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25 Questions About the Mass

A look at 25 Questions about the Mass.

Welcome to this overview of 25 Questions about the Mass. I’ve included a couple of the questions to give you an idea about the book.

Novalis will be publishing the book in Spring, 2010. It’s part of a series called 25 Questions.

From the Introduction …

At every moment of every day, a Mass is taking place somewhere in the world. Millions of people are reaching out to God with prayers, songs and actions. Catholics have been celebrating the Mass for 2000 years. Why? As Roman Catholics, we believe that God is powerfully present in the Mass. The Mass is our central act of worship. Here we can connect with God in a very deep way.

This book invites you to learn more about the Mass. If you understand the Mass better, it could nourish your faith and make it stronger. We will explore this subject through 25 questions that young people often ask about the Mass. Read through the questions and answers in order, or start with the questions that you find yourself asking. Talk about them with your family and your friends.

Table of Contents


Going to Mass
1. Why do we go to Mass?
2. Why do we celebrate Mass in church on Sunday?
3. How do we prepare for Mass?
4. Why do we stand, sit and kneel at times in the Mass?
5. Why do priests sometimes use symbols such as water, oil and incense?
6. Why does the priest wear robes?
7. What are the main parts of the Mass?

Introductory Rites
8. Why do we sing at Mass?
9. Why do we start the Mass by telling God we are sorry?

Liturgy of the Word
10. Why do we listen to readings that were written so long ago?
11. What is the Creed?
12. Why do we pray together for people we don’t even know?

Liturgy of the Eucharist
13. Why do we collect money at Mass? Where does the money go?
14. What is carried up during the Offertory Procession?
15. What happens in the Eucharistic Prayer?
16. Why do we say the Lord’s Prayer together?
17. Why do we shake hands with people at Mass?
18. What happens during communion?

Concluding Rite
19. Why does the priest bless us at the end of Mass?

Challenging Questions
20. What if I find Mass boring? What can I do?
21. What does Mass have to do with my daily life?
22. What can I say to my friends who make fun of me for going to Mass?
23. I’m a good person… do I still need to go to Mass?
24. What if I disagree with something the Church says? Should I still go to Mass?
25. If I have questions or doubts about my faith, who can I talk to?

The Order of the Mass
Words to Know

Sample Questions …

1. Why do we go to Mass?

There are lots of answers to this question. All of them can give us part of the picture. Let’s see if we can fit some of the pieces together.

The Mass is sometimes called “the great prayer of the Church.” A prayer is an action that puts us in touch with God. We can talk to God, listen to God or simply feel God’s presence with us. The Mass is a time where many prayers are woven together to create a beautiful tapestry of worship. In the Mass, we draw near to God in a number of ways:
• in the prayers and responses we say aloud together
• in the songs we sing
• in the readings we listen to from God’s word, the Bible
• in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
• in the prayers to the Holy Spirit to make holy the bread, the wine and the people of God
• in seeing the goodness of God in each other.
Some people say that Mass gives them a sense of peace and beauty. Mass is a place where heaven feels very near to us. Sometimes at Mass we feel close to people we love who have died. Once a week we can go to a place where we know for sure that we belong to God and we belong to each other. We find God in our hearts, but we also find God in each other and most powerfully in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Some people remind us that it is our duty as Catholics to go to Mass. It is a duty, but in a good way. At the Last Supper, Jesus asked us to remember him by eating the bread of life. The Church expects us to do this at least once a week and on special days such as Christmas and New Year’s Day. Catholics have been remembering Jesus in this way for 2,000 years. As one person said, “Who am I to stop 2,000 years of history and tradition?”

• For Roman Catholics, a sacrament is one of the seven rituals that bring us into God’s presence in a deep and special way. The other sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Holy Orders, Marriage, and Anointing of the Sick.
• The Mass is also called the Eucharist. We say Eucharist when we talk about the sacrament. The word Eucharist comes from the Greek word eucharistia, which means “thanksgiving.” At Mass, we give thanks to God for our many blessings.
• The word Mass probably comes from the words said at the end of the Mass. In Latin, this phrase is Ite missa est. The words literally mean “Go, it is the dismissal.” In other words, “Continue God’s mission for you in your daily life.”

21. What does Mass have to do with my daily life?
Sometimes Mass doesn’t seem to have anything to do with your “real” life. What do singing hymns, kneeling and being blessed have to do with what happens when you hang out with friends, play sports, spend time with your family or go to school?

The answer is, Lots! Many wise people have thought about this question. Here is what they said. The Mass gives us:
• Wisdom for daily life. The scriptures and the homily connect us with deep wisdom about how to live with dignity, wisdom and kindness. The value of human life is raised up in a world that often tries to tears it apart.
• Spiritual fuel for our journey. We need food, clothing, shelter and companionship to live. But we also need meaning and purpose. Going to Mass regularly reminds us of our real purpose in life: loving God, our neighbour and ourselves.
• Companionship. Mass is a time to gather with others. We know that we are not alone on our journey. Other people can help us.
• A sense of who we are. Jesus is the centre of our life. To stay true to ourselves, we need to stay connected to him.
• A place to celebrate and a place to mourn. In silent prayer and out loud, we thank God at Mass for our gifts and blessings. Getting into the habit of giving thanks helps us not to become selfish or spoiled. The Mass also gives us a place to mourn – to admit that we are hurt, angry or upset. In prayer, we get closer to God, who knows our sorrows.
The Mass connects to our life in many ways. The homily links scripture and everyday life. We pray for the world and for people in need during the Prayer of the Faithful. We collect money for the church to help others. We are blessed at the end of the Mass so we can be Christ’s hands and feet for the world today.

Les Miller is the former Religious Education Coordinator of the York Catholic District School Board and the recipient of the CARFLEO 2009 Archbishop Pocock Award for Excellence in Religious Education. He teaches at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and is a well-respected presenter and workshop facilitator.

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