The Mass begins with the entrance chant/song. The celebrant and other ministers enter in procession and reverence the altar with a bow and/or a kiss. The altar is a symbol of Christ at the heart of the assembly and so deserves this special reverence.
All make the Sign of the Cross and the celebrant extends a greeting to the gathered people in words taken from Scripture.
The Penitential Act follows the greeting. At the very beginning of the Mass, the faithful recall their sins and place their trust in God’s abiding mercy. The Penitential Act includes the Kyrie Eleison, a Greek phrase meaning, “Lord, have mercy.” This litany recalls God’s merciful actions throughout history. On Sundays, especially in Easter Time, in place of the customary Penitential Act, from time to time the blessing and sprinkling of water to recall Baptism may take place.
On Sundays, solemnities, and feasts, the Gloria follows the Penitential Act. The Gloria begins by echoing the proclamation of the angels at the birth of Christ: “Glory to God in the highest!” In this ancient hymn, the gathered assembly joins the heavenly choirs in offering praise and adoration to the Father and Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
The Introductory Rites conclude with an opening prayer, called the Collect. The celebrant invites the gathered assembly to pray and, after a brief silence, proclaims the prayer of the day. The Collect gathers the prayers of all into one and disposes all to hear the Word of God in the context of the celebration.
Copyright © 2015 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. Used with permission. All rights reserved.