The Mass begins with an entrance hymn, a greeting, and a brief penetential rite that includes the Kyrie eleison, the Gloria in excelsis (not always), a collect or collects, the proper epistle, an anthem and the proper Gospel (usually chanted and with all standing), and a homily on the texts. This ends the part of the Mass known in earlier times as the Mass of the Catechumens.
Mass continues with the creed (sometimes), the offertory (anthem with offering of bread and wine), offering of incense (sometimes), washing of the celebrant's hands, and proper prayers called "secrets." Then there is a chanted or spoken dialogue and proper preface of thanksgiving, ending in the Sanctus. That opens the long eucharistic prayer, or canon. It begins with prayers for the living. The consecration of the bread and wine follows; then the celebrant raises Host and chalice above his head for all to see and adore. The canon ends with prayers for the dead and a doxology, which is the solemn climax of the eucharistic prayer.
After the canon the Mass consists of the Lord's Prayer, a prayer amplifying the supplication "Deliver us from evil," the symbolic breaking of the Host and putting a piece into the cup, the kiss of peace (shared by the members of the congregation), the Agnus Dei, the communion, the ablution of vessels, the communion anthem, postcommunion prayers, the dismissal, and the blessing. There are ceremonial adjuncts such as processions, blessings, censings, and in some places, the ringing of a handbell at the consecration.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.