By Rev Fr William Goh
Set of 10 CDs
The celebration of the Mass is the highest form of public worship because it is the summit of the Faith of the Church. It is the gift of God in person. In the mass, the Church celebrates her very existence, her being and her destiny. In the Eucharist, the Church draws life from Christ. Hence, the Church is never more a Church as when she gathers as a community of faithful to celebrate the Eucharist. Since the mass is the central expression of our faith and worship, it is important that we understand more fully what we are celebrating. Otherwise, there is a danger of the mass becoming boring, inexplicable and even superstitious. Through a better appreciation of the meaning of various parts of the celebration and the liturgical actions, we can participate more actively and benefit from the fruits of the Eucharistic celebration.
Talk 1 – The Eucharist Through the Ages
This talk will trace the origin of the mass from the time it was instituted by Jesus Christ and developed further in the Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Church, right down the centuries to the latest revision, not of the mass per se but of the mass texts.
Talk 2 – The Assembly, Setting and Participation
The Church is first and foremost, a convocation of believers coming together as an assembly for worship. Since the Eucharist builds up the Church and is the centrality in Christian life, it is important to understand that the mass is not an individual affair but an active celebration of the faithful. This demands an appreciation of one’s Indispensable role in the celebration, as well as the symbols used, such as the Altar and the Vestments.
Talk 3 – Entrance, Introductory and Penitential Rites
One must come early before the mass to prepare oneself spiritually for the celebration. The Entrance rite underscores that the Eucharistic celebration is a gathering of the people of God and that Christ in a special way is present in the celebration, particularly in the celebrant, the ministers and the people. After the Trinitarian greeting and the sign of the cross, we prepare ourselves by focusing on the Lord’s goodness and mercy and ask Him for forgiveness for our failings. This is followed by the Gloria where we give praise to God’s wonderful work of salvation. The Collect or Opening Prayer sums up the people’s prayer which often reflects the theme of the celebration.
Talks 4 & 5: Celebrating the Liturgy of the Word Meaningfully
The Liturgy of the Word is one of the two main components of the mass. God comes to feed us in two ways, namely, through His Word and in the Eucharistic species. By listening attentively to the Word, we are nourished in our faith and love for God and our fellowmen. To hear the Word is to obey without reservations, since God has spoken. The responsorial psalm enables us to interiorize and personalize the Word for our lives. This is of course aided by the homily. As a response to God’s Word, we conclude with the Creed, which is our Act of Faith and the Prayer of the Faithful.
Talk 6: Presentation and Preparation of the Gifts
Just as the Entrance and Penitential rites dispose us to listen to the Word of God, so too, the presentation and preparation of the gifts dispose us for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This talk will explain the significance of the Offertory procession, the gifts, the co-mingling of water and wine, incensing of the altar and the washing of hands.
Talk 7: Understanding and Praying the Eucharistic Prayer
At the heart of the mass is the Eucharistic Prayer, a prayer of praise and thanksgiving especially for the great deed of redemption. Besides praise, it also includes petition as well, especially for the unity of the Church and the needs of God’s people. Consequently, to have a greater appreciation of the Eucharistic prayer it is necessary to study its components and structure. Finally, we will consider how we can draw out the implications of this part of the Eucharistic celebration and apply to our daily living.
Talks 8 & 9: Communion and Concluding Rites
The central aspect of the Eucharist is unity. The purpose of the Eucharist is to effect unity among us as Church and with Christ. This unity is brought about by Christ’s redemption on the cross, through forgiveness of sins. Through the devout reception of Holy Communion, we receive the Holy Spirit who unites us all into one Body of Christ. Hence, the Eucharist truly anticipates the life of the Kingdom that is to come at the end of time. It brings us true peace and joy. Empowered by His forgiveness and love, we who have received His grace in turn become Eucharist to others by loving and serving humanity the way Christ serves us. All these aspects are celebrated in the Communion and Concluding Rites. Among many others, these two talks will examine the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer, the Sign of Peace, the Breaking of bread, the Lamb of God, the reception of the Eucharistic species, the blessing and dismissal.
Talk 10: Living the Mass in Our Lives
What we believe and how we pray shape the way we live our lives. Hence, the liturgical axiom, “lex credendi, lex orandi”, that is, the rule of belief is the rule of prayer and vice versa. Our faith determines how we relate to God; and our experience of God will govern how we formulate our doctrines about Him. Since the celebration of the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of the Christian life, necessarily, it is important that we do not only worship rightly by celebrating the mystery of faith in the Eucharist but we must live out the Eucharist in our daily lives. In this talk we will examine the impact of the Eucharist on our lives, the way we appreciate it and celebrate it. We will consider the relationship between Eucharist and spirituality; Eucharist and Church; Eucharist and life; Eucharist and mission.