(1) A History of the Mass

Liturgy Parish Toolkit – A History of the Mass

What’s needed: 

* Two hours
* A Video/DVD Presentation “A History of the Mass” Liturgy Training Publications 2001. Archdiocese of Chicago  available for discounted purchase (or loan) from the Diocesan Office of Worship and Christian Initiation)
* Depending on the number of participants and size of the room, either a TV/DVD player or a laptop/projector combination to project onto a screen or blank wall.
* seating to facilitate both viewing and conversation
* a knowledgeable facilitator (perhaps parish DRE, or another member of the staff, or a facilitator recommended by the Diocesan Office of Worship and Christian Initiation)
* Perhaps some refreshments for gathering time or break
* Prayer for the beginning and conclusion of the evening

Who might benefit from this presentation?

* Liturgical Ministers (we use this as part of School of Liturgy, so some recent participants might be good facilitators)
* Liturgy Committee Members
* Adults seeking greater knowledge of the Mass
* Adults entering into Full Communion
* Teens and Young Adults

Presentation Synopsis:
This presentation traces the evolution of the Mass and liturgical ministry development from the early “house churches” to post Vatican II liturgy and ministry today. It is bilingual (English and Spanish) and includes a discussion guide with questions to use after viewing.

Suggestions for doing the presentation:

View the video, pausing for discussion after each historical period. Allow time for folks to absorb what they have seen and heard, and consider using the following as discussion questions.

* What words and images drew your attention?

* What did you see in this video presentation that is similar to your experience at Mass? What is unfamiliar or surprising to you?

* How have people understood the presence of Christ in the Liturgy?

* The Origins of Our Mass (30-300)

What were the changes in the church buildings that show the distance between clergy and lay people worship?

* Medieval Times (800-1200)

What words or images stand out in your mind from this period?

Since only a few people now understand Latin,- so what effect do you think this had on how people participated in the liturgy and how they understood it?

In the medieval period the emphasis shifted strongly to focus on the transformed elements rather than on the transformed people. How do we achieve and maintain a proper balance between these two perspectives?

* Middle Ages to Trent (1200-1545)

What words or images stand out in your mind from this period?

How did music in the Mass and church architecture change at this time? What was the role of lay people in the liturgy?

What were some of the issues that the Council of Trent addressed? Are some of these issues still with us today?

* Trent to Vatican II (1545 – 1962)

What words or images stand out in your mind from this period?

After the Council of Trent, a single missal was mandated for the Western Church, standardizing the liturgy. This remained the pattern until the Second Vatican Council called for a reform of the liturgy that led to a new missal and variations in different cultures. What has been your experience of cultural variations and adaptations in the Mass?

What does “full, conscious and active participation” mean to you?
(Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy no. 14)

Do most people fully participate in worship?  Why? Why not?

* Vatican II and Beyond (1962-present)

How has this video helped you move closer to the vision of the Second Vatican Council? How can we help others to move closer to this vision?


Questions adapted from the History of the Mass Study Guide – Rev. Lawrence Mick – Liturgy Training Publications 2001, Archdiocese of Chicago.