Introduction

Fundamentals of liturgical theology are explained, such as the work of the Trinity, Paschal Mystery, active participation by the Church and her members, sacraments, mystagogical catechesis. Ritual elements of the Mass, especially words, are then examined in light of these fundamentals.

Heart of the Mass

Professor Christopher Carstens

The Heart of the Mass: A Sacramental and Linguistic Approach

Fundamentals of liturgical theology are explained, such as the work of the Trinity, Paschal Mystery, active participation by the Church and her members, sacraments, mystagogical catechesis. Ritual elements of the Mass, especially words, are then examined in light of these fundamentals.

Jesus Christ and his saving Paschal Mystery are the content of every liturgical celebration. These are made present through the medium of sacramental signs and symbols: “What was visible in our Savior,” says St. Leo the Great, “has passed over into his sacraments.” One of the liturgy’s most privileged sacramental signs is language. The words of the praying Church are bearers of the “Word of the Father.” To hear the Church pray the Gloria (for example) is to hear the Word. To see the priest at the chair is to see Christ, the Head of his Church. But to hear and see in this way require a “mystagogical” vision, where our natural senses are led to encounter the liturgical Christ in sacramental signs. Thus, a paradigm for a mystagogical catechesis will be developed and then applied to the Mass’s most important signs, symbols, and words.

Lessons

  1. Introduction—Getting to Work
  2. Work of God
  3. People of God
  4. Participation
  5. Sacrament
  6. Symbols and Sacramentals
  7. Mystagogy
  8. A Logical Look at the Liturgy
  9. Linguistic Mystagogy
  10. Introductory Rites
  11. Liturgy of the Word
  12. Liturgy of the Eucharist
  13. Communion and Concluding Rites
  14. Course Conclusion

Required Resources:

  • Christopher Carstens and Douglas Martis. Mystical Body, Mystical Voice: Encountering Christ in the Words of the Mass. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2011.
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Lessons

Here is the class outline:

Introduction to The Heart of the Mass
Work of God
People of God
Participation
Sacrament
Symbols and Sacramentals
Mystagogy
Midterm Exam
Logical Look at the Liturgy
Linguistic Mystagogy
Introductory Rites
Liturgy of the Word
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Communion and Concluding Rites
Course Conclusion
Final Exam