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The New Translation — The Four Presences of Christ
Friday, July 1st 2011

Did you know that the translation of the Mass which we currently use is going to change? Over the coming weeks we will have short articles which will help us understand what these changes are and why they have come about.

The Four Presences of Christ

Belief in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is one of the hallmarks of Catholic faith and worship. However, the Second Vatican Council reminded us of our ancient faith: Christ is always present in his church, especially in its liturgical celebrations. So, each time we come to Mass we experience the presence of Christ in four unique ways. This principle is considered so important that the Church continues to remind us that Christ is present to us and in us.

  1. Christ is present in the congregation – the people gathered together; “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20). Through Baptism, we each become part of Christ’s body. When we gather for Eucharist our first task is to assemble as one body. As we do, Christ reveals his presence to us in one another.
  2. Christ is present in the person of the priest – the priest, as presider, leads the community in prayer and helps us to understand the words and actions of the liturgy. Since the true leader of our worship is Christ himself, we recognise Christ in the presider, inviting us to share in his worship of the Father. The priest does so by the way he acts and speaks – with dignity, reverence and humility – so that the living presence of Christ is conveyed in and through him (GIRM #93)
  3. Christ is present in the Scriptures that we listen to during Mass. At the beginning of John’s Gospel, we hear that Christ IS the Word of God. He is God speaking to us. In all the words of the readings, the psalm and the homily, Christ speaks directly to us so His Word may take root in our hearts.
  4. Christ is present in the bread and wine when it becomes Christ’s Body and Blood. When we receive these sacred elements “We become” as St. Augustine said, “what we eat and drink”. Christ offers us himself as nourishment in the meal we call Communion. This union is our most complete union with Christ, but it is simultaneously communion with all the members of his body.

The more we are able to understand the Mass, the more we enter into the mystery of the Eucharist – the source and summit of Christian life. The new translation will help us to understand more clearly what our faith is teaching us.

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