As I wrote last week, when the Mass is ended, , we are blessed and sent on mission to take what we have received in Mass out into the world. There is a term, mostly seen in Orthodox Church literature, which calls this going forth to share the love celebrated in the Mass as the Aliturgy after the Liturgy.@
The word Aliturgy@ is usually a term that means the public worship of the Church. It is a word used from New Testament times and it designated Aa work done on behalf of the people (the public)@. In English the word Aservice@ is analogous to the original Greek meaning of Aliturgy.@ Even today, Church worship is sometimes called AThe Service.@
Thus, the Aliturgy after the Liturgy@ is the Aservice after the Church Service@ or worship.
In starting this series on the Mass more than a year ago, I did not expect to write 51 weeks of commentary and explanation on the Mass! Perhaps I went into too much detail, but I wanted to open up the estimable treasures found in even the most simple parts of the Mass.
All has meaning and the Mass forms us into the life of Christ because the entire life of Christ is contained in the Mass. As the Catechism (#1327) states: AIn brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: >Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.= [St.Iranaeus]@
I began this series noting that there are four basic Amovements@ of the Mass: (1) The Gathering, (2) The Liturgy of the Word, (3) The Liturgy of the Eucharist, and (4) The Blessing and Dismissal. As a way of summarizing what we are meant to bring to the world after the Mass is ended, we can refer to these Four dimensions of the Eucharist.
=s Family, the Church which is the Body of Christ Jesus, God=s Son. A strong Catholic value ids the belief that you cannot have Jesus without his Body the Church. The Body, this Family, this People gathers on Sunday to make this reality visible for all to see. Then being sent from the Sunday gathering, we should work for community and loving relationships wherever God has put us.
(2) The Liturgy of the Word. God has revealed himself to us; God has spoken to us. This is recorded in the letter to the Hebrews:
AIn times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last days, he spoke to us through a Son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word.@ (1:1-3)
God speaks to us a Word: his Son, who became human and lived among us, dying for our sins and rising to a new life, a new creation. Jesus came among us to initiate the Rule of God=s Love among us, which is called the Kingdom of God. The deeds and words of Jesus are recorded in the Scriptures and taught us from the Church=s Tradition. To be a Eucharistic people we should take God=s Word into the world and also study the Scriptures and Tradition for our inspiration.
(3) The Liturgy of the Eucharist. As a Eucharistic people we come to the Liturgy in order to give Thanks, proclaim the Paschal Mystery of Christ=s Dying and Rising, and join our gifts and our lives to the One sacrifice of Christ, for the service of his sacrificial love.
In our service to the world, we bring gratitude, generosity, a willingness to die to self and rise to the new life of Christ, and serve others in sacrificial love: in our homes, families, friendships, work, school, city, world. The Holy Spirit given to us in Baptism and renewed in the Eucharist helps us live this life of Christ in the Kingdom of God.
(4) Blessing and Dismissal. Finally, given so many blessings, we are blessed so that we may share God=s blessings with others. We are sent from the Mass to bring the life of Christ to others.
A Hymn captures this mission, ASent Forth By God=s Blessing@: (Listen to the Hymn HERE)
Sent forth by God's blessing,
our true faith confessing,
The people of God from his dwelling take leave.
God's sacrifice ended,
O now be extended.
The fruits of this Mass in all hearts who believe.
The seed of his teaching our inner souls reaching,
Shall blossom in action for God and for all.
His grace incite us, his love shall unite us
To further God's kingdom and answer his call.
With praise and thanks giving,
to God who is living,
The tasks of our ev'ryday life we embrace.
Our faith ever sharing,
in love ever caring,
We claim as our neighbour all those of each race.
One bread that has fed us,
one light that has led us
Unite us as one in his life that we share.
Then may all the living with praise and thanks giving
Give honour to Christ and his name that we bear.
I hope I have helped some with these reflections to appreciate the rich treasure given us in the Mass.