This third Sunday of Easter we hear another Resurrection story, this time from Luke’s account of the Road to Emmaus. This is such a rich reading that much can be drawn from it, like an inexhaustible font. For my bulletin message this week, I just wanted to draw from our Catechism of the Catholic Church (which many are going through right now with Fr. Mike in the Catechism in a Year podcast) on the broad structure of the Mass, the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist. The direct connection is made of this topic to our gospel passage, the final chapter of Luke, this Sunday.
I am, in our Lord, yours.
Fr. Brian Trueman
IV. THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE EUCHARIST
The Mass of all ages
1345 As early as the second century we have the witness of St. Justin Martyr for the basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebration. They have stayed the same until our own day for all the great liturgical families. St. Justin wrote to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) around the year 155, explaining what Christians did:
On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.
The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.
When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.
Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.
When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.
Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.
He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.
When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.'
When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent. 1.
1346 The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays two great parts that form a fundamental unity:
- the gathering, the liturgy of the Word, with readings, homily and general intercessions;
- the liturgy of the Eucharist, with the presentation of the bread and wine, the consecratory thanksgiving, and communion.
1347 Is this not the same movement as the Paschal meal of the risen Jesus with his disciples? Walking with them he explained the Scriptures to them; sitting with them at table "he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them." 4.
1. St. Justin, Apol. 1, 65-67:PG 6,428-429; the text before the asterisk (*) is from chap. 67.
2. Sacrosanctum Concilium 56.
3. Cf. Dei Verbum 21.
4. Cf. Luke 24:13-35.