What Not to Miss at Mass: Introduction

There’s a lot going on at Mass! How can we possibly keep up with it all? This series is a simple, weekly, step-by-step walk through the Mass. It is intended to help both adults and children to better understand what’s going on in the Church’s liturgical prayer so we can all participate more fully in the holy sacrifice. We encourage parents to talk to their children about the different parts of the Mass so Catholics of all ages can grow in their understanding and participation in the liturgy.

So let’s dive right in and find out what not to miss at Mass!

The Order of the Mass

The Mass is made up of two major parts: the Liturgy of the Word (in which we hear and respond to the Sacred Scriptures) and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (in which we participate, led by the priest, in the re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice). The Mass also has introductory rites (to prepare us for the two main parts of the liturgy) and concluding rites (to send us out to carry out Christ’s mission in the world). Here’s a basic outline of the Order of the Mass:

Introductory Rites
  • Entrance
  • Greeting
  • Penitential Act
  • Glory to God
  • Collect

Liturgy of the Word

  • First Reading
  • Responsorial Psalm
  • Second Reading (on Sundays and solemnities)
  • Gospel Acclamation
  • Gospel
  • Homily
  • Profession of Faith (on Sundays and solemnities)
  • Universal Prayer

Liturgy of the Eucharist

  • Presentation of the Gifts
  • Preparation of the Altar
  • Prayer Over the Offerings
  • Eucharistic Prayer
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • Sign of Peace
  • Lamb of God
  • Holy Communion
  • Prayer After Communion

Concluding Rites

  • Optional announcements
  • Greeting and Blessing
  • Dismissal

More Resources

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.