacrament
of Your only-begotten Son
Our Lord Jesus Christ,
I come sick to the doctor of life,
unclean to the fountain of mercy,
blind to the radiance of eternal light,
and poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
Lord, in your great generosity,
heal my sickness,
wash away my defilement,
enlighten my blindness, enrich my poverty,
and clothe my nakedness.

May I receive the bread of angels,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
with humble reverence,
with the purity and faith,
the repentance and love,
and the determined purpose
that will help to bring me to salvation.
May I receive the sacrament
of the Lord's Body and Blood,
and its reality and power.

Kind God,
may I receive the Body
of Your only-begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
born from the womb of the Virgin Mary,
and so be received into His mystical body
and numbered among His members.
Loving Father,
as on my earthly pilgrimage
I now receive Your beloved Son
under the veil of a sacrament,
may I one day see him face to face in glory,
who lives and reigns with You forever. Amen.

Water is life-giving. With water all things are washed and nourished. Water also has a long association with God's saving deeds in the bible. The water of the Red Sea was divided to liberate God's people from slavery. Water flowed from the rock as God's gift to them when they were in the desert. Ritual washings were required for the Jewish people before entering the temple. Jesus was baptized in the waters of the river Jordan.

In the Catholic Tradition, holy water (water blessed by the priest) is used for the purpose of baptisms, blessing of persons, places and objects, or as protection against evil and danger.

Holy water is one of many sacramentals. These could be objects, such as holy water, statues or rosaries, or actions, such as the sign of the cross or places. Sacramentals help us become aware of Christ's presence and prepare us to receive the full benefits of sacraments. While sacraments objectively confer grace, the spiritual value of sacramentals depend on our personal faith and openness to receive grace from God.

In making the Sign of the Cross with holy water, we recall Christ's saving act as well as renew our baptismal promises. Once again, we repent of sin, so that we can offer our prayers and worship to God with pure and contrite hearts, in preparation for the reception of the Holy Eucharist.

All societies have developed physical expressions that appropriately convey a relationship between individuals - a handshake, hug or a kiss on the cheek. If someone enters into the presence of a king or queen, a curtsy or bow would be an appropriate gesture instead.

What then should be the appropriate physical gesture when we come into the presence of God?

"Bending the knee" is identified in the Scripture as an appropriate response to God. In Isaiah 45:23, God directs that "all shall bend the knee to me" and in Phil 2:10, Saint Paul states that "all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus".

Genuflecting means lowering our self onto the right knee until it touches the floor. It is a sign of reverence and an acknowledgement of the position of the creature before his Creator and of the sinner before his Saviour. It should be done in a dignified and unhurried way in order that the heart may bow before God in profound reverence. A silent prayer or the making of the sign of the cross may accompany the action.

The tabernacle contains the Blessed Sacrament - the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. Before we enter a pew, we genuflect toward our King to honour him. This act of adoration should immediately help us to recognize that we are in the Presence of God.

A genuflection is not made to an object - even one that has deep symbolic meaning, such as a cross, altar, or tabernacle. We genuflect to God. If the Sanctuary lamp is not lit, indicating that the tabernacle is empty (like on Good Friday), we should make a profound bow toward the altar instead i.e. bend forward at the waist completely in the direction of the altar.

When we gather in the presence of God for communal prayer, we use some posture and gesture that is expressive of our reverence. Our liturgical position during the opening procession is standing. It is a natural expression of respect, reverence and readiness. In Ex 33: 7-11, the people of Israel "would rise up and worship" each time Moses entered the Tent of Meeting where the Tabernacle was located.

The opening hymn or entrance song creates an atmosphere of celebration. Saint Augustine said, "Singing is for one who loves." Indeed, it is with joy, love and gratitude that we all come to Mass to meet Jesus.

Singing serves to galvanize the various individuals into a community of faith and prayer. We become conscious of ourselves as a worshiping community. When the whole congregation stands up and sings, it is a unifying sign of reverence. It is our way of saying, "Yes, God, we are all together and all of us are ready to pray now."

Saint Paul advocated that believers sing "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God" (Col 3:16). "To sing is to pray twice" is often attributed to Saint Augustine. The Church calls for the full, conscious, and active participation of all in the liturgy. Singing is one of the most important ways to achieve it. When it is time for us to sing, the liturgy of the moment demands that we play our part.

Saint Jerome exhorted his flock, "....if your works are good, your song is sweet to God. If you would serve Christ, don't worry about your voice, but concentrate on the good words you sing."

The Mass is not an informal gathering of a group of people. It is an assembly of faithful before God in a sacred act of worship. This is why the priest uses a formal and ritualised greeting specified in the Missal.

The greeting takes place immediately after the sign of the cross when the priest, while extending his hands, addresses the congregation by saying one of three expressions:

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all." (2 Cor 13:13).

"Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor 1:3)

"The Lord be with you!" (Ruth 2:4)

When a bishop is the main celebrant of a Mass, he will greet the congregation by saying, "Peace be with you" (John 20:26), the words our Risen Lord used when He appeared before the Apostles in the Upper room.

Jesus promises in Matthew 18:20: "For wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." The greeting reminds us of this promise and signifies the promised presence of the Lord to the community. Through the greeting and the response from the congregation, the gathered assembly forms a community of faith that is ready to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Prior to the publication of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, we would respond, "And also with you."

The English translation was changed to "And with your spirit" because it is a more faithful translation of the original Latin phrase "et cum spiritu tuo." Another reason for the change was to retain the spiritual reference often used by Saintt Paul in his letters. For example, in Galatians 6:18, he wrote, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, my brothers. Amen" and in 2 Timothy 4:22, he wrote, "The Lord be with your spirit".

We are constantly acknowledging the role of the Holy Spirit in the Mass. Over the course of the liturgy, the congregation will respond to the priest, "And with your spirit" five times: at the beginning during the Introductory Rite, before the proclamation of the Gospel, before the Preface, before offering the sign of peace and during the Concluding Rite.

This dialogue reminds the congregation that we have the Spirit of God, received at the time of baptism, within us. It also reminds the priest that he has received the Holy Spirit in ordination to priesthood and that it is in this Spirit that the priest acts at the Mass.

When we pray the Confiteor ("I Confess"), we express sorrow and contrition for our sins by our threefold repetition of sinfulness – "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault" – coupled with the action of striking our breasts.

The striking of the breast is a devotional gesture. It is a sign of sorrow for sin, the root of which was thought to be in the heart. This gesture helps us to remember that our internal disposition should match the outward act that we are expressing.

In Luke 18:10-14, Jesus told a parable of two men going up to the temple to pray. The tax collector was praying at the back of the temple, while the Pharisee thanked God that he was righteous and not like the sinful tax collector. The tax collector prayed "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner" and as he did this, he "beat his breast." Both men needed mercy but only one asked for it. The one Jesus praised was the one who recognised his own failings. Here, the church asks us to be like the humble tax collector asking God for pardon so that we may be reconciled with Him and our neighbours.

In praying together the Confiteor, we acknowledge that this is a public confession, that there are only sinners present in the Eucharist – Presider as well as the Congregation. This prayer is directed not only to God but to everyone present. We also call upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, all the angels & saints in heaven, and the people in our midst (our brothers & sisters in Christ), to pray to God for us.

The Confiteor is followed by the threefold plea for God’s mercy in the Kyrie:

Kyrie Eleison
Christe Eleison
Kyrie Eleison

It translates into "Lord, have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy". This threefold repetition has been a way of asking the Triune God for mercy, invoking the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Kyrie is the only part of the Mass that is in Greek, the language of the early church. In Matthew 20:31, two blind men begged the Lord for mercy upon them. With their confidence in His mercy, the Lord healed them of their blindness. Like them, we too must be confident in God’s mercy and his power to heal us.

We acknowledge our sinfulness but we do so in light of the wonder of God's forgiveness. It is God's mercy that enables us to stand in His presence and share in the worship of Christ. While we express contrition, we also rejoice in God's goodness and love. In the Penitential Rite, the emphasis is on the reconciliation that Christ has won for us rather than on our sins.

"Then the priest invites those present to take part in the Penitential Rite, which, after a brief pause for silence, the entire community carries out through a formula of general confession. The rite concludes with the priest's absolution, which, however, lacks the efficacy of the Sacrament of Penance." (General Instruction of the Roman Missal)

The penitential rite effects the forgiveness of venial sins. But for a mortal sin (sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent), we need to go to a priest for confession to receive penance and absolution.

As an alternative to the regular options for the penitential rite, the sprinkling of holy water may take place. It is especially appropriate during the Easter season although it may take place at all Sunday Masses.

The sprinkling rite is meant to bring each member of the assembly into contact with water to reaffirm their identity as the baptized People of God. It is a form of blessing and a reminder of the baptismal washing whereby we die to sin and rise unto new life with Christ.

The Gloria is a song of exaltation and joy, whereas Lent is a penitential season. Along with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to get ready for Easter, the church also fasts from singing the Gloria and saying or singing the word Alleluia, whether with the Psalms, the Gospel acclamation or in hymns.

Advent is a great season of preparation for a greater mystery, the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. By reserving the Gloria for the festive season of Christmas, the liturgy emphasizes Advent’s character as a season of waiting with great expectation.

The Gloria begins with the song of the angels that was heard at the birth of Jesus Christ:

Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to people of goodwill. (Lk 2:14)

By omitting the Gloria during Advent, we long for the night of Christmas when we can sing the angels' song anew.

The Introductory Rites

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