The Catholic church is truly the largest and one of the oldest Christian organization on earth. With a membership estimated at 1.29 billion members, the Catholic Church is regarded by its followers as the one true church of Jesus Christ.
The rich traditions, ancient rituals, and deep history make the Catholic church the most respected religious institution worldwide. Catholic gather every Sunday, to offer praise and thanksgiving to God in the hopes of receiving forgiveness and blessing to better their lives. One of the largest parts of the rituals that go on during Sunday Mass is the Liturgy of the Word. The liturgy is an elaborate divine ritual that allows the church’s followers to establish a relationship with God through praise, worship, and readings from the Bible.
The Liturgy of the word in a Catholic mass is divided into four sections; The Reading of Scripture, The Homily, The Profession of Faith and finally The Universal Prayer.
The Reading of Scripture
Old and New Testament Readings: These readings are the highlight of the Liturgy that involves reading the different scriptures in an orderly manner. During most of the year, there are three reading of the scriptures. On the typical Sunday, there are reading taken first from the old Testament and then from the New Testament. It is only on Easter that the reading is taken from Acts of the Apostles which tells the history of the church in its earliest days. The Final reading is from one of the four Gospels.
The Gospel: Members of the Catholic church believe that scripture is holy and inspired by the Holy Spirit, During the reading of the scripture, it is during this time that God comes and communicates with us and instructs us towards a path of redemption and salvation.
Usually, between the reading of the two Testaments, a responsorial Psalm is sung, and people are engaged in meditation on the word. The Gospel is read soon after the two readings of the Testaments. This Gospel receives special ritual signs of reverence and honor before it is read by the priest. The gathered are required to stand for the reading of the Gospel.
The Gospel tells about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is welcomed with an acclamation of praise. Usually, the acclamation is “Alleluia” except on Lent when it changes.
The Homily involves the preaching given by the Priest/Deacon on various scriptures and the scripture of the day’s Liturgy. The Priest/Deacon draws practical lessons from the scriptures to help the gathered live much better lives and respond to the calling of Jesus to live in Holiness.
Profession of Faith
The Profession is recited from either the Nicene or Apostles Creed. These creeds are statements of faith that reaffirm the church members’ devotion to the Church’s teachings. The Nicene Creed dates back to the 4th century while the Apostles’ Creed is an ancient baptismal statement of faith from the earliest formation of the church.
The Prayer of the Faithful is an intercessory prayer made to God on behalf of the church, the world and the church member entrusting their needs to the only true and loving God.
The Liturgy of the word is something that every Catholic reveres and finds comfort in as the divine practice that brings them closer to God. If you are looking for a detailed explanation of the various parts of the Mass, you can refer to this article on the Vatican Website