All posts tagged: Mass

The Mass for Millennials: The Responsorial Psalm

Wedged between the First Reading and Second Reading at Sunday Mass (or between the First Reading and Gospel at daily Mass) is a small reading known as the Responsorial Psalm. If you attend Mass today, for example, you will hear: The Lord hears the cry of the poor I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. Taste and see how good the Lord is; Blessed the man who takes refuge in him. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. The LORD confronts the evildoers, To destroy remembrance of them from the earth. When the just cry out, the LORD hears them, And from all their distress he rescues them.  The Lord hears the cry of the poor. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; And those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man, But out of them all the LORD delivers him. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Few would argue the beauty, power, and import …

The Mass for Millennials: The Liturgy of the Word

Remember. Sometimes, it takes the opening movements of the mass for my mind and heart catch up with my body. As I sing the opening song, sign myself with the Cross of Christ, and join the presider and community in prayer, I take a few deep breaths as I allow the rhythm of the liturgy to wash over me. Sitting down in the pew for the Liturgy of the Word, I enter into the practice of listening – to open up my ears, my heart, my soul – to receive the Word of God. Sometimes it takes more work to quiet the disjointed thoughts running through my mind and allow myself to be fully present to the presence of Christ in the Scriptures being proclaimed. Yet cultivating this practice of listening is essential for as we participate in the Liturgy of the Word, we encounter the story of God’s mercy and love proclaimed for us both in this moment and throughout all of salvation history. Life today can easily become fragmented and isolated. We sit …

The Mass for Millennials: Glory to God

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Lk 2: 13–14) In the celebration of the liturgy, the Glory to God occupies a unique place. On the one hand, it is a response: we have just participated in the Penitential Act by recalling and confessing our sinfulness as individuals and as a worshiping community, and we have just heard the priest pronounce the concluding blessing “in which the forgiveness of sins is given.” The only response that makes any sense in the face of such a gift is to cry out “Glory to God in the highest.” On the other hand, the Glory to God is also an anticipation: we are poised on the verge of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, in which we proclaim in Scripture and enact in ritual the mysteries of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ in such a …

The Mass for Millennials: Penitential Act

Silence is not a common feature in my life. As a musician I am rarely without a song in my head, and this song can find its way out of my mind even with the slightest prompting—if a word, phrase, or chord progression resembles something in a song I love, I begin a full rendition. I’ve been known to accidentally hum in class absentmindedly, much to the dismay of my teachers. Heck, I even talk in my sleep. So silence is not something I deal with often, and thus it is not something to which I am accustomed. If conversation dulls with a friend and silence threatens to rear its abrasive head, I am comfortable dropping a joke or lightening the mood with an anecdote. When “moments of silence” are called during prayer services, I often fidget my way through them or lose myself in thought about some completely disconnected topic. But these instances of silence are significant in our culture, which is clear from their frequent use in somber services. Silence does more than …

The Mass for Millennials: Sign of the Cross

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.” We begin and conclude Mass with this simple and profound prayer. But have we really thought about what it means to make the “sign of the cross”? Let’s start with the obvious. The “sign of the cross” is made by saying the Trinitarian invocation while touching one’s right hand to the forehead first (Father), then to the lower chest or stomach (Son), then to the left shoulder and the right shoulder (Holy Spirit), and closing with both our hands together for assent (Amen). Are these physical actions just arbitrarily chosen, or do they signify something? Why do we touch the forehead when we mean God the Father? Why do we touch our chest when mean God the Son? And why do we touch our shoulders when we mean the God the Holy Spirit? The Church fathers actually interpreted each of these actions to mean something. For them, the forehead symbolizes heaven, the stomach the earth, and the shoulders as …

The Mass for Millennials: Entrance Song

The people have already come into the church (well, most of them have arrived). Individual practices are everywhere. Some genuflect before taking their pew. Some bow solemnly before the altar, then sit. Others wave to friends and family and start to make small talk while mindlessly half-genuflecting and then sitting to make a cursory prayer. In just a few moments, however, these people will be receiving one of the greatest gifts given to humanity. The Eucharist. These people will remain in their chosen pew until the time comes for them to process up to the altar of God to receive a tiny piece of what was once bread and a little sip of what was once wine that will transform their hearts and minds. Before the Mass even begins, before we can truly approach the presence of God, we must acknowledge how divided we are, how fallen we are, how prideful we are. And so we sing. When people sing together, “miracles” happen. People who know they cannot hold a tune sing out with glee. …

The Mass for Millennials

At the heart of Catholic life is the celebration of the Mass. This does not mean that Catholics’ only purpose in the world is to attend Mass regularly. Catholics serve the poor. They join together with one another in informal prayer. They hang out at bars and talk about theology. Yet, the number of young adults (or for short Millennials) regularly attending Mass continues to drop. In 2007, 34% of Catholics between the 18-29 attended Mass once per week. Such numbers seem to bear out on Notre Dame’s own campus, where there has been a decline in attendance at Mass over the last fifteen years. Dorms that used to have seventy people on a Sunday night, now have thirty. The decline in “institutional” religious practice is something that “institutional” religions will have to do something about. The Center for Liturgy will be launching a new series entitled “The Mass for Millennials” as a resource for those young adults, who may want to consider more frequent Mass attendance as part of their lives. We’ve asked undergraduates …