The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a funda-
mental structure which has been preserved throughout the centu-
ries down to our own day. It displays two great parts that form a
— the gathering, the liturgy of theWord, with readings, homily, and
— the liturgy of the Eucharist, with the presentation of the bread
and wine, the consecratory thanksgiving, and communion.
The liturgy of theWord and liturgy of the Eucharist together
form “one single act of worship”;
the Eucharistic table set for us is
the table both of the Word of God and of the Body of the Lord.
Is this not the same movement as the Paschal meal of the
risen Jesus with his disciples? Walking with them he explained the
Scriptures to them; sitting with them at table “he took bread,
blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.”
The movement of the celebration
All gather together.
Christians come together in one place
for the Eucharistic assembly. At its head is Christ himself, the
principal agent of the Eucharist. He is high priest of the New
Covenant; it is he himself who presides invisibly over every
Eucharistic celebration. It is in representing him that the bishop or
in the person of Christ the head
in persona Christi capitis
presides over the assembly, speaks after the readings, receives the
offerings, and says the Eucharistic Prayer.
have their own active
parts to play in the celebration, each in his own way: readers, those
who bring up the offerings, those who give communion, and the
whole people whose “Amen” manifests their participation.
Liturgy of the Word
includes “the writings of the
prophets,” that is, the Old Testament, and “the memoirs of the
apostles” (their letters and the Gospels). After the homily, which is
an exhortation to accept this Word as what it truly is, the Word of
and to put it into practice, come the intercessions for all
men, according to the Apostle’s words: “I urge that supplications,
prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for
kings, and all who are in high positions.”