PURPOSE OF THE MASS
Church documents describe the Mass as having many purposes, some of which we have described below.
The Mass is a time when Jesus is present with us
‘Christ is always present in the Church, especially in its Liturgical Celebrations.’ (CSL no.7)
During the Mass, Jesus is present in the form of the Word, the bread and wine when it is changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, by the action of the Holy Spirit; through the Priest and through us, the community, which has gathered together.
The Mass is a time when we pray through words, actions and gestures
‘We take part by acclamations, responses, songs, actions and gestures.’ (CSL 30)
When we celebrate the Mass we participate through the words, actions and gestures.
The Mass is a time to listen and respond to God’s Word
‘In the reading, God’s word is laid before the people and the treasures of the Bible opened to them.’ (GIRM 33-34)
During the Liturgy of the Word, we listen to the Word of God in the readings and the Gospel and then respond in prayer to each.
The Mass as a community of believers gathered together
‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’ (Mt 18:20)
The Mass is an opportunity for us to join together as a community of believers and pray and celebrate together.
The Mass is a memorial celebration
The Eucharist is a ‘memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection.’ (CCC 1330)
Jesus instructed his apostles to ‘Do this in memory of me’ at the Last Supper, and so we memorialise Jesus’ Death and Resurrection at every Eucharistic celebration. The words and actions of the Last Supper are repeated during every Mass at the Eucharistic Prayer.
The Mass is a thanksgiving celebration
‘The Eucharist is an action of thanksgiving.’ (CCC 1328)
The word Eucharist means thanksgiving. When we celebrate the Mass we are participating in a thanksgiving celebration. We give thanks for all that had been given to us by God, particularly the gift that is Jesus.
The Mass is a time when we share and celebrate our faith in Jesus
‘We gather at Mass that we may hear and express our faith.’ (Music in Catholic Worship no.1)
In addition to being an opportunity to celebrate and express our faith in Jesus, the Mass is a time when our faith in Jesus is shared and has the opportunity to grow and develop. Through listening to the Word and the Priest’s homily, we are able to draw closer in our faith in Jesus and develop a greater understanding of the life of Jesus.
The Mass is a time to share and to be nourished by God’s gifts
‘Take; this is my body... this is my blood of the covenant.’ (Mk 14:22-25)
The Mass is a shared celebration where our faith is nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, just as it is nourished through listening to the Word.
The Mass challenges us to go out and live as Jesus would
‘We are sent forth to live the Gospel in our daily lives.’ (Directory for Mass with Children no.54)
At the end of Mass we are called to go out into the world and take our beliefs in Jesus and our knowledge of His life out into our own lives and to live a truly Christian life.
Photos above thanks to the Archdiocese of Perth, Catholic Education South Australia and the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
Before every Mass investigate and further discuss one of the themes of the Eucharist. Participate in the Mass with a particular focus on that theme and when you return from the Mass discuss what you saw, heard and felt that made that theme evident.
Work in small groups to plan a class Mass on a special theme.
- Who are some people that you see when you go to Mass?
- When you are at Mass, what helps you to remember that Jesus is with you?
- What do you like doing at Mass that shows God that you are praying?
- Who do you like to talk to about Jesus?
- When you go to Mass, can you see a cross that helps us remember Jesus?
- When you pray, do you remember to thank God for everything He has given you?
- When you say Amen, which means ‘I believe’, do you say it like you mean it?
- What is your favourite food – that nourishes your body?
- What is your favourite part of Mass – that nourishes your heart and soul?
- What can you do to show others God’s love?