The four parts of the Mass are:
1) The Introductory Rites (all the stuff that happens at the beginning)
2) The Liturgy of the Word (reading the Bible)
3) The Liturgy of the Eucharist (eating the body and blood of Jesus)
4) The Concluding Rites (all the stuff that wraps it up)
Last time I talked about a couple things that are part of the Introductory Rites, the entrance and the greetings. The Act of Penitence, Kyrie Eleison, The Gloria, and The Collect finish up the Introductory Rites. I can list these efficiently because I'm sitting here with a handy-dandy printout from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal in front of me. On my own I would tell you that during this time, we spend time asking God's forgiveness for our sins. It's too short to recall all the ways I screw up in a given week, but definitely long enough to humble myself before God, acknowledge my sins, and thank and praise him for his mercy. Though some of the words and the way we sing or recite them change from season to season - the prayer I resound with most is the Confiteor -
I confess to Almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned
through my own fault,
in my thoughts
and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask Blessed Mary,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me
to the Lord our God.
It's powerful to pray this in a Church full of people and really consider what I'm praying. When I acknowledge that I'm asking those around me to pray for me, and they're asking the same from me - it evokes a huge sense of responsibility and accountability in my heart - that if I (we) could constantly act upon, would render me (and all of us) MUCH more free of sin. But, anyway...
The G.I.R.M. lists the Kyrie, Gloria, and Collect next, and there you have the Introductory Rites. If you were to come worship with me, I could point out the occurrence of each of these - and the G.I.R.M. tells their significance. All I have left to say is that each part of the Mass is so full of meaning and reason, it knocks my socks off.
In my experience of becoming Catholic, it was important to learn and study the parts of the Mass. Every little thing has significance - even the Church itself is jam-packed with symbols - down to why there are a certain number of steps leading to the altar. And because we believe God reaches out to us in love through all of our senses - the Catholic Church is the place to be with it's art, incense, statues, candles, music, holy water, silence... beauty! Praise be to God!
Next time I'll write about the Liturgy of the Word, or "Yes, Catholics read the Bible!"