What is Mass? What are we really doing?

Catholics worship God in a variety of ways, but our chief act of communal worship is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In the Western Church we call this service “Mass,”  an English word derived from the Latin text of the priest’s dismissal at the end of the liturgy (“Ite, missa est.“).

We believe that Jesus Christ accomplishes the work of salvation by making Himself present in our world, especially in sacraments. In baptism we are plunged into Christ’s death and resurrection, becoming God’s adopted and beloved children. As disciples of Christ, we share communion with him in the breaking of bread and prayers that are the Eucharist.  For us, liturgy is truly sacred: uniting ourselves to Christ in prayer, worship, and thanksgiving is our most important act as Christians. Although the Church is active in many other ways, liturgy is the “summit” towards which all other activity is directed, and the “font” from which all power for ministry flows.

At Mass, we celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist and offer ourselves to God. We taste the heavenly liturgy we are already journeying towards. Attending Mass for the first time can be intimidating or even confusing, but don’t worry! Relax, reflect on the sights and sounds, take time to pray in your own words, and listen to the Word of God

It is easy to find entertainment in today’s world. Mass is something different: a place to contemplate and pray, a place to bring the sufferings and joys of daily life to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies at the Cathedral

Sunday Mass includes prayers, hymns, readings from the Bible, a sermon (also called a “homily”), and the Eucharist. In all this we worship the Triune God: we offer thanksgiving and praise to the Father, in the sacrificial memorial of Christ and his Church, by the power of his word and of his Spirit.

The celebration of Mass usually lasts from 55 to 75 minutes. You are encouraged to stay until the priest and other ministers process out of church.
If you would like to read along with the prayers or Bible readings at Mass, books in the pews (called “Sunday’s Word” or “Pray Together”) contain almost all of the texts. These books can be a bit confusing at times, so don’t be afraid to ask someone nearby for help finding the right page. However, one doesn’t need to follow along – if you’re comfortable, just listen and pray along in your own words.

Collection baskets are passed person-to-person down each pew. The collection is used to support the various ministries of the church, including charitable outreach. Occasionally, a second collection will be taken for a missionary or some other need. Neither visitors nor registered members are required to give.
After praying the Lord’s Prayer — the Our Father — we exchange a sign of peace. This is usually a handshake or, between couples and families, a kiss or hug. If you are not comfortable with this gesture, you are not obligated to participate, a smile is fine.
The basic condition for receiving the Eucharist is to be able to honestly say “Amen” to the Catholic faith with integrity of one’s belief and actions.

Roman Catholics not in a state of serious sin, and members of various other Eastern churches are welcome to join us in Communion. We use real wine, and we believe that God’s grace transforms the bread and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11:27-28, Paul writes, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Through confession, Christ offers healing and conversion — reconciliation between not just God and you, but between you and the entire Body of Christ. If you’re Catholic and not sure about receiving communion, make time for the healing sacrament of reconciliation…

Receiving communion acknowledges both our faith in Christ as well as our communion with the apostolic teaching of the Church. The Catholic Church longs for the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one” (John 17:21). We grieve the division within the Body of Christ, because division is contrary to the will of Christ, Who is the Head of the Church. These divisions in teaching and community are real, the sad result of human sin. Because of these divisions, those who are not one in the unity of the faith should not receive communion at Mass. Rather, we and all Christians are called to see other means to work towards the true unity in Christ that will allow us to all come to the table together.

At Communion time, ministers will bring the Body and Blood of Christ to various stations in the front of the church. We make a gesture of reverence and thanksgiving before receiving the Sacrament. The Body of Christ may be received in the hand or can be placed directly into your mouth. The Blood of Christ is distributed in common cups; the distributor wipes the cup clean after each recipient’s sip.
As a visitor, you are our honored guest — please dress as you are comfortable. We encourage respectful dress for Mass that helps us embody the idea that Mass is the highpoint of our week. Some parishioners wear suits and business attire to Sunday worship, and others dress more casually. Worshipers tend to be more formally dressed for 9:00am and 11:00am Sunday morning Mass.
No. Our parish will not ask you to raise your hand, fill out a “visitor’s card,” or be identified in any way. However, if you would like to talk to someone when you attend an event or Mass, please fill out our online visitor connection form, and we’ll make sure you have someone to meet or sit with the when you attend.
Bring a heart open to hearing the Word of God! Readings from Scripture and hymnals are located in the pew.

Our Building and Grounds

Entrances: The front entrance to St. Matthew Cathedral is located at 1701 Miami Street between E. Dubail Street and E. Dayton St. There are also entrances to the church from the parking lots on the north and south sides of the Cathedral and school building. The south parking area (accessed from E. Dayton Street) is the largest off-the-street parking area at our church. Those side entrances will take you into side vestibules off the front of the church, while the Miami St. entrance takes you into the back of the church — the “narthex.”

Handicap Access: Handicapped parking is available in the south parking lot. There is room for wheelchairs in the front left section of the church, near the south door entrance.

Hearing Assistance: Hearing assistance devices are available at all services in the “server sacristy” (room near the north entrance to the church). Please see any usher for assistance.

Seating: You are welcome to sit anywhere. Pews on the front left of the church have additional space for wheelchairs.

Lavatories: Restrooms are located on either side in the Miami St. entrance of the church.

Fussy Babies and Children: Babies and children of all ages are welcome.  If your baby is crying excessively, please take him or her to the rear of the church (Miami St. entrance) or into the “cry room” (also known as the “bridal room”) on the north side of the Miami St. entrance.

Kneeling: Our pews contain kneelers and we kneel as a sign of reverence during portions of prayer. Members of other religions and people with health problems may sit during the kneeling times.

Summer and Winter Concerns: Our church is air conditioned in the summer. Because our pastors live in the rectory, adjacent to the church, we always have Mass (even during significant snowfall) in the winter. However, if it is unsafe for you to travel during winter weather, we encourage you to remain at home.