For Catholics around the world, the Mass is the central act of worship. It is a sacred time to come together and remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. One key element of the Mass is the Ordinary, which consists of the unchanging parts of the Mass. Understanding the Ordinary can help Catholics deepen their experience of the Mass and better understand the rich traditions of their faith.
What Is the Ordinary?
The Ordinary of the Mass refers to the parts of the Mass that remain the same in every celebration. These parts include prayers, chants, and responses that are integral to the structure of the Mass. The Ordinary allows for a sense of continuity and unity in the celebration of the Mass, regardless of the day or the liturgical season. The unchanging nature of the Ordinary provides a sense of familiarity and allows for a deeper connection to the sacred ritual.
The Elements of the Ordinary
There are five key elements of the Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Mass:
- Kyrie: The Kyrie is a prayer for mercy that is sung or recited at the beginning of the Mass. It is a plea for God’s compassion and forgiveness, and it is often sung in Greek in many Catholic traditions.
- Gloria: The Gloria is a hymn of praise to the Holy Trinity. It is a joyful and exultant prayer that is typically sung or recited after the Kyrie, except during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent.
- Credo: The Credo is the Nicene Creed, a profession of faith in the beliefs of the Catholic Church. It is a statement of the core tenets of the faith, including the belief in the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection. The Creed is recited or sung after the homily as a way to express the unity of the Church in its beliefs.
- Sanctus: The Sanctus is a hymn of praise to God, derived from the words of the angels in Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8. It is sung or recited before the Eucharistic Prayer, and it is a high point of the Mass when the faithful join with the angels in worshiping God.
- Agnus Dei:The Agnus Dei is a prayer for mercy and peace based on the words of John the Baptist in John 1:29. It is sung or recited before the reception of Holy Communion, and it serves as a preparation for partaking in the Body and Blood of Christ.
The Significance of the Ordinary
The Ordinary of the Mass holds great significance in the Catholic tradition. These unchanging elements of the Mass provide a sense of continuity and unity across time and space. The prayers and hymns of the Ordinary have been handed down through the centuries and are shared by Catholics around the world, creating a sense of connection and communion with the universal Church. The use of Latin in many of these prayers also emphasizes the timeless nature of the Mass and its connection to the tradition of the Church.
Additionally, the Ordinary offers a way for Catholics to engage in active participation in the Mass. By learning and becoming familiar with the prayers and responses of the Ordinary, the faithful can actively join in the worship and adoration of God. This active participation helps to make the Mass a more meaningful and transformative experience for the worshipper.
In conclusion, the Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Mass is a central and unchanging part of the celebration of the Mass. It consists of prayers, chants, and responses that provide a sense of continuity and unity in the worship of the Church. The Ordinary allows Catholics to actively participate in the Mass and connects them to the rich traditions of their faith. By understanding the significance of the Ordinary, Catholics can deepen their experience of the Mass and grow in their faith.