Communion Rite – Part 1

May 29th, 2011  |  Published in New Roman Missal

Dear Friends,

Moving forward from our review of the Eucharistic Prayer, we begin this week to look at the revisions to the Communion Rite in the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal.

The Communion Rite begins with the recitation of The Lord’s Prayer. As was mentioned at Mass a few Sundays back, the text of The Lord’s Prayer remains unchanged. Not only is it a good translation of the Latin “Pater noster,” but the language used in the Our Father – phrases like “who art in heaven” and “hallowed be thy name” – have become a rich part of our prayer. It is also one of those prayers used frequently outside the Mass, known well by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Though this prayer will not be changing, the words of the priest before and after will contain some changes. For example, there are currently four options for the priest’s introduction to the Our Father. The revised translation, in keeping with the Latin, offers only one: At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say . . .”

After the sign of peace – a gesture we should always share with others because it is the peace of Christ, not our own, that we are exchanging – we sing the “Agnus Dei” or “Lamb of God” as the priest breaks the host, the Body of Christ. The text for the “Agnus Dei” remains the same, though it is good for us to remember that its origins comes from the words of John the Baptist at the Jordan River when he announces the arrival of Christ. “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29), he cries out.

That same passage is also the source for the words of the priest that follow as he holds up the Body and Blood of Christ for all to see. These are the words with the revisions in bold:

Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.

The revised translation contains the word, “behold,” which also calls to mind the words of Pontius Pilate to the crowd when presenting the scourged Jesus to them: “Behold, the man” (Jn. 19:5). The Eucharist presents us with the same sacrificial Victim, and our participation in and reception of is a foretaste of the heavenly wedding banquet of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9).

Fr. John