In the last installment we looked at the closing portion of the Liturgy of the Eucharist , the Communion Rite, and now in this the conclusion of the series we will look at the Concluding Rite and my final thoughts on this series.
The Concluding Rites are very short, and actually only consist of the Post-Communion prayer, the blessing, and the dismissal. (Technically the post communion prayer is part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but I’ve included in this post because most people consider it part of the Concluding Rites)
After the post-communion prayer, the priest may ask you to sit while a lector reads some parish announcements.
Once the announcements have been made- if there are any- then all rise and receive a blessing from the priest.
Priests of God have been giving blessings all the way back to the days of Melchizedek and the Aaronic priests of the Mosaic Covenant, and so we today receive a parting blessing from our priests who offer the sacrifice of the Mass on our behalf.
The Mass has many names, in the catechism (CCC 1328-1332) lists a few different terms that we may call this Liturgical aspect of the life of the Church, but Mass is the most common one in the western church. The dismissal is actually where we get the term “Mass” from. Ite, missa est is how the priest would dismiss the faithful in the Tridentine Mass, with “missa” being Anglicized into “Mass”. This roughly translates as “Go, it (the assembled faithful) is dismissed,” but Pope Benedict XVI wrote how there can be a deeper meaning to these simple words of dismissal,
After the blessing, the deacon or the priest dismisses the people with the words: Ite, missa est. These words help us to grasp the relationship between the Mass just celebrated and the mission of Christians in the world. In antiquity, missa simply meant “dismissal.” However in Christian usage it gradually took on a deeper meaning. The word “dismissal” has come to imply a “mission.” These few words succinctly express the missionary nature of the Church. The People of God might be helped to understand more clearly this essential dimension of the Church’s life, taking the dismissal as a starting- point.
Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 51
We are sent on a missio, a mission, and that is to live out our baptismal promises every hour of every day. We are to live as Catholic Christians at all times, and not just for the 60-90 minutes that we are in Mass on Sunday.
This is a lifetime commitment, and by being dismissed we are just getting started. Sunday is the first day of the week, and what better way to get the week started that’s by being sent on a mission by the Church to win souls for the Kingdom, to break down the strongholds of the enemy. Christ promised us that the “Gates of hell will not prevail” against His Church, but gates are a defensive measure, not an offensive one. We are supposed to take the fight to the enemy, and not sit back and wait for his attack. Let’s leave Mass and take the fight for souls right to the gates of hell, let’s go on our mission and be an evangelical and missionary Church in our cities and countries. Let’s be dismissed from Mass, to live even more authentically Catholic lives that we arrived with.
Our mission is to be saints, and to make saints around us, through our words and deeds.
This has been a labor of love, I love the liturgy of the Church, and I love all my readers, who I hope will have a deeper appreciation of the liturgy after reading these posts and seeing the multivalent meaning of all the actions and words of the Mass. My prayer is that this time you all have spent reading this will be spiritually rewarding, and strengthening for your relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
What a glorious opportunity we have, to be present at the Lord’s Supper, at the Supper of the Lamb, every time we go to Mass. Don’t ever take that for granted, and don’t let it become just a routine.
As Saint Padre Pio said, “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass.”
I’d like to finish this series with a couple of paragraphs from one of the Constitutions from the Second Vatican Council, it stresses the importance of the liturgy in the life of the Church, but even more importantly, it stresses the importance of our full, active, and conscious participation in this sacred liturgy.
Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper.
The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with “the paschal sacraments,” to be “one in holiness”;it prays that “they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith”;the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way.
But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain. Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.
Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10 & 11
(For the rest of the series, please visit this link The Mass)