When we as Christians speak of the three persons in God, we profess that God’s very being is communal in ways we can never fully comprehend. —Mary M. McGlone
On this feast of the Holy Trinity I continue Gabe Huck’s explanations on the parts of mass. This week he explains the Gathering Rite.
What happens on Sunday when we have come through the door to this room, this house of the church, and have taken the water that identifies us as persons baptized into Christ, into the Church?
Maybe to answer the question “What do we do?” ask: “What is this gathering called?” It is sometimes called “the congregation.” What do we do? We congregate. It is sometimes called “the assembly.” What do we do? We assemble. The first thing we have to do is congregate, assemble. Both those words mean “to get ourselves together.” Like a lot of preliminaries, it isn’t the most important thing that is going to happen. Except in this sense: If it doesn’t happen, if we don’t get ourselves together, then all the others things can’t happen…
If I board a bus alone, I probably look for a seat alone. If I board a bus with a friend, we probably sit together, but we don’t need to pay attention to anyone else on the bus. We ask nothing more than it take us from one spot to another. But if we come in here and act like we are on a bus – looking for a place to sit alone or just with a friend or family – we’ve misjudged what sort of thing is going on here. This isn’t a bus, it is a boat that is rowed by everyone on board. It only goes when all the people move together. That’s what liturgy is: something done by everyone together. Sure, different members have different roles, but the deed itself – moving the boat – is done by everyone.
That is a long way of saying that when we come through those doors, it’s clear what we have to do. We have to make the church look like the church, act like the church, sound like the church. We have to assemble to make an assembly. There are lots of times in life to come in here and pray alone. But Sunday Mass is not one of those times. Sunday Mass is what we do together…The church has to get itself together…
There should be graciousness in our gathering…Smiling and nodding in welcome even to those I do not know by name, greeting others warmly: These are building up the body of Christ. We have to do the best we can to make this place welcoming to all of us, those of us with disabilities, those with young children, those who are elderly.
After this preparation for Mass we begin the entrance rites – all of us together enter into the liturgy. There are at least three moments in these gathering rites when we have to do our work well. First, we sing. The song at the beginning of mass is for all of us. We sing to signal the transition into communal activity.
Second, we make the sign of the cross. This simple gesture stands at the beginning of the liturgy because it stands at the beginning of the Christian life.
Third, just before the first reading, we pray. When the presider first says, “Let us pray.” we should be quiet together, aware of all these people silent and praying together. Then attend to the words of the prayer that is spoken by the presider and, if you can agree that this is indeed our common prayer, join in saying Amen. (Taken from Celebration)
Thanks to everyone for your support of the effort to provide lunches for children in need this summer.