THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST: The Concluding Rites (3)

The Dismissal of the people

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (n. 90) says the purpose of the dismissal is “so that each may go back to doing good works, praising and blessing God.”

“Go forth, the Mass is ended.”

The Latin phrase, Ite missa est, from which this formula is translated, has two meanings. One  translation is, “Go, it has been sent,” and some scholars believe it referred to the Eucharist being send out to the sick at the conclusion of Mass. Others believe it was adapted from a formula of dismissal used in ancient Roman court etiquette.

In a sense, both meanings fit. We are being sent. We just partook of the Eucharist in Holy Communion. We are its bearers.

“Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”

At the conclusion of Mass we are not only dismissed; we are sent. We’ve heard the Word of God once again during the celebration of the Eucharist, and we’re called to go out and share that Word with others. Each of us is called to be an apostle, and Our Lord told his apostles, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation”  (Mark 16:15). The Twelve are no longer with us, but the Lord’s mandate remains and we are called to keep sharing the Good News.

“Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”

We know it’s not enough to repeat the Gospel; we have to live it. Everyone has met a Christian in their lives who doesn’t practice what he preaches. If we glorify God through Christian living we’ll exercise that force of “attraction” that Pope Francis reminds us, quoting Pope Benedict XVI, is the key to evangelization (see Evangelii Gaudium, n. 15).

“Go in peace.”

Our Lord promised us a special peace in the Last Supper, the first celebration of the Eucharist (John 14:27; see also 16:33; 20:19–23,26), and now we have partaken of that peace by receiving Holy Communion with the right dispositions. Let’s be a beacon of peace in the lives of others as well.

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