12. The Offertory = the Last Supper. The Lavabo represents both the washing of the feet and the priest being purified to offer the unbloody sacrifice of the altar of the Son to the Father.
13. The Incensing = the Perfuming by Saint Mary Magdalen. This ceremony of incensing the altar replicates the Magdalen's perfuming Our Lord's feet. This also represents Christ's Mercy towards us sinners.
14. The Secret = Christ praying in the Garden of Olives. When the priest turns to the faithful and says "Orate fratres" is Our Lord inviting us to pray with Him at Olivet just as He invited His apostles to do so.
15. The Preface = the Chant of Triumph. Though we have entered the Way of the Cross, we will offer all homage to God and offer ourselves to Him no matter what crosses we are given in life. We know what awaits us if we are true to Our Lord for the Preface gives us a glimpse with the Hymn of Heaven.
16. The Canon = the Passion. The priest and faithful honor God with the profoundest silence. The priest now says the prayers quietly to properly mirror Our Lord's silence. Only seven times do you hear him distinctly and that represents the Seven Last Words from the Cross. They are:
- The First - Orates Fratres
- The Second - The Preface
- The Third - Nobis quoque peccatoribus
- The Fourth - Pater Noster
- The Fifth - Pax Domini
- The Sixth - Agnus Dei
- The Seventh - Domine non sum dignus
17. The Imposition of Hands = the Crucifixion. Before the transubstantiation the priest holds his hands over the bread and wine.
18. The Elevation = Our Lord Raised on the Cross. The ultimate propitiatory sacrifice.
19. The Memento of the Dead = In preparation for Our Lord decending to the dead to receive those souls since Adam into Eternity.
20. The Nobis quoque peccatoribus = the Prayer of the Good Thief. Representing the repentant sinner the priest raises his voice and strikes his breast.
21. The Second Elevation - the Death of Our Savior. Three signs of the cross made with the Host raised above the chalice represent the three hours passed on the cross.
III. Third Part: The Pater Noster to the End of the Holy Mass = Embraces all Christ's glorious life
22. Pater Noster = "Father, not My will but Thine be done...Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 22: 22; 23: 34)
23. The Libera Nos = The Mysteries of the Burial. The priest covers the chalice with the pall which in effect carries the faithful toward the holy sepulchre.
24. The Breaking of the Host = the side of Christ is opened by a lance. The priest divides the Host into three parts, symbolizing the Blessed Trinity and the fact the Church comes forth from the open side of Christ Who cannot be divided - Three Persons in One God. From His side gushed blood and water. With the wine confected into the Body and Blood of Jesus is mixed a little water. The three broken pieces also represent the three days in the tomb.
25. The Agnus Dei = the Resurrection. This is preceded by the glorious words Christ first spoke to the disciples Pax vobiscum - "Peace be with you."
26. The Communion = the Eucharistic Repasts of Jesus Christ, Arisen with His Apostles. We joyously partake in the miraculous Mystery of the Altar after the priest has prayed on our behalf Domine, non sum dignus - "Lord, I am not worthy." We may receive Our Lord Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion if our souls are in Sanctifying Grace. If not, or if we have broken the Communion fast, then we receive Him in spiritual communion.
27. The Chants of the Communion = the Joy of the Apostles in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Communion Prayer said by the priest after purifying the sacred vessels or, during Solemn High Mass the chanting of the ancient Psalms.
28. The Post-Communion = the Forty Days of Christ's Glorious Life after His Resurrection. Christ represents the mystery of mercy. Christ has fully revealed Himself to His disciples, so also He has done so by entering into our hearts through Holy Communion. In this wondrous, mysterious act of union of the Mystical Body of Christ with the Body of Christ we continue the mission He has charged us with, giving of Himself to strengthen our life of grace.
29. The Ite Missa Est = the Ascension. The Benediction of His disciples and the promise He left that "Behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Matthew 28: 20).
30. The Benediction = the Descent of the Holy Ghost. Recall the seven times the Dominus vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo are said. The final time, representing the Fear of the Lord is placed at the Placeat which symbolizes the advent of the Consoler, the Advocate, the Sanctifier as Christ promised. As the priest blesses the faithful with the sign of the cross, we are entreated to go and do as Christ asked in Mark 16: 15-16.
31. The Last Gospel = The Preaching of the Apostles and their successors. "He who hears you hears Me". The Last Gospel is actually the First Gospel of the Beloved Apostle John. We profess our commitment with the Gloria tibi Domine - "Glory be to Thee, O Lord" by making the sign of the cross on our foreheads our lips and our hearts so that we will always carry Christ with us and all He has taught will encompass all of our senses.
32. Et Verbum caro factus est = The Church's everlasting commitment to uphold Christ's teachings. We reverently and respectfully submit ourselves by bowing down and genuflecting at the words "And the Word was made flesh" followed by "and dwelt amongst us."
- We encourage you strongly to distribute this five-part essay on the Holy Mass to one and all. You can find the first four at
For previous installments, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH Archives