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The Mass and Its Meaning: Part IV- The Liturgy of the Word Continued

After the readings and the Gospel comes the Homily. The Homily is also reserved forhe ordained. Christ passed his mission to the apostles and they in turn taught others about Christ. After being given his mission and word, the apostles passed this onto their successors, priests and deacons. Therefore, the Homily is reserved for the ordained to ensure that the assembly hears what the apostles taught as the Church’s apostolic faith and not merely private thoughts and experiences of an individual. This does not guarantee that you will like the Homily, as each Priest or Deacon has been given different gifts and abilities to connect what they have heard to bring out what Christ was teaching. To help you hear what will be taught, you can pray to the Holy Spirit as you sit down and ask to be open to God’s Word. You can also pray for the homilist to be able to say what God wants him to say at that moment.

Lastly, the task of the Homily is to connect the Liturgy of the Word which is concluded as the Liturgy of the Eucharist is about to begin. The ordained wants the assembly to hear what the Word is saying and how it fosters their understanding of the Lord’s Death and Resurrection, preparing them to receive Christ’s body and blood.

Following the Homily comes the Profession of Faith or Creed. The Creed summarizes the Church’s faith by reducing the Sacred Scriptures into a single page. The Creed that we pray is the Nicene Creed, and was developed by the Council of Nicea. Creeds have their origin in the liturgy of Baptism where we profess “I believe in God the Father, in Jesus Christ his only Son, and in the Holy Spirit.” Each phrase in the Creed has a specific reason and was written to clarify what the Church taught; and was used to correct errors in teaching that had taken place. The longest part of the Creed focuses on Jesus explaining how he is both God and man. The Church wanted to make clear that Jesus was God and became man (The Incarnation) , that he was conceived, born, suffered, died as was buried. Because he was also God he rose from the dead. The Creed concludes with important beliefs in the Church: We are one, holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic (going back to the 12 Apostles). We believe in one Baptism taking away original sin, through the other sacraments concluding with we will rise from the dead like Jesus. The shorter, the Apostles Creed may be used especially during Lent or children’s Masses. It may also be sung but that is not done as often as it used to be.

The Liturgy of the Word concludes with the Prayer of the Faithful or Universal Prayer. Here we offer prayers and needs of the Church and the world. These petitions will often include prayers for the Pope and Church leaders, civil leaders, people who are sick or suffering, those who have died and any other current needs. The intention for the Mass is often mentioned here as well. The assembly responds “Lord hear our prayer” or something similar for each petition.