What is this part of the Mass?
God calls all people of every kind. There are no limitations with regards to age, finances, education, race, language, or anything else for that matter. In our own parish we will find people that speak different languages. You may see your best friends and you may see people you find it difficult to like. No matter what variety of people you see, we are all gathered together for one reason.
When we gather for Mass, we are a liturgical assembly of faithful people gathered to give thanks and praise to God. When the assembly gathers, God is present as well: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Introductory Rites gather us as an assembly and help us to focus on why we are here. The Introductory Rites of the Mass we will look at today include the Entrance Procession and Chant, the Sign of the Cross, and the Greeting and Response.
What do we say now and what is changing?
The Mass begins when we stand and the procession begins. Standing is an act of honor. We believe that Christ is present as our community begins its prayer, so we stand as a sign of respect. Nothing will be changing for the Entrance Procession except that the hymn can be replaced by a chant or antiphon which is usually a scripture verse.
After the priest, deacon, and other minister enter the sanctuary, they bow to reverence the altar because the altar is a symbol of Christ Himself. It is where the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist is made present. The priest says the words for the Sign of the Cross and we respond with a resounding “Amen!” We also sign ourselves with our right hand to signify that we belong to Christ. Nothing will be changing in the Sign of the Cross.
Following the Sign of the Cross, the priest welcomes the assembly with a greeting. This is no ordinary, “Hi! How ya doin?” greeting, but instead is a ritual greeting and response. This is not so much a way to say “hello” but more of a way to enter into the liturgical rite by extending a solemn wish to someone undertaking a profound task. In fact, this ritual exchange takes place at several other critical moments in the Mass:
• as we are about to hear the Gospel proclaimed,
• as we enter into the Eucharistic Prayer,
• as we are about to be dismissed.
The priest’s greeting represents his prayer that the Lord be with us as we are about to undertake these profound tasks. In the new Roman Missal translation, there are three options for the priests to use as a greeting:
Option 1: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” This greeting is a direct quote from St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:13 where he is giving a blessing to the church in Corinth, wishing them grace and love and communion in the Holy Spirit. With this greeting the Church prays that our community receives these same gifts.
Option 2: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a greeting St. Paul used in many of his letters to his followers such as in Romans 1:7. In this greeting Paul recognized the unity of the Christian church by combining into one greeting the Greek greeting of grace (charis) and the Hebrew greeting of peace (shalom). This greeting reminds us that we are called to be one body in Christ.
Option 3: “The Lord be with you.” This is a common greeting throughout the Bible. Our ancestors in faith used this in Ruth 2:4 and 2 Chronicles 15:2. When the archangel Gabriel greeted Mary, he said “The Lord is with you” in Luke 1:28. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus reminded his disciples He would always be with them. This greeting connects us to all of God’s faithful people in both the Old and New Testament.
The response to all three options for a greeting is the same as you will see on page 1 of your pew cards. However instead of saying “and also with you” we will now respond by saying “and with your spirit.” Let’s say that together please: “and with your spirit.”
Our response, “and with your spirit,” is much more than a “back at ya.” It is our prayer that the Lord be with the priest in his unique role as the ordained celebrant of the liturgy and as the head of the gathered body, in other words, the liturgical assembly. Also, the words, “and with your spirit” more closely correspond to the Latin and are more consistent with the response as it appears in other languages. Finally, “and with your spirit” alludes back to biblical passages in four of St. Paul’s letters: Philippians 4:23, 2 Timothy 4:22, Galatians 6:18, and Philemon 25. This new response to the priest’s greeting expresses a desire that the Lord be present to the spirit of the entire community of believers.
Reverence: Since we are making changes in the prayers, how about we also work to put more reverence into the Mass as well? In the Entrance Processional, we should show more reverence by bowing to the crucifix as it passes by. This is a sign that we recognize that Christ died on the cross for us and that as we assemble for Mass, He has joined us in our worship of the Father.