The celebration of the Mass is a great gift to and from God! As we participate, we receive God’s Word in the Sacred Scriptures and the Bread of Life in the Eucharist.
These gifts are worthy of prayer, praise and thanksgiving! Both the Word and the Eucharist strengthen us to go forth as missionaries to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ into the world. After receiving Communion, we continue as a community of believers to pray and praise God through the Communion hymns. There is also a brief time for private prayers of reflection and gratitude. Then we join all of our prayers and praises into one with the Prayer after Communion. At this time, the Concluding Rites begin.
According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Chapter II, #90), the Concluding Rites consist of:
a) brief announcements
b) the priest’s blessing
c) the dismissal of the people by the deacon or priest, so that each may go out to do good works, praising and blessing God
d) the kissing of the altar by the priest and deacon, the bow and recessional
These rites allow us to embrace our identity as apostolic missionaries: to be “sent out” to share the grace of God that He has bestowed upon us. We can relate the four parts of the concluding rites as informing, blessing, commissioning, and sending.
While it is completely understandable to note that there are perfectly acceptable reasons for a person to leave before the Mass has ended (an emergency arising, a sick member of the family, etc.), this should be merely extraordinary, not the norm. Life is challenging enough so we need all the graces that God can bestow upon us! So if you are able, please remain through the recessional so that we all may be informed, blessed, commissioned and sent to proclaim through our words and actions that Jesus Christ is Lord!
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Scott M. Circe