The Mass Broken Open: Part III

A four-week reflection

By Michael Morison, Jonathan Lewis, Fr. Patrick Michaels

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish

3 Oakdale Avenue

Mill Valley, CA 94941

“The Mass Broken Open,” Week 3

As people are seated after the Prayers of the Faithful, read the following:

The Mass is made up of two parts, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, with an introduction and a conclusion. Today we will be reflecting on the Liturgy of the Eucharist which begins with the Preparation of the Gifts and continues through the Prayer After Communion. It is helpful to look at the Liturgy of the Eucharist as having four parts based on Jesus’ action at the Last Supper: Take, Bless, Break, Give. He took bread and wine, he blessed them, he broke the bread, and gave the bread and wine to his disciples. In the same way we take bread and wine, we bless them, we break the bread and it is given back to us transformed.

As the ushers begin to take up the collection, read the following:

The Preparation of the Gifts:

…comes from Jesus taking the bread and wine at the Last Supper, receiving them as gifts. We call the offering of bread and wine at Mass the Preparation of the Gifts because we are preparing to give ourselves to God as gifts. We offer ourselves along with the bread and wine, taken from among the community which are received by the priest, and offered to God on our behalf. As the bread and wine are taken, received and transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, so also are we.

Let us reflect:

– Am I ready to offer my life to God, no matter how imperfect, joined together with these gifts as they are brought forward?

After the priest has washed his hands read the following:

The Prayer Over the Gifts

…completes the preparation of the gifts, where the priest offers them to God on our behalf. He invites us to pray that our gifts will be received; we stand and respond by affirming our desire for that to be true. He then prays the prayer over the gifts of our lives and bread and wine that they might be transformed. We respond “Amen,” which means “yes, so be it.”

After the completion of the prayer read the following:

The Eucharistic Prayer

… echoes Jesus’ blessing of the bread and wine at the Last Supper, is also the moment of transformation for us. The prayer includes the Preface, the Holy, Holy, and the Eucharistic Prayer itself (which we will look at next week in greater detail).


The Preface

…and does not refer to an introduction but to a prayer proclaimed in the presence of the assembly. The priest, as the leader of the Church’s prayer, in order to continue, needs our voiced response. This invitation and dialogue ensures that we are all on the same page and continue together. He then proclaims our intent to give praise and thanks to God, with our whole hearts.

Let us reflect:

-Am I grateful for God’s work in my life?

-Am I ready to put that gratitude into words and actions?

The Preface is prayed.

Then read the following:

The Holy, Holy


We are not alone in our praise of God. Singing the Holy, Holy, Holy unites our voices with all who celebrate Mass throughout the world today and all who have gone before us and give praise to God in heaven. This song of praise reminds us that at Mass heaven touches earth and that we are entering into God’s time and God’s space. We kneel after the song in reverence of God’s presence among us and in awe for what is about to take place on the altar.

Let the Eucharistic Prayer continue, and after the Great Amen, read the following:

The Communion Rite

…begins at this point and continues through the Prayer After Communion. This part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist demonstrates how we must be joined to one another if we wish to be joined with Christ, and that joining only takes place as we allow ourselves to be broken open.

The Our Father


… is a prayer that echoes our relationship with God, our dependence on and confidence in the power of his love in our lives. It also expresses our recognition that we are broken (‘forgive us our trespasses’), and need to allow our hearts to be broken open (‘as we forgive those who trespass against us’) so that this relationship with God and the community can continue and grow.

Let us reflect:

-Have I listened to these words to consider what they mean for me?

The Our Father is prayed. Then read the following:

The Sign of Peace


…gives concrete evidence that we have allowed our hearts to be broken open, because we are able to take the peace that God’s love brings us and share it with those in the community around us.

Let us reflect:

-Can the peace, that God’s love for me creates, make me more open to the people around me?

Before the Lamb of God begins read the following:

The Fraction Rite, during the Lamb of God,

…is where the priests takes the large host and breaks it, representing that all the hosts are broken from one bread to be shared. Jesus allowed his own life to be broken open and given to us by dying on the cross. We can die to our pride and self-centeredness by breaking open our own lives so they can be shared with God and one another. Here we recognize that it is not our worthiness that allows us to receive Jesus, it is his desire to “come under our roof” to heal us with his love, joining us into one Body.


Let us reflect:

-Am I ready to be transformed, joined together with my brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ?

Then after the dialogue, before the procession to communion begins, read the following:

The Communion Procession

…is Christ giving himself (in bread and wine, our lives, transformed) back to us, so that we might share in his life, or as it is said in John’s gospel “he might be one with us.” While we join in a song giving God praise for what he is doing in our lives through the Eucharist, we move in procession to receive his redeemed life which he gives to us. After all have received, we observe our third profound silence to take in all God has accomplished in us.

Let us reflect:

-Am I aware that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and that I am called to carry his healing presence to all that I meet?

After silence has been observed, read the following:

The Prayer After Communion

…concludes the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The priest, united with us, gives voice to our gratitude for all God has done in our lives, and what He is preparing us for: salvation, perfect union in God’s love.

The Prayer After Communion is prayed. Then read the following:

Next week we will look at the Eucharistic Prayer and the Concluding Rites.

Intellectual property and written text 2011: Michael Morison, Jonathan Lewis, Fr. Patrick Michaels, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Mill Valley, CA.


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