February 28th

After the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer, the Mass continues with the Communion Rite.  This rite includes our immediate preparation and reception of Our Lord in Holy Communion.

To prepare ourselves, we together pray for our daily bread in the prayer that Our Lord taught us: the “Our Father.”  Towards the end of the Lord’s Prayer, we pray that God forgive us, as we forgive others.  This conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer leads very naturally into the sign of peace.

When we exchange with one another the sign of peace, we should call to mind Our Lord’s teaching that we ought to be reconciled with others before offering our gift at the altar.  (cf. Matthew 5:23-24)  The significance of this gesture is more than just our wishing peace to those in our immediate proximity at church.  The sign of peace is meant to be a reminder to us that we are called to forgive everyone and not to hold any grudges.  We cannot harbor hatred against others and receive God, Who is love, into our hearts at the same time.

Following the exchange of peace, the Lamb of God is sung.  This ancient invocation calls upon Our Lord to grant us mercy and peace.  The term “Lamb of God” should call our minds back to the Old Testament, where lambs were offered in order to atone for sins.  By saying that Jesus is the “Lamb of God” Who takes away the “sins of the world” we are reminding ourselves that Jesus died to save us and through His death on the Cross, we are able to obtain mercy and true peace from God.

While the congregation is singing the Lamb of God, the priest bows and prays his own prayer of preparation.  The words of this prayer are quite beautiful, so I thought I would reproduce them for you here: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, by the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit your death brought life to the world.  By your holy body and blood free me from all my sins and from every evil.  Keep me faithful to your teaching and never let me be parted from you.”  [This prayer is the first option of preparation prayers for the priest, which are found in the Sacramentary.]

We will conclude our reflections on the Mass next week.

God bless,

Father White

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