What is this part of the Mass?
We receive Holy Communion and then we are sent forth. But some of the words will be different in the new translation of the Roman Missal.
What do we say now and what is changing?
If there are any brief announcements they will be made before the final blessing. Then, the priest will again greet us as he has been doing with “The Lord be with you” and we of course respond….”And with your Spirit”. Whenever someone is told these words in Scripture, it is likely the person has been chosen for an important mission for God. The ultimate example is the first and greatest Christian, Mary, chosen to bring Christ into the world, who was greeted by the archangel Gabriel: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” as written in Luke 1:28. When the priest ends Mass in this way, it reminds us that the Lord has chosen all of us to continue the mission of bringing Christ into the world.
The priest or deacon will then invite you to bow your heads and pray either a Prayer over the People or pronounce a Solemn Blessing. You respond with a generous “Amen!” As the priest blesses you, he makes the Sign of the Cross over you. You respond again with gusto “Amen!”
Just before the closing hymn is the dismissal. There will be four options for the deacon or priest to use. One is the simple “Go in peace” that is familiar to us. There is also “Go forth, the Mass is ended.” Hear how the “Go forth” conveys much of that sense of being sent.
This sense is also obvious in the two remaining options, included at the request of Pope Benedict XVI. The first of these is “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” Do you hear it? It cannot be more clear! We are sent out on a mission—to announce the Gospel, to be Christ’s witnesses, to work for the coming kingdom.
The remaining option for the dismissal is just as beautiful: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” Through what God has just done for us, and through what God has done to us in this Eucharist, go, and by our lives—by how we live and act and treat others and make decisions—by all of that, give glory to the Lord!
In each of the options there is the sense of being sent forth to do something. The importance of this final act of the Mass cannot be overlooked. It is not a “dismissal” as we might normally think of that word: “Okay, you may go now.” Nor is it a punishment as when one is “dismissed” or fired from a job or when one is kicked out of a group. No, this dismissal is very different.
In a real sense, the new Roman Missal changes the tone of the concluding rite. There is urgency in the words. It is less “you may go now” and more “you must go now . . . to proclaim what God has done for us here!” Less formally, it might be “Go! Scram! What are you still standing here for? Go and take what God has given us here (the Eucharist), and take it out to your workplaces, to your neighborhoods, to your families!”
Picture the Ascension (uh-SEN-shun) of Christ as recorded in Acts 1:8-10. Christ assures the apostles, “You are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem . . . yes, even to the ends of the earth.” Then, after he is taken up to heaven, the Apostles stand there, almost gawking, until two angels appear and stir them to action: “Why do you stand here, looking up at the skies?” Similarly, the new Roman Missal changes the dismissal at Mass to stir us—to send us out as Christ’s witnesses!
Even though the words of dismissal are new, our response remains the same. We end Mass with words of praise, words we say when we experience thrills or relief or surprise: “Thanks be to God!”
Return reverence to the Mass: After Mass, we should not be in such a hurry to rush out of the Church. We have just received God into our bodies, after all. When the music from the recessional hymn dies down, take a few minutes to savor your most intimate time with Jesus. Spend some on your knees with the Lord, just adoring Him inside you. For the next 15 minutes or so, you carry Christ within you; you are a tabernacle.