Explanation of the Mass - Concluding Rites
Through a series of informational articles, we will try to explain terms, prayers, and actions that happen at Mass and why they happen. You will learn about the prayers the priest prays silently during Mass, as well as the people’s parts. References to GIRM in italics refer to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the book from which rites related to the Mass are codified. We hope this information will help to make your participation in Mass more meaningful and understandable.
GIRM 90. To the Concluding Rites belong the following:
- a) brief announcements, should they be necessary;
- b) the Priest’s Greeting and Blessing, which on certain days and occasions is expanded and expressed by the Prayer over the People or another more solemn formula;
- c) the Dismissal of the people by the Deacon or the Priest, so that each may go back to doing good works, praising and blessing God;
- d) the kissing of the altar by the Priest and the Deacon, followed by a profound bow to the altar by the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers or a genuflection to the tabernacle if it is behind the altar.
Mass does not end with the reception of Holy Eucharist. You have become a tabernacle of the most precious Body and Blood of Jesus, and should reflect on that and all gifts God has given you. What remains after the Liturgy of the Eucharist – the Concluding Rites – are very short but are still an important part of the Mass.
If there are special events happening within the parish that the priest wishes to be called to your attention, he may give brief announcements before the final blessing.
The priest then gives us God’s blessing in which we receive God’s grace that we need as we live out our lives during the week.
The priest or deacon then invokes the dismissal saying, “go forth, the Mass is ended” or similar prescribed words. The dismissal reminds us that, while the Mass may be concluded, our real purpose begins – to live out our lives as Catholic disciples of Jesus through our words and actions at home, at work or school, and with family and friends.
When the final song is being sung, the priest and deacon approach and kiss the altar, then line up with the other assisting ministers at the foot of the sanctuary, where they make a profound bow or genuflection and then turn to exit the church. As a sign of respect, the congregation remains in the pews until the priest and assisting ministers have left the church. The congregation then genuflects toward the tabernacle housing the Blessed Sacrament (or make a profound bow if genuflection is not possible) before leaving the church.