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A Journey Through the Mass

Have you been away from the Church for a while? Confused about the new translation of the Roman Missal? Perhaps you are just curious about the Catholic faith. This page is an overview, a "journey through the Mass".

A short commentary in bold italicized text and following each part of the Mass, provides further clarification and understanding.

The Journey Through the Mass is divided into the main parts of the Mass:

  • Introductory Rites
  • Liturgy of the Word
  • Liturgy of the Eucharist

Introductory Rites

Sign of the Cross

(Assembly stands)
(All make the Sign of the Cross)

In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
     and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

This ancient practice and prayer demonstrates with a visible sign that we believe in God and wish to come into the presence of the Holy Trinity.


Priest:   The Lord be with you.
People: And with your Spirit.

By greeting the people with "The Lord be with you", the priest expresses his desire that God's spirit be given to the people of God. In our response, we ask God's help for the priest to use the spiritual gifts given to him in his ordination.

Penitential Act

Form A (Confiteor)

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,

(striking their breast)
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

We prepare for the celebration of the Mass by reflecting on our sins and asking one another and the entire Church to pray for God's forgiveness.

Lord Have Mercy (Kyrie)

Priest:   Lord, have mercy.
People: Lord, have mercy.
Priest:   Christ, have mercy.
People: Christ, have mercy.
Priest:   Lord, have mercy.
People: Lord, have mercy.


Priest:   Kyrie, eleison.
People: Kyrie, eleison.
Priest:   Christe, eleison.
People: Christe, eleison.
Priest:   Kyrie, eleison.
People: Kyrie, eleison.

This prayer is often said in its original Greek.


Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace to men of good will. We praise You. We bless You. We adore you. We glorify You. We give You thanks for Your great glory. O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: you Who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. You Who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. You Who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For you alone are holy. You alone are the Lord. You alone, O Jesus Christ, are most high. Together with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

The Gloria echoes the angelic hymn of praise that was sung on the night Jesus was born (Luke 2:14).

The people praise God for his goodness and worship the three persons of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Liturgy of the Word

(Assembly sits)

First Reading

Responsorial Psalm

Second Reading

Gospel Dialogue

(Assembly stands)

Priest:    The Lord be with you.
People:  And with your spirit.
Priest     A reading fro the holy Gospel according to ________.
People:  Glory to you, O Lord.

Proclamation of the Gospel

In the proclamation of both the Old and New Testament, God invites us to deepen our relationship with Him. The Word of God recalls the mystery of Christ and our salvation. Through our active participation in hearing the Word of God, we receive the grace to become His messengers to the world through the witness of our lives.


(Assembly sits)

An instructive commentary on the sacred Scriptures that help us apply the lessons of the Word of God to our moral and spiritual lives.

Profession of Faith

(Assembly stands)

Recitation of the Nicene Creed or the Apostle's Creed.

Prayer of the Faithful

Here, we are invited to pray for the concerns of the Church and the world, for those in need and for the local community. In petitioning God the Father, we demonstrate our confidence in His mercy and His love revealed in the sacrifice of His Son, whom we have gathered to remember.

Presentation of the Gifts

(Assembly sits)

Prayer over the Offerings

(May be inaudible)

Priest:    Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your                            goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the                    earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread                  of life.
People: Blessed be God forever.
Priest:   Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your                           goodness we have received this wine we offer you: fruit of the                     vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
People: Blessed be God forever.

The special purpose of this prayer is to ask God to receive the bread and wine to sanctify it and make it holy. It is an echo of an ancient Hebrew prayer that acknowledges God as the source of all blessings.

Washing of Hands

The priest washes his hands as a reminder of his baptism and asks to be cleansed of his sin.

Incensing of the Altar

On special feasts, such as Christmas and Easter, the priest may use incense to remind us of the holiness of the altar, the gifts of the people, the crucifix and the people of God. The rising smoke symbolizes our prayers rising to God.

Invitation to Prayer

(Assembly stands)

Priest:    Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be                      acceptable to God, the almighty Father.
People:  May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise                      and the glory of His name, for our good and the good of all His                    holy Church.

The priest and the faithful both offer sacrifice to the Father. We offer our daily prayers, labors, joys and suffering, symbolized by the bread and wine brought forward during the offertory. The priest, by means of the sacrament of Holy Orders, has the authority to preside over us in the person of Christ, and to consecrate the elements of bread and wine so they become the very Body and Blood of Christ.

Liturgy of the Eucharist

Preface Dialogue

Priest:    The Lord be with you.
People:  And with your spirit.
Priest:    Lift up your hearts.
People:  We life them up to the Lord.
Priest:    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
People:  It is right and just.

This begins the central prayer of the Mass, the Eucharistic prayer.

This is also when the priest gives thanks and praise to God the Father and invites us to lift our hearts and do the same.

Preface Acclamation

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Acclamation: This is when we join the angels in their angelic hymn of praise, praising God in the temple (Isaiah 6:3). The triple repetition conveys the superlative in Hebrew. It is also suggestive of the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity. The term "hosts" is a translation from the Hebrew "Sabaoth", meaning "army". The title "Lord God of Hosts" is one of divine majesty. The army is that of the angels, the hosts of heaven.

These words were first sung to Jesus on Palm Sunday as he entered Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week, and can be found in the Gospels (Mark 11:9-10). Spiritually, we accompany Jesus on his journey through Holy Week. It is a triumphant acclamation of Jesus as the promised Messiah.

Eucharistic Prayer

(The assembly kneels as the Eucharistic prayer continues. Those who are unable to kneel, or who are not Catholic, may sit in the pew.)

After the preface dialogue and preface acclamation have been recited, the celebrant chooses among several different Eucharistic prayers. Each has a similar structure and contains the following elements:

Epiclesis (calling upon): We call upon God the Father to send down the Holy Spirit to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

Institution and Consecration: This is when we recall how Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Through the words of consecration, Jesus' action and the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Mystery of Faith

Priest:    We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection                    until you come again.

We proclaim the mystery of faith: In Greek, the word mysterion (mystery) is equivalent  of the English word "sacrament". The Holy Eucharist is the greatest mystery, or sacrament of faith, because in the Eucharist, our Lord Jesus Christ is really present: body, blood, soul and divinity.

Eucharistic Prayer (continued)

Anamne sis (remembrance): We celebrate the memorial of Christ's passion, death and resurrection.

Oblation: This is our prayer in which we offer up Christ , the sacrificial Victim, as well as our very selves in union with him .

Intercessions: This is when we acknowledge that the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the whole Church and pray for the Church, its leaders and all its members, living and dead .

Concluding doxology (praise): This prayer gives glory and honor to God and praises the unity of the Holy Trinity .

The assembly responds, "Amen ," or "so be it," proclaiming agreement with this praise. This is called the Great Amen.

The Lord's Prayer

The assembly prays the Lord's Prayer in the words that Jesus taught.

Sign of Peace

The assembly offers one another a hand shake or other suitable gesture as a sign of peace in witness to the belief that true peace is a gift of Christ's death and resurrection.

Lamb of God

We pray once more for God's mercy and peace. The expression "Lamb of God" points to the spotless innocence of the Redeemer. (John 1:29)

Invitation to Communion

An echo of the angelic invitation to the heavenly wedding feast. (Revelation 19:9)

These words recall the story in Matthew 8:8 when the Roman centurion has faith that if Jesus just says the word, he will heal his servant without having to enter his house. The type of healing that takes place at Mass is greater than the physical healing of the centurion's servant. Through the Eucharist, the soul - the core of our being - is healed.


At a First Communion Mass, the children who will receive the precious body and blood of Jesus usually come forward first, before the rest of the community. In some parishes, the children go with their classmates; in others, they are accompanied by their families.

Concluding Rites & Blessing

The celebrant gives us the grace of God's blessing as we are dismissed to live our faith daily. The word "Mass" comes from the Latin word missa, meaning dismissal . 

The assembly is sent forth to proclaim the Good News.