The Holy Eucharist
The Eucharist or "Mass" consists of two segments, "The Word of God" which is derived from the order of service that took place on Saturday mornings in the multitude of synagogues throughout ancient Israel, and "The Holy Communion" which is derived from the early fellowship meal in which Jesus instituted Communion.
The two parts were practiced by the early Christians on Saturday and Sunday mornings respectively until some time in the second century when they were joined together into this form.
It was this and only this form of worship, the Holy Eucharist, that Christians practiced for the first 16 centuries of Christian history. Then, at the Protestant Reformation when things sacramental were viewed with great suspicion, non-Eucharistic services composed exclusively of a form of the first segment became normal for many of the new denominations.
But for the majority of Christians throughout the world, the Eucharist has remained intact both in form and substance from the days of the early church; continuing to consist of the word of God which comforts and convicts us, and the mystery and grace of the Holy Communion, the body and blood of Jesus which feeds us.
A Word on Ceremony"Ceremony" is the term by which we take what we say with our lips and in our hearts, and express it further with an action. Remember, we are supposed to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind - with all that we are. We express, therefore, our worship with physical actions as well as mental.
A simple bow is a tip of the head at the neck and we use this simple expression at every mention of the name of "Jesus." A solemn bow is a more serious expression of respect. It is a bend at the waist. A genuflection is a brief kneeling. In this, keeping one's back upright; the right knee is touched to the ground. It is the most solemn ceremony we have and we use it to recognize Jesus Christ as He is present in the church in the form of the sacrament.
The sacrament is reserved inside the tabernacle on the altar and the white "sanctuary light" (candle) tells us of its presence.
Frequently, we cross ourselves (+) touching in sequence the forehead, the chest, the left shoulder, and the right, expressing something of an affirmation of what was said or acceptance of the gift that was given. We are saying something like "I accept this, O Lord, for me."
THE HOLY EUCHARIST
THE WORD OF GOD
The opening acclamation
Priest - Blessed be God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. People - And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.
The Collect of Purity
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Summary of the Law
Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
The Kyrie (pronounced KEER-ree-ay)
Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.
This is called the Kyrie because the Latin translation is: Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.
The Glory in Excelsis
(On occasions, another praise-worthy song may be said or sung in place of the Glory in Excelsis)
Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men.
We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee (solemn bow), we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ (simple bow); O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer (solemn bow). Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.
For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high (+) in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
This is called the Gloria in Excelsis because the Latin translation is: Gloria in excelsis Deo. Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te. Glorificamus te. Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam. Domine Deus, Rex coelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens. Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe. Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris. Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis. Quoniam tu solus sanctus.
The Collect of the Day
Priest - The Lord be with you. People - And with thy spirit. Priest - Let us pray.
The priest says the Collect appointed for this Sunday.
The Eucharist begins with the praise-worthy opening acclamation and response followed by a beautiful prayer which asks first that the thoughts of our hearts be cleaned and that God grant us the inspiration of His Holy Spirit without which no one is able to worship Him.
It is followed by the Summary of the Law, a direct quote from Matthew 22:37-40, which sets the standard of morality to which we must be obedient. Not being able, though, of our own accord, and convicted of our own sin, we immediately ask for God�s mercy: "Lord, have mercy."
Then we begin our praise with the "Glory to God... "or other hymn of praise. Praise and the worship of God is the very reason we come together in church, and this hymn is one of the most ancient hymns in all of Christendom, dating from the fourth century A.D. It says to God what we think of Him.
The Collect of the Day is an opening prayer that summarizes the theme of the day. The word is pronounced "CALL-lect." The priest finds each Sunday�s appointed collect in the Prayer Book. We precede this prayer with the humble acknowledgment that, without Him, we are not able even to turn to Him in prayer.� The Lord be with you ... let us pray."
The collect concludes the "Entrance Rite" of the Eucharist which was addressed to God.
Reader - A Reading from ____________________. People - Thanks be to God.
At the end of the reading...
Reader - The Word of the Lord. People - Thanks be to God.
Priest or Deacon - The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to ____________________.
People - Glory be to Thee, O Lord.
At the end of the Gospel...
Priest or Deacon - The Gospel of the Lord. People - Praise be to Thee, O Christ.
The lessons are the teaching of God and we sit and listen to them. Normally there is an Old Testament lesson, a New Testament, and a Gospel The Psalm is an Old Testament song that was sung between lessons in the synagogue. All stand for the Gospel, rising at the beginning of the "gradual hymn." We sing because each of us is worshiping God, we are not just observers. Our singing is an honor to God. The gospel procession is a symbol of evangelism, because the gospel is taken out into the unsaved world. These words of Jesus have "the power of God for salvation" (Romans 1:16).
We stand for the Gospel and physically turn our bodies in the direction of the reader to demonstrate our respect for and belief in our Lord�s words. At the words, "The Holy Gospel..," a small cross is made with the thumb on the forehead, the lips, and over the heart, corresponding to a prayer, "Place these words in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart." The reader joins in with the action but begins with a cross made over the first word of the lesson, "Take these words and place them..."
The sermon expounds on the Gospel or lesson. We now stand to recite the creed.
The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, (solemn bow or genuflect) and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; (rise) and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life (+) of the world to come. Amen
The Creed is both a bold and unashamed profession of faith in the Trinitarian God, as well as a reaffirmation of the particular summary of belief we made (or was made for us) at our Baptism. Thed baptized person, at his baptism, was "sealed" with anointing oil on the forehead being "marked as Christ�s own forever." At the end of the creed we cross ourselves to affirm that we still embrace this brief but powerful summary of the Christian faith into which we were originally baptized and sealed.
The Creed affirms the Trinity: God is one, but has shown himself to us acting in three different forms or "persons." This self-revelation of God is not easy to understand but the creed spells out in concise although brief terms the relationship between mankind and the persons of the One God.
The Prayers of the People
Let us pray for the whole state of Christ�s Church and the world.
Almighty and everliving God, who in thy holy Word hast taught us to make prayers, and supplications, and to give thanks for all men: Receive these our prayers which we offer unto thy divine Majesty, beseeching thee to inspire continually the Universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord; and grant that all those who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity and godly love.
Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all bishops and other ministers especially Jack and William our Bishops, that they may, both by their life and doctrine, set forth thy true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments.
And to all thy people give thy heavenly grace, and especially to this congregation here present; that, with meek heart and due reverence, they may hear and receive thy holy Word, truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.
We beseech thee also so to rule the hearts of those who bear the authority of government in this and every land especially George or President and Rick or Governor, that they may be led to wise decisions and right actions for the welfare and peace of the world.
Open, O Lord, the eyes of all people to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works, that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, they may honor thee with their substance, and be faithful stewards of thy bounty.
And we most humbly beseech thee, of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succor [______________ and] all those who in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.
And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear [especially__________.], beseeching thee to grant them continual growth in thy love and service; and to grant us grace so to follow the good examples of our Lady St. Mary, St. Matthew and of all thy saints, that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom.
Grant these our prayers, O Father, for Jesus Christ�s sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.
The Confession of Sin
Ye who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways: Draw near with faith, and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.
Priest and people
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men: We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine Majesty provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ�s sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, to the honor and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all those who with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him, have mercy upon you, pardon (+) and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all, goodness, and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We pray for the whole state of Christ�s church and the world. It is the priestly duty of all confirmed Christians to bring before God a multitude of prayers for all of God�s creation, especially the ill, the unsaved and those weak in their faith. This is one of the most important ways lay people in the Church do their work as Christians: we ask God to intervene in the lives of people all around us.
Once we have prayed for others, we kneel humbly, praying for ourselves by confessing sins of both omission and commission done against God and to each other. By saying "we," we are being reminded that the sins of even one individual harm the whole community and the sins of the community harm each of its members. Mankind has sinned together, and so our confession is a corporate confession.
While the confession is somewhat a symbolic gesture because no one admits any particular sins out loud it is still an actual confession if we are sincerely cognizant of and sorry for our personal sins. The most effective way for a person to confess and deal decisively with sin is to do so alone with a priest who can talk with them about particular things.
When, in the absolution, the priest says "pardon and deliver you from all your sins" the people make the sign of the cross, gratefully receiving God�s mercy. Following the absolution, the people stand.
Priest - The peace of the lord be always with you. People - And with thy spirit.
The peace concludes the first part of the Eucharist. Jesus taught us not to present to God an offering if there remains an unresolved sin or an attitude of animosity between any of us, but that we should first go and reconcile with "our brother." The peace, passed by greeting our friend in Christ and wishing the peace upon him, is an expression affirming this peace between us. The first segment of the Mass is conduced, and announcements are generally made. THE HOLY COMMUNION
Holy Communion now begins and it consists of four parts. These are outlined in the New Testament the teaching of the Last Supper. The bread and wine are "taken," "blessed," "broken, "and "given." These are the four "actions" the Bible says Jesus specifically performed over the bread and wine. The offertory sentence introduces the second half of the Eucharist. Following the "taking" is the "blessing." The bread and wine are "blessed" with a lengthy prayer of thanksgiving. In this blessing, Christians throughout history have always understood that God performs a miracle and the bread and wine are, in their essence, turned into the Body and Blood of Christ.
Celebrant - The Lord be with you. People - And with thy spirit. Celebrant - Lift up your hearts. People - We lift them up unto the Lord. Celebrant - Let us give thanks unto our Lord God. People - It is meet and right so to do.
The Priest and people make an enthusiastic bidding on behalf of each other, establishing the right attitude for the ensuing prayer - an attitude of grateful, uplifted hearts.
It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, holy Father, almighty, everlasting God.
The "Proper Preface" is a special addition written for each particular season. It is found in the Prayer Book beginning on page 377, and the priest adds it here. He then continues...
Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying,
Priest and people
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts: Heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
This is called the Sanctus and Benedictus because the Latin translation is:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis.
The "Holy, Holy, Holy... "is the hymn of heaven as found in Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8. In the Eucharistic Prayer we join in the ongoing heavenly worship. The People kneel. The following paragraph of the prayer reviews the history of God�s saving work in Christ.
All glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who made there, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death and sacrifice, until his coming again.
At the following words concerning the bread and the cup of wine, the priest holds or lays a hand upon them indicating his intent that they should be consecrated. Many people bow their heads at these words. They rise to "behold" the sacrament and cross themselves when the priest elevates it. Bells are rung to mark these moments.
For in the night in which he was betrayed, he took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
Likewise, after supper, he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink ye all of this; for this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins. Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me."
These are the words by which Jesus instituted Holy Communion. They are compiled from four places in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and I Corinthians). Notice specific reference to each of the four actions: the elements are taken, blessed (the same as giving thanks), broken, and given. Furthermore, we take these words to be true today: This is my Body... This is my Blood." In a mysterious and wonderful way Jesus is truly present in this Sacrament. We are blessed to receive Him into ourselves and enjoy this special sacrifice and union and be fed by it.
Wherefore, O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son our Savior Jesus Christ, we, thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before thy divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same.
And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ�s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.
And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; most humbly beseeching thee to grant that, by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we, and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion.
And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him.
And although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offenses, through Jesus Christ our Lord;
At the words, "to bless and sanctify." the priest makes the sign of the cross to add expression to his request that God sanctify these gifts. The people cross themselves to express that they receive the blessing when he says, "filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction."
By whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honor and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world without end. AMEN
The Lord's Prayer
And now, as our Savior Christ hath taught us, we are bold to say,
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
The "Lord�s Prayer" concludes the Eucharistic prayer.
Priest - Alleluia. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; People - Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia.
These powerful words from I Corinthians 5:7,8 are said, but in this the third part of the Eucharist, it is the deliberate fraction (breaking) of the bread that is important.
(The Lamb of God) At a said service, the priest and the people recite this responsively.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.
This is called the Agnus Dei because the Latin translation is:
Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
The Prayer of Humble Access
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
The gifts of God for the people of God (+).
The priest shows the elements to the people and invites them to come to the altar. The priest beats his chest three times symbolizing and indeed saying quietly, "I am not worthy." This is referred to as the "mea culpa," "my fault." The bells are rung to indicate that this is happening so that the congregation may join him.
The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven. The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.
It�s with these words the sacrament is given to the people. The people are reminded to receive the gifts with the right frame of mind. Normally, people cross themselves before and after receiving each element.
The Holy Eucharist is closed appropriately with a prayer of thanksgiving recited in unison.
Priest - Let us pray.
Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee for that thou dost feed us, in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of thy favor and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs, through hope, of thy everlasting kingdom. And we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty (+), the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.
Priest - Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. People - Thanks be to God.
With these words, the people are dismissed. It is appropriate to stay kneeling after any closing hymn to offer final prayers of thanksgiving. By tradition, people leave after the final altar candle is extinguished.
PROCESSIONS Traditional processions mark important events and most especially the arrival of important persons. Our processions are modeled after the old triumphant military processions. The order of a liturgical procession is that the most important thing or persons are always first. For this reason, the cross leads the procession. On occasion, incense precedes the cross as our prayers that precede Christ�s coming. Those that follow ascend in rank of increasing importance with the celebrant at the end. This places the most recognized in the least dignified place, a mark of humility.
THE LORD BE WITH YOU One of the strengths of our liturgy is that it reflects our reliance on the grace of God even for prayer. The ritual, "The Lord be with you; And with thy spirit" is a "prayer before the prayer," a prayer that God will enable us to pray. We cannot even pray without His help. The same applies for the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, the words we exchange before we begin to address God.
THE WASHING OF HANDS You may have noticed that the priest, in preparing the altar for communion, washes his fingers as part of the preparation. The prayer priests commonly pray is, "Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure; wash me and I shall be clean indeed," a verse from the penitential Psalm 51. The significance is evident: because of the priest�s sins, he is not worthy to handle the sacrament. The act and the prayer is a humbling reminder of his unworthiness in this place. Both he and the server face the cross while he finishes the prayer and dries his hands.
WHO MAY RECEIVE COMMUNION? Any duly baptized Christian may receive communion in this church if he does indeed believe that Jesus Christ is the living and only Son of God, if he has repented of his sins, and is in love and charity with all persons, and if he recognizes that Christ is present in the sacrament. If there is doubt over any of these matters, he is instructed to visit first with the priest before receiving. On any occasion communion is not going to be received, the worshiper is nevertheless invited to come to the altar and cross his arms over his chest, at which the priest will bless him.