It is more common to say, “I’m going to Mass” than it is to say, “I’m going to celebrate the Eucharist.” Yet that is in fact what we do. When we go to Mass-we celebrate the Eucharist. The Catholic Catechism teaches us that the Eucharist is the ‘source and summit of the Christian life’. The word Eucharist comes from the Greek and means thanksgiving. The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification.
“Mass” is an English rendering of the Latin term “missa.” In Latin, the celebration of the Eucharist ends with “Ite missa est,” which translated into English means “Go, it is sent,” the “it” being the Church. From the Latin word “missa” comes the English word “dismiss.” So “Mass” means “dismissal.” As Catholics, we witness Eucharist as Holy Mass. At the end of Eucharist the priest sends us forth to love and serve the Lord and one another and to do God’s will in our daily lives. Because of the familiarity of the ending, the celebration of the Eucharist eventually became known simply as the “Mass” and the term Mass has been used since the fourth century.
At Mass Our Lord calls us to Himself. Through His saving act Jesus invites us to a unity with God the Father through the power of His Holy Spirit. At Mass, through the Eucharist, Jesus makes communion with God possible. Following Jesus does not stop with this communion, for once He has united us to Himself, He then sends us forth with a mission , a dismissal. As Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
Submitted by: A. Schwelm, Assistant Library Director