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What are the parts of the Mass?

by Lorena Bais
Partes de la Misa

The Mass consists of two parts: The Liturgy of the Word and The Eucharistic Liturgy. They both so intimately united that they constitute a single act of worship.

In the Mass, both the table of the Word of God and of the Body of Christ are prepared, and the faithful are instructed and strengthened by them. Other rites begin and conclude the Celebration (IGMR 28).


The initial rites are intended to constitute the Assembly, to congregate it, to celebrate the listening of the Word and the Eucharist in a proper manner. The rites that precede the Liturgy of the Word, that is, the entrance, the greeting, the penitential act, the Lord have mercy, the Glory, and the collection prayer have the nature of introduction and preparation.

These rites are made up of six elements, which are not perfectly distributed: the song that accompanies the entry procession of the presbyter and the ministers, the greeting to the altar and to the assembly, the penitential preparation through the penitential rite, the singing of the laudatory acclamations of the Kyrie: “Lord, have mercy”, the Glory, and the opening collection prayer.


The liturgy is a privileged place where the Word of God sounds with special effectiveness, because God speaks to his people through it and Christ continues to announce his Gospel (SC 33). The recipient of this Word is the People of God reunited and gathered by the Holy Spirit. In the Liturgy of the Word, it is Christ himself who manifests his presence and speaks to his people gathered in the liturgical assembly:

“When the Sacred Scriptures are read during the mass, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his Word, announces the Gospel. Therefore, the readings of the Word of God that constitute an element of great importance in the Liturgy, must be heard by all with veneration. Although in the readings of the Holy Scriptures the Word of God is addressed to men of all times and is within the reach of their understanding, however, its understanding and effectiveness is favored by a lively explanation, that is, by the homily, which is part of the liturgical action”(IGMR 29).

Christ is already present in the Word and makes us participants of his Mystery of Life and Salvation. The Council already said it clearly in its liturgy document: “It is present in his Word. Because when the Sacred Scripture is read in the Church, it is He who speaks” (SC 7). And the constitution of the Revelation made it even clearer: “The Church has always venerated the Sacred Scripture, as it has done with the Body of Christ. Since, above all in the sacred liturgy, it has never ceased to take and give the bread of life to its faithful, offered by the table of the Word of God and of the Body of Christ” (DV 21).

God already acts in the Word we proclaim. His Spirit, today and here, communicates to us the saving power of that Word. Glorious Christ, present in the midst of his faithful, is given to us as the living response of God to humanity. The proclamation of the Word is not, therefore,
something previous, but it introduces what the Eucharist will offer to be lived, and revives the faith needed to take this step.

“The readings taken from the Sacred Scripture as well as the songs that are inserted constitute the main part of the Liturgy of the Word [God speaks to his people]. The homily, the profession of faith, and the universal prayer or prayer of the faithful develop and conclude it [The people make this Word their own through silence and songs, and stick to it through the profession of faith. Nourished by it, people pray universally for the needs of the whole Church and for the salvation of the whole world] “(GIRM 55).

It follows from this that the outline of the Liturgy of the Word is conceived as a dialogical structure, where God speaks (I: biblical readings, mainly the Gospel, and its application to life: the homily) and his people answer (II: responsorial psalm, alleluia, silence, profession of faith and prayer). The readings that precede the Gospel, the Gospel itself and the homily are elements of a dialogical structure: God speaks to his people through them.


The Word heard is going to be fulfilled now. Jesus, at the Supper and on the Cross sealed the words he had proclaimed. Likewise, for the Church, the memorial of his death and resurrection defines the Word announced before.

The liturgy, to achieve this program, conducts the celebration in the following four parts. Each one of them addresses to one of the four verbs of Jesus’ action at the Supper: Christ took the bread and the cup, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take, eat, drink; this is my Body; This is the cup of my Blood. Do this in commemoration of mine (me) . For this reason, the Church has ordained the entire celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy with these parts, which respond to the words and actions of Christ. Indeed:
1. In the preparation of the gifts, bread, wine and water are brought to the altar, that is, the same elements that Christ took in his hands.
2. In the Eucharistic Prayer, thanks are given to God for the whole work of salvation; the gifts become the Body and Blood of Christ.
3. By the breaking of the bread and by the Communion, the faithful, though many, receive from a single bread the Body of the Lord and from a single cup the Blood of the Lord, in the same way that the Apostles received it from the hands of Christ himself (IGMR 72 b).

Thus we have the three moments of the Eucharistic Liturgy: Preparation of the gifts; Eucharistic Prayer and Rite of Communion.


The Eucharist, like all liturgical actions, has its final rites. Its purpose is to bring the participants in the Eucharistic banquet “down from the Tabor” and send them to their ordinary (regular) tasks. Part of the conclusion rite are:
1. Give brief notices, if necessary.
2. The greeting and blessing by the priest, who in certain days and occasions is enriched and expressed with the prayer “upon (over) the people” or with another more solemn formula.
3. The farewell to the people by the deacon or the priest, so that each one returns to their own tasks praising and blessing God.
4. The kiss of the altar by the priest and the deacon and then the deep inclination to the altar by the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers.

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