Communion Rite – Part 3

June 12th, 2011  |  Published in New Roman Missal

Dear Friends,

As noted last week the Communion Rite concludes with the Prayer after Communion, a prayer that can be sung or recited by the priest and which is a part of the Proper of the Mass, meaning, like the Opening Prayer and the Prayer over the Gifts, it changes from day to day.

Following the Prayer after Communion, we come to the Concluding Rites of the Mass. These rites begin with the greeting we’ve heard throughout the Mass, “The Lord be with you,” to which the congregation responds, “And with your Spirit.

Immediately after this greeting comes the final blessing: “May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” with the response remaining as it has always been, “Amen.

After the blessing comes the dismissal, and this is where we find the last of the revisions to the Roman Missal. Currently the Sacramentary contains three dismissals for the Mass. The revised Roman Missal will have four:

– “Go forth, the Mass is ended.
– “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.
– “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.
– “Go in peace.

The first choice of the four corresponds with the Latin: “Ite, missa est.” In fact this is where the word “Mass” comes from, “missa est,” which in its most basic sense means “it is sent” or “it is the dismissal.” The dismissal is more than an announcement that the Mass has concluded, and it’s time to leave. The purpose of the dismissal is to emphasize our Christian call to mission. Pope Benedict XVI wrote about this in his exhortation on the Eucharist “Sacramentum Caritatis.” Our participation in the Mass, the Eucharist, is meant to translate into a life in imitation of Christ’s life. It is to bring forth the “missionary nature of the Church.” He wrote that it would be important to “provide new texts” for the dismissal “in order to make this connection clear.” Therefore, the Pope himself chose the other three dismissals I have listed above, and they were added to the Latin text of the Missal.

The response of the congregation to the dismissal remains unchanged: “Thanks be to God.” What better response is there than to give thanks to God? It is God who has provided us with the gift of the Mass. It is the means by which He draws us and all people into closer communion with Him.

Fr. John