301 East Thirteenth Street, Antioch, CA 94509
The Holy Eucharist or Mass*
In spite of the diversity of worship styles in the Episcopal Church, Holy Eucharist always has the same components and the same shape as prescribed in the Book Of Common Prayer:
After the people gather we begin by praising God through song and prayer. The Ministers and Presider enter from the Church entrance and process to the altar sanctuary. The presider then greets the congregation with “Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” and we respond “And blessed be His kingdom, now and forever. Amen”,then leads us in a prayer for the purity of our hearts and minds. We then, except for Lent and Advent, sing a hymn of praise to the glory of God.
The Liturgy of the Word:
The presider then offers a prayer that collects our prayers into one. We then listen to as many as four readings from the Bible. Usually one from the Old Testament, a Psalm, something from the Epistles, and (always) a reading from the Gospels. The psalm is usually sung or recited by the congregation. The readings are prescribed by a Lectionary in a three year cycle.
Next, a sermon interpreting the readings appointed for the day is preached.
The congregation then recites the Nicene Creed, written in the Fourth Century and the Church’s statement of what we believe ever since.
Next, the congregation prays together—for the Church, the World, and those in need. We pray for the sick, thank God for all the good things in our lives, and finally, we pray for the dead. Then the congregation formally confesses their sins before God and one another. This is a corporate statement of what we have done and what we have left undone, followed by a pronouncement of absolution. In pronouncing absolution, the presider assures the congregation that God is always ready to forgive our sins.
The presider (e.g. priest or bishop) concludes with a prayer that gathers the petitions into a communal offering of intercession.
The congregation then greets one another with a sign of “peace.”
The Liturgy of the Eucharist (Communion):
Next, the priest stands at the table, which has been set with a cup of wine and a plate of bread or wafers, raises his or her hands, and greets the congregation again, saying “The Lord be With You.” Now begins the Eucharistic Prayer, in which the presider tells the story of our faith, from the beginning of Creation, through the choosing of Israel to be God’s people, through our continual turning away from God, and God’s calling us to return. Finally, the presider tells the story of the coming of Jesus Christ, and about the night before his death, on which he instituted the Eucharistic meal (communion) as a continual remembrance of him.
The presider blesses the bread and wine, and the congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer. Finally, the presider breaks the bread and offers it to the congregation, as the “gifts of God for the People of God.”
The congregation then shares the consecrated bread and the wine. The people come forward to receive the bread and wine or to receive a blessing.
The term "Mass" is derived from the Late Latin word missa (dismissal), a word used in the concluding formula of Mass in Latin: "Ite, missa est" ("Go; it is the dismissal"). "In antiquity, missa simply meant 'dismissal'. In Christian usage, however, it gradually took on a deeper meaning. The word 'dismissal' has come to imply a 'mission'. These few words succinctly express the missionary nature of the Church.