This week we begin our discussion of the Holy Mass. The source of the information I will use to discuss the Mass comes largely from a document called the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (Latin for: General Instruction of the Roman Missal.) This document is often times called the GIRM but since I don’t particularly like to refer to Church documents as germs I usually refer to it as the Institutio. The Institutio is basically the Church’s rule book for the celebration of the Holy Mass. It tells us how the Holy Mass is to be celebrated and what things we should avoid.
Since, as the song from The Sound of Music states, the beginning is “a very good place to start” I thought we would begin at the very beginning of the Mass, the Entrance Procession.
The Institutio says that “after the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster unity…introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.”
The Holy Mass begins with a procession, which, although a great way to get from point A to point B, has a very important symbolic meaning. It symbolizes the journey that all of us make from Baptism (this is why the baptismal font ought to be in the entrance to the Church) to Eternal life in heaven, which is symbolized by the sanctuary since it is there, in the sanctuary, that we truly enter into heaven whenever we celebrate the Holy Mass.
The procession is made up of the Thurifer carrying the thurible (incense burner), the Crucifer who carries the cross, the candle bearers, the other Altar Servers, any concelebrating priests, the deacon(s) and finally the Presider.
Every time that we see the procession, or if we are so privileged to participate in it, we should be reminded that we, as one family in Christ, are on a journey from Baptism to Heaven. We should also be reminded to pray for those, who during their life, have lost their way and have strayed from the path that leads to eternal life.