Today is the solemnity of Corpus Christi. It is the celebration of the Body, the Blood, the Soul, and the Divinity of Jesus Christ, present under the appearances of bread and wine. Today is the solemn celebration of one of the seven sacraments, the sacrament of all sacraments, the Holy Eucharist. We celebrate the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist whenever we gather for the Holy Mass. Since we celebrate the Mass very frequently, it is possible to become so familiar with the Mass that we do not pay attention to the details and the significance of what we do at Mass.

The Holy mass is divided into two parts: Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist. In the Liturgy of the Word, we listen to our salvation history. In the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, we see the summation and the climax of that history put into action in what Jesus Christ did for us in his self-giving as our food and drink.

The Holy Mass can also be broken down into five parts: Introductory Rite, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, Communion Rite, and Dismissal Rite. Introductory Rite begins with the procession and continues until the Collect (Opening Prayer). The liturgy of the Word begins with the First Reading and continues until the Homily (preaching) or the General Intercession on Sundays. The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist begins with the Presentation of Gifts and continues until the Doxology/Great Amen. The Communion Rite begins with The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father) and continues until the Post Communion Prayer (Concluding Prayer). The Dismissal Rite is when the priest gives the final blessing and the priest or the deacon sends us to go forth and proclaim the gospel of the Lord.

Sometime ago, I discovered a simpler way of presenting these five parts of Mass in a storyline and I call it the five things we do at Mass. The Introductory Rite is when we arrive. The liturgy of the Word is when we listen to the word of God. The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist is when we give thanks to God. The Communion Rite is when we eat and drink the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ. The Dismissal Rite is when the priest or the deacon sends us forth. So, should anyone ever ask you, “What exactly do you do at Mass?” You may say, “We do five things at Mass: we arrive, we listen, we give thanks, we eat, and we go.”

The name Mass comes from one of the five parts of the Mass. Take a guess! The name comes from the last part, the Dismissal Rite (We go). The name comes from the Latin formula for the dismissal of the congregation: “Ite missa est” (Go, it is the sending [dismissal]). This is the point the priest or the deacon sends us to go out and proclaim the good news. Choosing the name of the entire celebration from the last part of the Mass tells us how important that part is to the entire celebration. When the priest or the deacon says, “Go forth, the Mass is ended,” we respond, “Thanks be to God.”  For some people, it sounds like, “Finally, oh finally, we are set free, thanks be to God!” But that is not the idea. The “Thanks be to God” we say at the end is a celebration of the fact that we have received so much love from God; we thank God for that love, and we are pledging to go and share same with others.

So, whenever we attend Mass, we are undergoing formation as missionaries where we receive the training to go and share what we have received from Jesus Christ. When the priest or the deacon dismisses us, it is a reminder that we ought to share the salvation story we heard at Mass. The dismissal is a reminder that our life must be lived in thanksgiving to God. The dismissal reminds us that Jesus fed us at Mass and he expects us to go and feed the hungry. Remember, we have been blessed to bless; we have been given to give. My dearly beloved in Christ, as we celebrate Corpus Christi today, let us pray that the receiving of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ may bring us eternal life through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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