Mass was really nice, too. It all started when our visiting priest had us say the Confiteor. Father R. rarely says this prayer during Mass, and yet it is one of my favorite prayers in the Mass to say. For my non-Catholic readers, let me first put the prayer down here.
I confess to Almighty God
And to you, my brothers and sisters,
That I have sinned through my own fault,
(strike breast here)
In my thoughts and in my words,
In what I have done and in what I have failed to do.
And I ask Blessed Mary, ever Virgin,
All the angels and saints,
And you, my brothers and sisters,
To pray for me to the Lord our God.
If you read the prayer carefully - and Catholics should do this every once in a while, too - you will notice that it is a truly beautiful prayer. Through saying it, we stand before God and our brethren and admit that we are sinners. We admit that we sin in many ways - including often-overlooked sins of omission - and ask the saints and angels to join with all of our brethren in praying for us.
Father R. tends to give an introduction to the contents of the day's Mass and then proceed with the "Lord, have mercy" prayer (Kyrie Eleison). Note:This is perfectly legitimate and not a liturgical abuse. But Father R. definitely seems to have a preference to use this form during most liturgical seasons. (I'm pretty sure that I recall correctly that we say the Confiteor during penitential seasons, i.e. Advent and Lent.) Usually, to be honest, Father has a long enough introduction to the Mass that I say this prayer to myself. I'm not trying to be contrary, nor do I draw attention to myself by striking my chest during the line that calls for it. I just want to say this prayer, to ask the saints and the Blessed Virgin to pray for me.
And so usually our parish does not say the prayer as a whole. When we say the Confiteor, we also say the Kyrie. We ask for God's mercy and forgiveness after admitting to everyone how very much we need it. The Confiteor sets up the reason for the Kyrie. It reminds us of why we are asking God for mercy - three times over, no less.
And there is also a great power that comes from all of us saying this together. When I whisper the prayer under my breath, no one else (that is, no one who isn't in Heaven) knows that I have asked for these prayers. (And God knows how very much I need them!) But when we all say the prayer together, everyone knows that we each have asked the others to pray for us. And some people even have the presence of mind to actually do that. (Need I say that it just occurred to me that I ought to immediately pray for my parish family at that moment?)
When the priest began the prayer, I was so happy and relieved! By the end of the prayer, I was in tears of joy. And then, when we were finished admitting our guilt and asking for the prayers of the parish, saints, angels, and Our Lady, we began the Kyrie.
And what depth of meaning was added to this prayer by the simplicity of saying the other!
By the end of the Kyrie, my tears hadn't stopped.
And then, it occurred to me just why the very next thing we do is sing the Gloria.
We have asked for prayers and received them. Then we asked for forgiveness, and God is ready to give that, too. And so now we sing praises and thanksgiving to Him Who forgives us all!
Glory to God in the Highest
And peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, Almighty God and Father;
We worship you, we give you thanks,
We praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Son of the Father.
Lord God, Lamb of God
You take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us;
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.
For You alone are the Holy One,
You alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High Jesus Christ,
With the Holy Spirit in the Glory of God the Father. Amen.
What a wondrous thing the Mass is! What a perfection of worship and prayer we have in its order!
(For more information on the Mass, you can order a free CD from The Mary Foundation. They have several CD's that discuss and explain various aspects of the Catholic Faith, and the explanation of the Mass -given by Father Larry Richards - is excellent. As a matter of fact, the CD's and mp3's at the last link are also excellent and worth the small fee charged for them.)