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Commentary: Introductory Rites

The first gesture of the priest is to venerate the altar. The altar is a sign of Jesus. Before he begins to direct the celebration he kisses the altar, and in doing so shows his love for Christ, the Lord who has seduced his heart.

The first words of the priest are, “The Lord be with you”. This should remind us of two passages of the gospels. ‘They will call him Emmanuel, God-with-us’. And again, Jesus’ own promise, “I am with you all the days until the end of time”.

It’s said that the rhythmic beauty of the Gloria can only be appreciated if it is sung in its original language, Greek. Whilst that option might not be open to most people, the Gloria has another beauty which is visible if we can put aside our familiarity with the words. The praise for God that is expressed in the Gloria is in a class of its own.

The final part of the Introductory Rites is the Collect. The priest invites us to pray, and then gives us a brief time of silence to form our own prayers. He then ‘collects’ all the intentions into a single prayer, the Collect.

The tradition of singing at Mass goes right back to Jesus. Both Matthew and Mark’s gospels tell us that Jesus and the Apostles sang psalms at the Last Supper. It’s importance is the same now as it was then, so we begin the Mass with a song.

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