The Mass and Its Roots--Part II

This is the second part explaining the Mass.  May it be a great help to giving God true worship.


The Liturgy of the Eucharist


The word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving.”  In this part of the Mass we celebrate two ancient traditions:  Bread-breaking and a sacrifice offered to God.


The Offertory:

Before the 4th century the gatherings of Christians were small.  There wasn’t a great need to have a formal function of bringing up the bread and wine.  After the 4th century, people would bring many different things for the Offertory which were to be dispersed for any of the people in the community who were in need.  Chickens, fish, breads, money were all part of this giving.


Prayer over the Gifts:

These are prayers which have come to us  from the 5th century.  The priest would offer a prayer for all the gifts which had been brought.  This tradition is now a simple one again in which only bread and wine and the collection is brought up.


Washing of Hands:

This was done from the very earliest.  The high priest of the temple would cleanse himself before offering the gifts to God.  The priest does the same as a symbolic act.  It also served a practical reason:  After touching all those chickens and fish, wouldn’t you want clean hands?


The Eucharistic Prayers:

The Eucharistic prayers consists of several parts:

  1. The Preface: this is usually a prayer of praise and

       thanksgiving.  These prayers date back to the 2nd century.


  1. Holy, Holy or Sanctus: This was used in Sunday liturgies since the 2nd century.


  1. The Prayers themselves: Which contain the words of Consecration.  The earliest prayer dates back to 215 A. D. and was composed by St. Hippolytus.


  1. Memorial Acclamation: Here we proclaim the mystery of our faith, Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.


  1. Doxology: This has been part of the Eucharistic prayers since the 3rd century.  It is a hymn of praise to the Trinity.


  1. Great Amen: This is the people’s response.  They say

       “Amen” which means “Let it be so!”


Communion Rite


The Lord’s Prayer


Kiss of Peace: This was part of the early Church and fell out of disuse with time.  It has been restored in today’s Mass.


The Fraction:

Or breaking of the bread.  We break the bread because Jesus did.


Agnus Dei or Lamb of God:

This was added in the 7th century to accompany the breaking of the bread.



The people receive the Lord’s Body and Blood.  Since the beginning, the reception of communion has been hierarchial.  The priest and minister first, then the people. 


The Concluding Rites:

Just as there needs to be an appropriate opening to the Mass, so there needs to be closure.  This rite is very simple and brief.


The Blessing:

This follows the Hebrew tradition of a father calling down God’s blessing on his children.  This is very much what occurs.  The priest blesses the people in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


The Dismissal:  Brief and simple, “Go, you are dismissed, the Mass is ended.”  This is an indication to the people to go out into the world and live the Christian faith in everything they do.



This is accompanied by a song.  The priests and ministers leave the altar and process out of the church.