What elements are essential to a Holy Mass?
Every Holy Mass (celebration of the Eucharist) unfolds in two main parts, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
In the Liturgy of the Word, we hear readings from the Old and New Testament and also the Gospel. Besides that there is an opportunity for preaching and general intercessory prayers. In the subsequent Liturgy of the Eucharist, bread and wine are offered, consecrated, and distributed to the faithful at Communion.
How is the Mass structured?
Holy Mass begins with the gathering of the faithful and the entrance of the priest and the others who serve the sanctuary (altar servers, lectors, cantors, and so on). After the greeting comes the Penitential Rite, which concludes with the Kyrie. On Sundays (outside of Advent and Lent) and feast days, the Gloria is then sung or recited. The prayer of the day introduces one of two readings from the Old and New Testament, followed by the responsorial psalm. Before the Gospel is read, there is an Alleluia, or acclamation. After the proclamation of the Gospel on Sundays and feast days, the priest or deacon gives a homily at least on Sundays and feast days. Then, again only on Sundays and feast days, the congregation professes its common faith in the Creed, followed by the intercessions. The second part of Holy Mass begins with the preparation of the gifts, which concludes with the Offertory prayer. The high point of the Eucharistic celebration is the Eucharistic Prayer, which is introduced by the Preface and the Sanctus. Now the gifts of bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. The Eucharistic Prayer concludes, finally, in the Doxology, which makes the transition to the Lord’s Prayer. Next is the prayer for peace, the Agnus Dei, the breaking of the bread, and the distribution of the holy Gifts to the faithful, which often is done only under the form of the Body of Christ. Holy Mass ends with meditation, thanksgiving, a concluding prayer, and a blessing by the priest.
Who leads the celebration of the Eucharist?
Actually Christ himself acts in every celebration of the Eucharist. The bishop or the priest represents him.
It is the Church’s belief that the celebrant stands at the altar in persona Christi capitis (Latin = in the person of Christ, the Head). This means that the priests do not merely act in Christ’s place or at his command; rather, on the basis of their ordination, Christ himself, as Head of the Church, acts through them.