Abbot Jeremy Driscoll is a Benedictine monk of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon.  He teaches at Mount Angel Seminary and the Pontifical University of Sant’ Anselmo, Rome.  Following are notes on Father Jeremy Driscoll’s presentation “What Happens at Mass” at Saint Bernard’s on March 18, 2017 in Billings, Montana.  For complete information please refer to “What Happens At Mass” Revised Edition by Jeremy Driscoll, OSB.

Gathering Song & Greeting:  At the beginning of mass I help the priest to tell the story.  I stand and sing.  The priest walks to the altar with his helpers.

The parts discussed are a mass with the Bishop presiding such as a Chrism or Confirmation celebration.

MYSTERY – The Assembly is being lead. The priest is a concrete something yet Christ is leading the prayer.

Entrance Chant is where the Assembly stands to move towards God.

The Assembly rises to stand preparing for Christ to leading the prayer. I am indicating I am ready to receive what is being given.  The song expresses the unity of the faith.  Many voices together make one beautiful sound.

Song” is throughout the bible. Revelation 14:1 and Revelation 14:3 are the references for the entrance chant.

MYSTERYSong. The sound is made only once in this format with the Assembly throughout the Mass and sounding as the voice of the church.  It will not be the same in the future as not all attending will not be present and others will be added.  The dynamics of the Assembly is ever changing but the voice of the church is the same.  The words and melody are present so there is not a cacophony or chaos.  The song is beautiful and enchanting poising those present at church for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Remember angels are singing with the Assembly.

The human capacity to sing is truly wonderful. No matter how much I think and have regards about the animals, animals cannot sing as humans.  Human song is an image of the mystery of the Incarnation. The only animal able to prepare a meal or build something complex are humans. No other animal has the capability to sing as humans are able to do so.

While the song is sung, various ministers process through the church to the sanctuary. The bishop or the priest is the culmination of the procession.  What I cannot see physically is “Christ” himself leading the Assembly in prayer.  The procession acts out and actually causes to happen what it signifies.  Christ is coming and standing in the midst of his people.

Each part of procession has significance.

When flame and incense enter the heavenly choirs of angels enter the sanctuary with the procession. The angels are here to help the Assembly worship.  Angels pray for me and with me.  How wonderful for my guardian angel to be in an area where angels worship continually. Angels continue to protect me because they love me even after the celebration.

The Book of the Gospels is carried by the deacon. God will be speaking to us through the Gospels and placed on the altar.  The word of God is in the same place where the holy gifts of bread and wine will later appear.  I can see the inseparability of the food of the Word and the food of the Lord’s body and blood.

Revelation 8:3-4 The altar is circled by the priest with incense. This creates a sense of mystery and is a sign of reverence of the holy table around which and on which all that is about to happen is concentrated. Remember the song is still being sung. The altar is nothing less than the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Keep in mind Revelation 7:9-12)

The priest starts mass or the story with the Sign of the Cross.   Our one God has one name, “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

The Sign of the Cross

When making the Sign of the Cross, do I utilize the first two fingers and thumb when tracing it over my bodies. The priest utilizes the same symbol of fingers or the Trinity when giving the blessing of the Sign of the Cross. Matthew 28:19-20 adds “And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world”. It is the verbal formula with which a person is baptized.

The one God has only one nameIn the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit“. More accurately I could change “In the name” to “into the name” as I recall my baptism. Each time the Sign of the Cross is made, I am reminding myself of my Baptism and choosing it again in our lives.

What better way to start the celebration. What I are about to experience is a deepening of what was begun at Baptism.  The assembly then says, “Amen.”  “Amen” is a Hebrew word meaning that what has been said is certain and firmly established.  By saying “Amen” I am involved.  By saying “Amen: I put my life on the line.  I agree to it.

At this point in the mass, I know this is the only way into Eucharist; Yes, I accept again my Baptism; Yes, I believe in the holy name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  References to mystery by Saint Paul are:    Ephesians 3:4-6  |  Ephesians 1:9  |  Colossians 2:2-3  |  Colossians 4:3  |  1 Timothy 3:16  |  Colossians 1:27  |  Colossians 1:26  |  Ephesians 6:19  |  Revelation 1:20  |  Ephesians 3:3  |  Ephesians 3:9  |  Romans 11:25

Amen: I agree and I am glad for this glorious truth.   Sign of the Cross interesting article

Greeting the Assembled People

I am greeted by the story teller or priest. I need to listen to the priest tell the story.  Code is “And with your spirit.”  The story teller is reminded to lead the Assembly.

There are three forms the priest uses to greet the assembly.

The Assembly’s response is: And with your spirit.

Each time the response is “And with your spirit” is code.  Code:  something better is going to happen.  This particle code indicates the celebration has started and reminding the story teller “to lead the assembly in prayer.”

“Be the priest for us now,” aware that there is only one priest, Christ himself, and that this one who represents him now must be finely tuned to perform his sacred duties well.

At this point, it begins to celebrate the source and summit of the community’s life. The priest greets the assembly in his sacramental role of representing Christ as the head of his body and as Christ who will lead his body in prayer. The assembly is recognized in that God has called together baptized people. It is the Lord himself as he spreads out his arms wide as he speaks in a stylized gesture of gracious openness. The greeting reminds us that the faith which we stand comes to us from the apostles.

I am led by the priest in prayers.

The Penitential Act is to make my heart clean.

The Penitential Act is preparation to celebrate sacred mysteries. My soiled heart is cleaned.  This does not replace confession.  The penitential act allows clean hearts to be free and give special light to our conscience to choose purity for the love that never passes away.

I am are drawing closer to the Word to be proclaimed. I am asking for God’s forgiveness for the Church and the Assembly.  This is not just a “Me” moment.

With the Assembly, I have come together into His presence, together with angels and saints; and I ask Him to show us His mercy and grant all His salvation.

Gloria:  Then I seek to honor, praise and give Glory to God.

In Advent and Lent the Church abstains from singing this hymn so that it can ring out with fresh vigor on the feast for which these seasons prepare. The assembly remains standing. Then, when it is prescribed, this hymn is either sung or said.

Where some of the phrases are found in the bible:

Luke 2:14 – Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will

Psalm 148:13 – We praise you

Psalm 2:7; John 1:14 – Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son

John 1:29 – … you take away the sins of the world

Collect:  The priest says a prayer so I act as one with the Assembly.  I listen to God’s word.  I agree by saying “Amen.” 

The Collect

“Let us pray.” – followed by silence.

This invitation means to signal a shift of levels, prayers with different kind of attention. There is a short pause to have the Assembly act as one.

Mass is a ritual which has repetition. If I refuse the ritual and its rules and forms, then I am left only as I came. The ritual takes me out of myself and beyond.  God acts through the Mass. I am involved with my responses.

The Mass is about the supreme encounter with love. Because of what happens at Mass, I know what it is that makes me to be: I am loved, therefore I am. It is an encounter with God through Jesus.

Every true relationship needs to be experienced. I am able to love others as I have been loved by God when attending Mass.

Standing & Sitting & Kneeling

The church exists not for herself but for the sake of the world.  There are multiple movements back and forth with active participation with the Assembly.

The first is a movement from God the Father to the word.
The second is a movement from the world to God the Father.

I am assisted in prayer by standing, sitting and kneeling.

The First Movement

  • the Father gives Himself to through the Son in the Holy Spirit.
  • The concept to grasp:  take time to think about that God the Father gives Himself to the world by giving His Son.  This is “Father who so loved the world that he gave His only Son” (John 3:16).
  • But there is more! This direction of movement in the liturgy reveals that the Father gives His Son in and by the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of the Father.
  • The Father gives His Spirit an assignment, namely to effect, illumine, clarify and arrange everything in such a way that the Son be known and that all who believe in him might live their life entirely from the Son’s life.
  • Everything and everybody is the world is destined by grace for the Eucharistic transformation. I am able to say that the Father gives His Son to the world through the Church.
  • The gift from the first movement is that the Church may do something with this gift or offer it back to the Father.

The Second Movement

  • If I do not give to the Father what I have been given, then I am not experiencing God’s love.
  • When the Word assumes our flesh – this is the form in which the Father gives His Son.  He does so in order that He may offer it to the Father as what He is and has always been. This happens through the Holy Spirit.

Behind every priest we need to see the bishop. Bishops and priests represent the one and only priest, Christ himself.

To what extent are you willing to thank someone for saving your life.

Archbishop Karol Woltja (now Saint John Paul II) traveled to Montana from Poland in 1966 to thank Father Joseph Glucek for saving his life during World War II.  Remember Archbishop Karol Woltja was also working on the Divine Mercy message at the same time.

Monsignor Joseph Glucek reminded me in 2001 when Pope John Paul II first visited him.  The comment was made how Father Glucek was two people ahead of Karol Wojtyla when people were being rounded up for the concentration camp.  Monsignor Glucek did not remember Karol Wojtyla but the events described aligned with Father Glucek’s experience.  Who remembers who is behind them while going to Communion.

More information regarding sitting, standing and kneeling in the United States:

Bishop Christopher Coyne – Why Do We Sit, Stand and kneel at various times during the Mass?

Father Dominic Buckley, Parochial Vicar – What’s with all the Up and Down during Mass?

Jennifer & Greg Willits – Standing, Sitting, Kneeling – from That Catholic Show

Liturgy of the Word – Next Page

Notes on the Mass