RitualThere exists a human need to ritualize and worship. Think about one or more events we celebrate in our daily lives: How do we celebrate? Why do we celebrate? What are the symbols of what is being celebrated? What do they represent?The Mass, Sacraments, and many prayers incorporate ritual to deepen and enrich our worship.
A Faith Enriched by Ritual Ritual is the familiar order of actions and words that makes it possible for many people to function as one to achieve the goal for which they have gathered. It allows people to spend time and energy on the purpose of coming together rather than on each single part of the assembly. It prevents the chaos that would occur if everyone in church “did their own thing.” It provides familiarity with what is going on.Christ’s commands directs and guides the ritualof the Mass“As Christ the Lord was about to celebrate withthe disciples the paschal supper in which heinstituted the sacrifice of his body and blood,he commanded that a large, furnished upperroom be prepared. (Luke 22:12)”
Tradition Tradition is a belief, or practice passed down within a society that is maintained in the present with its origins in the past. What family traditions do you have? How do you incorporate them in your daily life? Why are these traditions important to you? What traditions do you hope to pass on?The Church is guided by Holy Tradition through both oral and written tradition passeddown by the apostles to their successors. It also has many ecclesial traditions derived fromlocal churches over time.“These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the greatTradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modifiedor even abandoned under the guidance of the Churchs Magisterium.” (Catechism of theCatholic Church Part 1, Section 1, Chapter 2, Article 2, Line 83)
A Faith Informed by Tradition Tradition unifies the Church and it’s people throughout all of Christian history. Through tradition, Community (Church), Liturgy & Worship, Sacrament, and Prayer are all related.
Because of Tradition, the Sunday mass has The early believers in Jesus were still basically changed very little since those early committed to their Jewish faith and years when the followers of Jesus gathered traditions. At first they gathered on the together.. Any differences are the result of Sabbath morning (Saturday) for an assembly borrowing from different cultures as the modeled on the Jewish synagogue practice, centuries went by. which consisted of scripture readings and Through history, religious groups have used prayer. cyclic religious traditions and rituals to celebrate On Saturday evening they would gather in their faith and to form the foundation of their one of their homes, a “house-church”, for a religious convictions. meal, (1Cor 11:17-22) probably the full The celebration of Sunday is the most ancient Jewish Sabbath meal. A ritual of blessings of our Christian traditions. It goes back to the and the Eucharistic cup and bread very earliest of times of Christianity. Those who highlighted this meal. In this way Christians believed Jesus was Christ and Lord gathered on kept alive the memory and presence of the first day of the week, Sunday, because on Christ as He had requested.(Lk 22:1-9,1Cor that day Jesus was raised from the dead. 11:23-26) (Lk 24:1) A Brief History of the Tradition of the Mass
The day of worship, like all days at that time, Like all religious traditions, Sunday worship and was reckoned from sunset to sunset. rest is a cyclic tradition, repeating on a regular Therefore Saturday (or Sabbath) night was basis; in this case, weekly. Other religious already the first day of the week. The next traditions are monthly or seasonal. This cyclic or morning continued the first day of the week, repetitive nature of religious traditions reinforces what we now call Sunday. This was an what is important to believers of all faiths. They ordinary weekday on which people went gradually introduce believers to deeper and deeper about their business and daily chores. experiences of faith. In the early second century, this Eucharistic The early Christians were so enthusiastic about ritual was moved to a time before dawn on their faith that they wanted to gather weekly to Sunday, the first day of the week. This change talk about it and to celebrate it. They believed that may have been caused by the persecutions Jesus was among us. initiated by Emperor Trajan, who forbade About the year 96, however, about 65 years after suspicious gatherings in the evening. A time Jesus, there is a hint in scripture that this original before dawn was necessary because Sunday motivation was weakening: “We should not absent was still an ordinary workday. ourselves from the assembly, as some do, but encourage one another; and this all the more because you see the Day draws near.” (Hb 10:25) A Brief History of the Tradition of the Mass
Later, at the beginning of the fourth century in Sunday became a day of rest only when Spain, even in the midst of a final persecution Christianity became legally free under of Christians, the Council of Elvira declared Emperor Constantine in 313. In 321 he that persons were to be Excommunicated for a ordered a weekly holiday on the “venerable short time if they lived in an area where the day of the Sun.” Eucharist was being celebrated and yet neglected to attend for three Sundays in a row. By the thirteenth century it had become common law of the church that all Catholics, seven years of age and older, must attend Mass on Sunday unless excused for serious reason. The Code of Cannon Law (Canon 1247) reads: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.” The word “participate” implies that the attendance be active. A Brief History of the Tradition of the Mass
The four-fold mission of Christ has become the mission of the Church. These four aspects of Christ’s mission are related to the liturgy: Prayer – praise and thanksgiving Proclamation- announcing the kingdom of God Service - in her Liturgy, the Church serves God and others Liturgy means “the work of the people.” Communion - Liturgy both manifests andThe public worship of God – liturgy - is the work creates a community of peopleof the people. The assembly of baptized believersdoes liturgy. Liturgy is public prayer, communalworship. It is not private prayer done by a collection of individuals at the same time and place,nor is it a performance by a few special ministers. Everyone is to participate. Liturgy is the “source and summit” of Christian life.Liturgy is intimately connected with life; it is an icon – a pattern – for living.Composed as it is of symbols, metaphors and rituals it is more real than mostother things that fill our life. Liturgy is not only an intellectual experience, but anemotional, physical, spiritual happening. We are to celebrate our liturgies! A Faith Centered on Liturgy
The mass revolves around two main Liturgy of Eucharist – This, too evolved rituals: the Liturgy of the Word and from Jewish practices, from a special blessing of the the Liturgy of the Eucharist. bread and cup of wine at the Jewish Sabbath meal. The Christian Eucharist also echoes the annualLiturgy of the Word – the ritual of Seder Meal during Passover, the Last Supper thatscripture, prayers and chant was borrowed from Jesus ate with his apostles. As these believersthe Jewish Sabbath synagogue services. Christian remembered Jesus in the breaking of bread andscripture has been the heart of the Liturgy of the sharing the cup, they experienced his continuedWord at Mass. These Scriptures give new life to presence among them.the believer.. Through this Word, proclaimed and The word Eucharist comes from the Greek wordpreached, Jesus is really present. eucharistia, meaning “thanksgiving.” This ritual emphasizes a thanksgiving faithful to the wordsThree readings from scripture are read during of Jesus: “Do this in memory of me”. (LkSunday Mass: 22:19), and remembrance of the sacrificial gift of The first is from the Hebrew scriptures Jesus Christ on the cross. The second is from a letter to the early With the Eucharistic Prayer, there are four churches. options, along with special ones for children’s The third is from one of the gospels. liturgies and for other special occasions. When The cycle of these three readings is repeated the words of Jesus from the Last Supper ring out every three years. again, the bread and wine become the Lord JesusThe first and third readings are usually connected. Christ. In every Mass we sing or call out ourThe second reading does not have a direct acceptance and affirmation of this great mysteryconnection with the first and third. Instead, it is a taking place with the great Amen. Then we sharepart of a continuous reading of letters and is the sacrificial meal of Communion – the manyconnected with the second reading from the becoming the one body of Christ.previous and following Sundays. What does the word “Amen” mean to you?
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