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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, April 21, 2008
What is the Communion Rite? After the priest has finished the Eucharistic prayer, and the people have responded "Amen" to the final doxology "Through him, with him, in him..." the Communion Rite begins. This comprises all the ceremonies leading up to the priest and people receiving Holy Communion: the Our Father, the Sign of Peace, the Angus Dei ("Lamb of God"), ‘the commingling’, the Ecce Agnus Dei ("This is the Lamb of God") and Holy Communion itself.
Why is the Our Father in this place? Since the earliest times the Our Father has had a pre-eminent place in Christianity, because Christ himself taught this prayer to his disciples. The Our Father received its current position in the Mass, immediately after the Eucharistic Prayer, from St. Gregory the Great, in the late 6th century. Praying it together expresses the Communion that the sacrifice of Christ, in which we are participating, is establishing.
What is the Rite of Peace, which follows? The Church prays, efficaciously, for a growth in peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family.
Why a “Sign” of Peace? Because Christ, through His Self-gift, which we are intimately connected to through the Mass, has won the gifts of healing and peace for us from God the Father. The faithful express this, and its associated mutual charity, to each other.
What does the priest do whilst the “Lamb of God” is said or sung? He breaks the Sacred Host he has just consecrated (called the fractioning) and drops a small particle into the chalice (the commingling). This is a sign that in sharing in the one bread of life which is Christ we who are many are made one body. Describing Christ as the Lamb echoes the words of John the Baptist and the Book of Revelation.
Where do the words “Lord I am not worthy …” come from? The priest then holds up the Body of Christ saying "Behold the Lamb of God..." to which all respond "Lord, I am not worthy...". This acknowledgement of God's extraordinary grace to us and our own unworthiness is based on the words of the humble centurion (Matt 8:8).

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:55 am