About the Mass

About the Mass

Our main service, the Mass, can seem a bit confusing to a newcomer but makes sense once it is explained. It starts with the congregation gathering in the area we call the Sanctuary; just as early Christians would gather in someone’s home in the first century. We clear the air by asking God to forgive us any transgressions we may have made, and then we praise Him.

We then listen to passages from the Scriptures just as the Jews did (and still do) in their synagogues, except that we now include passages from the New Testament (the stories about Jesus and his teachings, and the letters written by Jesus’ followers). We recite the Creed (a brief synopsis of what we believe) and then move to the climax of the Mass. This is where we celebrate the fact that Jesus sacrificed His life to pave way for our salvation and instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Here the priest changes bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ which is given out at the part we call Communion. The mass then concludes with some final prayers and a blessing. The Mass we celebrate today is the same format as described in a letter by St. Justin in the 2nd Century and is followed by every Roman Catholic Church worldwide.

Some other things you will notice are the colour of the priest’s garments (which vary according to the season), and the movement of the congregation. Basically, we stand when we pray together, sit for the scriptures (except for the Gospel, where we stand out of respect for the words of Jesus), and kneel for the most solemn parts. Just follow the others and you will be fine. Of course, there is much more to the Mass than that and you might join a Small Group if you wish to learn more.

One last point. Only those who believe that the bread and wine are truly changed into the body and blood of Jesus should receive the eucharist at Communion. If you are not Catholic you may either remain in your pew when others come to receive the eucharist, or you may come up and indicate that you are not Catholic by crossing your arms across your chest, in which case the priest will give you a blessing. We would love for you to join us and see the Mass for yourself.

©2021 St. Francis of Assisi, a parish of the Diocese of Peterborough