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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, April 27, 2007
Last time we talked about the Mass, we explained that liturgy was our public prayer as Christ's Body. Because it has this public and communal dimension, it has a set ritual or formula. The entire Mass is an example of “liturgy”, but it can be split up into the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

What is the structure of the Liturgy of the Word?
At Mass, the Liturgy of the Word comes after the Penitential Rite, the Gloria and the Opening Prayer (see previous Mass Questions and Answers). It consists of readings from the scriptures; a homily in which the minister (a bishop, priest or deacon) explains the readings; the Profession of Faith, which is usually reciting the Creed; and the Prayer of the Faithful (also called the General Intercessions or the Bidding Prayers), in which the people intercede for all mankind.

What is the significance of the readings in the Liturgy of the Word?
God speaks to us through the readings. We learn about our redemption and salvation. The readings are a spiritual food for us. In the Liturgy of the Word it is said we are nourished at the table of God's word. This nourishment is essential for us and essential to the sacraments. For the sacraments are acts of faith and listening to God's word nourishes our faith and helps it to grow. The first reading is from the Old Testament (or the Acts of the Apostles during Eastertide); the Psalm is a reflection on this first reading; the second reading is from the New Testament – usually from the letters of the Apostles.

Why do we stand to greet the Gospel and sing (or say) a verse of welcome?
After the second reading, everyone stands and the special “Alleluia” verse is sung (except during Lent) joyfully to prepare for the reading from the Gospel. Sometimes the Book of Gospels is carried in procession to the lectern. This is because Christ is present in his word and especially present therefore in the Gospels, which contain his sayings. The four Gospels are of pre-eminent value to us “for they are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word, our saviour” (from the Second Vatican Council document Dei Verbum, n. 18). Before the Gospel is read we make the sign of the cross with our right thumb on our forehead, lips and heart saying silently to ourselves,“May the Word of God be on my mind, on my lips and in my heart”.
(This piece adapts text taken from the Sunday Missal)

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:59 pm