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From the Preface to the Consecration


The Preface

The Priest now begins the great Eucharistic prayer, greeting the people with the words " Dominus vobiscum " ("The Lord be with you").  He intones the Proper Preface for the Mass of the day, which begins with the words " Vere dignum et justum est... " ("It is only meet and just...")

The "Sanctus" and "Benedictus"

At the end of the Preface the Priest repeats the words of the heavenly host " Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus... " ("Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts...") which is sung by the choir.  It is customary for the choir to delay the singing of the "Benedictus" until after the Consecration.

As the Sanctus begins, a bell rings three times to indicate to all present that  the Canon of the Mass is about to start.

Start of the Canon of the Mass

The most holy part of the Mass is about to start - the "Canon" or "Official Rule" of the Mass.  The Canon surrounds the Consecration of the Host and Chalice, where Christ renews the Sacrifice of Calvary through the actions of the Priest.

The prayers for this part of the Mass never change - with the exception that some feasts have their own special version of the prayer "Communicantes" and, on very rare occasions, the prayer "Hanc igitur".

The Church has preserved the prayers of the Canon without alteration for centuries and are a guarantee of orthodoxy in the celebration of the Mass.  Out of profound reverence for the mysteries that are about to take place, the Church instructs her Priests to recite the Canon inaudibly, that is, in a voice which only he himself can hear.

The "Te igitur" and Commemoration of the Living

In the prayer " Te igitur " ("Therefore, most gracious Father...") the Priest once again asks God to sanctify the gifts which are about to be changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, making the sign of the cross over the offerings three times to associate them with the Sacrifice which they renew.  This prayer is a clear statement that the Sacrifice is offered for the whole Church, the Pope, the Bishop and all true believers.

In the prayer " Memento, Domine " ("Be mindful, O Lord, of Thy servants...") the Priest prays for special and general intentions associated with this Mass and asks for the salvation of all the faithful who are present and for himself.

Commemoration of the Church Triumphant

In the prayer " Communicantes " ("In the unity of the holy fellowship...") the Priest commemorates the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles, the early Popes and martyrs of the Church, requesting that their merits and prayers may be added to the salvation brought about by God.

Prayers in preparation for the Consecration

Extending his hands over the host and chalice the Priest says the prayer " Hanc igitur " ("Graciously accept... this service of our worship...") and then with five signs of the cross over the victim during the prayer " Quam oblationem " ("Which oblation do Thou, O God, vouchsafe in all things to bless...").  A bell rings to indicate that the Consecration is about to begin.

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