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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Introductory Rites (part 1)

Saturday, January 14, 2023, 1st Week in Ordinary Time

by Fr. David M. Knight

View readings for today:

Dear Readers: Since the Church is presently engaged in a Eucharistic Revival, we thought it would be helpful to post excerpts from his booklet called Experiencing the Mass, for the next few weeks. (This is not a sales pitch. However, the booklet is available for order on this website for $5 per copy if you would like have a copy.)

The First Focus of Celebration: Expressing and Experiencing Our Christian Identity

The purpose of the Introductory Rites is to ensure that the faithful who come together as one establish communion and dispose themselves to... celebrate the Eucharist worthily. For in the celebration of Mass, in which the Sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated Christ is really present in the very liturgical assembly gathered in his name, in the person of the minister, in his word, and indeed substantially and continuously under the eucharistic species. [1]

“Our Father who art in heaven”

The first of the five promises of Baptism is a new identity. This identity is also the first of the five mysteries of Baptism: we become Christ, true children of the Father, receivers of the “gift of the Holy Spirit.” This first mystery and promise is presented from the outset in the Introductory Rites of the Mass.[2]

Most celebrations begin with some form of identification. When we announce what we are celebrating, we also declare who we are.

“Happy Fourth of July” tells us we are all people who cherish independence. “Merry Christmas!” says we are people, whether Christians or not, who celebrate the birth of Jesus. “Welcome to the birthday party of....” identifies us as family or friends who appreciate this particular person’s existence.

The Sign of the Cross

We begin the Eucharistic Celebration “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The cross we trace on our bodies and the words we speak tell us both what we are celebrating and who we are.

When we cross ourselves, let it be with a real sign of the cross. Instead of a small cramped gesture that gives no notion of its meaning, let us make a large unhurried sign, from forehead to breast, from shoulder to shoulder, consciously feeling how it includes the whole of us, our thoughts, our attitudes, our body and soul, every part of us at once. How it consecrates and sanctifies us.[3]

Christians are people who, when we worship God, “look up to heaven” as most people do. We even raise our hand toward heaven as we begin the Sign of the Cross. But then we do something different. We put our hand on our forehead, on our head, to say we know him. And we call him “Father.”

We are people who know God and call him “Father.” We begin the Mass by declaring ourselves his children. We are true sons and daughters of God. We are divine. Is this exciting or not?

Next we say “...and of the Son.” We bring our hand down from our forehead and place it on our heart. This is our profession of faith that God the Son came down, as Jesus, in the Incarnation. He came, not just to be Emmanuel, “God-with-us,” but to incorporate us into his own body — make us members of his own body — by Baptism. So now Christ lives in us, in our bodies, and we live “in him” as members of his body. This is the “mystery” of our identity as Christians. Paul said he was sent to preach “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Each one of us says now with Paul, in recognition of the effect of Baptism, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”[4]

We conclude the Sign of the Cross by adding, “...and of the Holy Spirit.” As we do, we move our hand from our heart to our shoulder, and then in a wide arc from one shoulder to the other. It is an arc meant to embrace the world.

We are saying that we who have Christ’s love in our hearts, are impelled, sent, as his body, and in the power of his Spirit, to bring the whole world together into one family. Into the one body of Christ. Into the “peace and unity of his kingdom.”

For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all... so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them... God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.[5].

Let’s go into this more deeply.... come back for part 2 tomorrow...

Initiative: Reflect upon the Sign of The Cross, including what the words and the physical action of making the Sign of the Cross, mean to you. Make the sign of the cross often throughout the day, conscious of the closeness of the Father, Son and Spirit.

[1]General Instruction on the Roman Missal, 2002, nos. 27, 46. [2] The five mysteries, promises and commitment of Baptism are explained in the first year of the series Immersed in Christ, (Abbey Press, 2010). The first Seasonal Guide, for Advent-Christmas, is entitled A New Identity. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, not only 1265, but the whole section on the “Grace of Baptism,” 1262-1274. This is not complete without the section on “The Church — Body of Christ,” nos. 787-801. [3] Romano Guardini, Sacred Signs, tr. Grace Branham, © 1956 by Pio Decimo Press,
St. Louis, Mo. [4]Colossians 1:27; Galatians 2:20. See John 15:1-8. [5] Read 2Corinthians 5:13-20.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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