Liturgy refers to the prescribed forms of public worship found in religious traditions, particularly in Christianity.  For Catholics, the Liturgy is the height of worship. It is a sacred experience recalling Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.  At the center of the Liturgy. catholic liturgy daylesford abbey norbertine

Liturgy includes rituals, prayers, hymns, readings, and gestures in communal worship. This usually has a set format and helps people connect spiritually, participate together, and express their faith.

In Christian contexts, liturgy can vary depending on the denomination and tradition. For example, liturgical traditions include the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican/Episcopal, and some Protestant denominations.

Traditions have unique religious practices. However, they often share similar elements. These elements include celebrating the Eucharist (Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper), saying prayers, reading scripture, and singing hymns.

Liturgy serves several purposes within religious communities. The church’s worship is holy, Catholic and apostolic. The liturgy follows the teachings of the apostles, with a catholic and apostolic church. Liturgy provides a structured framework for the gathered community.

In liturgy, we worship and glorify the father and the son. We acknowledge that Jesus is the son of God and that he sits at the right hand of the father and that he will judge the living and the dead. We acknowledge too the virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church provides for believers to come together for worship and prayer. The most common celebration of Liturgy in the Catholic tradition is Mass, whether on Sunday or during the week.

Parts of the Catholic Liturgy:  The Gathering

The Catholic Mass has four parts: Gathering, Word, Eucharist, and Conclusion.

The Mass begins with the entrance song. The person leading the ceremony and other ministers process in with reverence walking to the altar. The priest kisses the altar showing respect for the table of sacrifice. The altar is a symbol of Christ at the heart of the assembly and so deserves this special reverence. All make the Sign of the Cross, and the priest celebrating the Mass extends a greeting to the gathered people in words taken from liturgy daylesford abbey norbertine

The Act of Penitence follows the greeting. The faithful acknowledge that they have not always been perfect, recall their sins, place their trust in God’s abiding mercy and seek forgiveness.

This Act of Penitence follows, including a sung or spoken prayer. This part of Liturgy has the Kyrie Eleison, which means “Lord, have mercy,” or saying the Confiteor. This litany recalls God’s merciful actions throughout history.

The choir sings the Gloria, a prayer of praise on Sundays and special feast days.

The Collect or Opening follows. This prayer provides a focus on the liturgical celebration of the day.

Parts of the Liturgy:  The Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Word follows this prayer. During much of the year, the first reading is from the Old Testament, and the second reading is from the New Testament. During the Easter season, the first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.

catholic liturgy daylesford abbey norbertine The Responsorial Psalm comes after the first reading and before the second reading. It allows the congregation to pray, think, and respond to the readings before the Gospel.

The high point of the Liturgy of the Word is the reading of the Gospel. The Gospels discuss the life, teachings, and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, who proceeds from the father.

The Gospels are highly respected and honored. They tell us that the Lord Jesus Christ is the world’s life. The Gospels are a recorded account of His resurrection from the dead and how He ascended into heaven.

The gathered assembly stands to hear the Gospel, introducing it with an acclamation of praise. During most of the year, that acclamation is “Alleluia!” derived from a Hebrew phrase meaning “Praise the Lord!”  A deacon (or, if no deacon is present, a priest) reads the Gospel.

The celebrant/presider then preaches the homily. The preacher talks about Bible and church texts, reminding us that Jesus is the life of the world. He uses these passages to teach us how to live better and be more faithful to Jesus Christ’s message. Jesus Christ’s message is about becoming more holy and calls us to public service too.

Next comes the Profession of Faith. The gathered assembly recites either the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed. The Nicene Creed is a statement of faith that originated in the fourth century. This is a significant document in the history of Christianity. The Church in Rome used the Apostles’ Creed, an ancient creed, during baptism. Both creeds hold significant importance in the Catholic Christian tradition.

The Liturgy of the Word concludes with the Universal Prayer, also called the Prayer of the Faithful. The gathered assembly intercedes with God on behalf of the Church, the world, and themselves, entrusting their needs to the faithful and loving God.

Parts of the Liturgy:  The Eucharist

The Liturgy of the Eucharist follows this prayer and begins with the preparation of the gifts and the altar. Ministers prepare the altar. People bring bread and wine that will become the Body and Blood of Christ.

Besides bread and wine, people can also bring money as gifts to support the Church and help the poor.

The Eucharistic Prayer is the heart of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In this prayer, the Celebrant acts in the person of Christ as head of his body, the Church. He collects bread, wine, and with these, our lives too.

He combines them with Christ’s sacrifice and presents them to the Father. The gathered assembly responds with the Holy Holy, (Sanctus).

The presider asks the Holy Spirit to come down on the gifts. They do this to become the Body and Blood of Christ.

After that comes the Institution Narrative and the anamnesis. In this part, the Church remembers and celebrates significant events in Christ’s life. These events include his suffering, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. The Church follows these practices because Christ and the Apostles commanded them.

The assembly then makes intercessions for the Church and all the members and says Amen to these rites.

During Communion, individuals partake in the consumption of bread and wine, now the Body and Blood of Christ. They come forward to eat and drink of Christ’s Body and Blood. Trough the mystery of transubstantiation, the bread has become Christ’s Body while the wine has become His Blood.

Parts of the Liturgy:  Concluding Rite

The Mass concludes with the Concluding Rite, the Dismissal or Sending Forth. This is not an ending, but an evangelical beginning. We go forth, nourished by the giver of life, to become bread for the world. What steps can we take to become more conscious of being Christ’s body broken for others and his blood poured out for others?

The sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation (Confession), Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick include liturgical rites.

Scripture readings are part of these rites. These rituals and customs help the people who come together to connect with God and have a spiritual change. The rites also help people feel closer to God in their everyday lives.

Liturgy forms believers’ identity and aids their spiritual growth in their faith tradition. Liturgy is a means of encountering the divine in our daily lives. Once we encounter this experience, we challenge ourselves to go forth and share the love of Christ with others. So let us begin!

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