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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 424 pages of information about Baltimore Catechism No. 4 (of 4).
to the other side of the altar, and the priest reads the Gospel—­that is, some portion of the Gospel written by the evangelists.  After the Gospel the priest, except in some Masses, says the Creed, which is a profession of his faith in the mysteries of our religion.  After this the priest uncovers the chalice, and offers up the bread and wine which is to be consecrated.  This is called the Offertory of the Mass.  The offertory is followed by the Lavabo, or washing of the priest’s hands:  first, that the priest’s hands may be purified to touch the Sacred Host; and, second, to signify the purity of soul he must have to offer the Holy Sacrifice.  After saying some prayers in secret he says the Preface, which is a solemn hymn of praise and thanksgiving.  The Preface ends with the Sanctus.  The Sanctus is followed by the Canon of the Mass.  Canon means a rule; so this part of the Mass is called the Canon, because it never changes.  The Epistle, Gospel, prayers, etc., are different on the different feasts, but the Canon of the Mass is always the same.  The Canon is the part of the Mass from the Sanctus down to the time the priest again covers the chalice.  After the Canon the priest says the Post-Communion, or prayer after Communion; then he gives the blessing and goes to the other side of the altar, and ends Mass by saying the last Gospel.

During the Mass the priest frequently makes the Sign of the Cross, genuflects or bends the knee before the altar, strikes his breast, etc.  What do all these ceremonies mean?  By the cross the priest is reminded of the death of Our Lord; he genuflects as an act of humility, and he strikes his breast to show his own unworthiness.  You will understand all the ceremonies of the altar if you remember that Our Lord—­the King of kings—­is present on it, and the priest acts in His presence as the servants in a king’s palace would act when approaching their king or in his presence, showing their respect by bowing, kneeling, etc.  You will see this more clearly if you watch the movements of the priest at the altar while the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.

Lesson 23 ON THE END FOR WHICH THE HOLY EUCHARIST WAS INSTITUTED

251 Q. Why did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?  A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist: 

(1) To unite us to Himself and to nourish our souls with His divine
    life.
(2) To increase sanctifying grace and all the virtues in our souls. (3) To lessen our evil inclinations. (4) To be a pledge of everlasting life. (5) To fit our bodies for a glorious resurrection. (6) To continue the sacrifice of the Cross in His Church.

“To nourish.”  The Holy Eucharist does to our souls what natural food does to our bodies.  It strengthens them and makes up for the losses we have sustained by sin, etc.  “A pledge,” because it does not seem probable that a person who all during life had been fed and nourished with the sacred body of Our Lord should after death be buried in Hell.  “To fit our bodies,” because Our Lord has promised that if we eat His flesh and drink His blood, that is, receive the Holy Eucharist, He will raise us up on the last day, or Day of Judgment. (John 6:55).

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