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Why Priests Kiss the Altar at the Beginning of a Mass

The Roman Catholic Mass begins with the procession. Each member genuflects at the altar, and the priest and deacon kiss the altar in an act of veneration.

The Altar of Sacrifice

In Roman Catholicism, the altar is both the sacrificial table and the place where the paschal feast takes place. During the first centuries of Christianity, when the Eucharist was still illegal, Christian altars were constructed from wood and often resembled ordinary house tables. This practise continued until the Middle Ages when, in 517, the provincial council of Epeaune in France decreed that altars should be made of stone to signify “Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” of Catholicism. Venerated relics were conserved in cavities in the stone altars of newly built Basilicas, which were then placed directly above the tomb of a martyr to evoke those times during the persecutions of the church when martyrs’ tombs were utilized as places of Eucharistic celebration.
In Remembrance of Me.

The Eucharist is housed in the Tabernacle, which is present in the sanctuary. It is customary to genuflect in reverence to the Tabernacle when entering the sanctuary. According to Catholicism, Jesus Christ established the Holy Eucharist prior to his death on the cross by informing the twelve apostles to “do this in remembrance of me.” The Eucharist involves the Roman Catholic concept of Transubstantiation: the bread and wine take on the substance of Christ, maintaining their literal taste and appearance while becoming, in essence, his body and blood.

The Altar

An act of veneration, the holy kiss, or kiss of peace, occurs three times during the Mass, the first of which is at the altar. Like the cross on Calvary, where the Bible says that Jesus Christ sacrificed his life and was crucified, the altar is considered a place of sacrifice. In kissing the altar, the priest symbolizes the bond between Christ and his church; acknowledges the sacrifices of those martyrs (relics) who gave their life for the furtherance of the faith; and, when performed with the deacon, is an extension of peace to the community. The final kiss is also given at the altar to venerate the table as a symbol of Christ, as well as being the place where the faithful offer their bodies as a “living sacrifice.”

The Living Word.

The next holy kiss seals and venerates the Word after the liturgy of the Word at the Ambo. The Ambo is a lectern where the deacon carries the Gospel book. The Gospel is seen to have within it the power to transform the lives of the faithful. According to Catholicism, just as Christ became the living Word, so the faithful should seek to do the same.

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  1. how many time must we make the sign of the cross during mass and what those the sign of the cross represent in the Catholicism.

        • Relics are offered in degrees. A first degree relic would be the actual part of a saint’s body. This would be encased inside the main altar. The relic would be of the saint of whom the church was named after. Second degree would be an item touched by a saint. Third degree would be something that had touched a relic.

      • During the mass, a total of five crosses-beginning, before the gospel (3 small crosses, forehead, lips & heart), and final blessing.

      • Many times priests decide to do this after communion and before final blessing because people are seated and he has their attention. Personally, I don’t like this practice. Neither does the GIRM which provides that announcements be made before or AFTER the entire Mass. Some churches sneak them in prior to the opening song, which at least fits in the general instructions. God Bless, Deacon Rich K.

        • Announcements should be done before Mass or more essential announcement could be done following the Prayer after Communion. There is a place for them and some are of great importance. However my disagreement would be at time the list of announcements sometimes extends longer than the homily, or become a reading of the bulletin – which is totally unnescessary.

    • Two times. At the begining and At the end. Parfoisamen chez nous en Afrique, avant l’homélie, le prêtre dit “au nom du Père, du Fils et du Saint Esprit, amen” là aussi exceptionnellement on peut faire le signe croix

    • At the beginning of the Mass and the final blessing; however individuals may have different devotions of making the sign of the cross during Mass at different times. Some may be before the Communion and after etc.

    • Why do you go on a Catholic site and troll. What are you trying to acomplish? How many Catholics go on Protestant sites and chastise them?

      • Thanks! I thought the same thing. May they are preparing for the conversion of their life. We live in hope 🙂

    • WHY DO YOU SAY HOW GLAD YOU ARE THAT WE ARE WRONG? WE VENERATE CHRIST OUR LORD IS THAT WRONG? DON’T PICK AND CHOOSE PARTS OF THE BIBLE TO PROVE YOU ARE RIGHT AND WE ARE WRONG. DON’T WE ALL LOVE OUR LORD? WHY POINT DIFFERENCES INSTEAD EMBRACE THE ONE THING WE HAVE IN COMMON AND THE MOST IMPORTANCE OF ALL -LOVE OUR GOD AND EACH OTHER AS HE LOVE US.

    • What is wrong about being Catholic. If you understood what you read you would better understand Catholicism. First of all , the Liturgy of the Eucharist is older than New Testament Scriptures. The Scriptures recorded only what the early Christians had lived and practiced, including the Eucharist .

    • The book you refer to, the Bible, is also referred to as the Book of the Catholic Church. The whole New Testament was written by Catholics. The library, or collection of books, was put together in the late 4th Century as the Catholic Church put their oral tradition into written tradition. Thanks for referencing our tradition (the Bible), but please be careful not to misunderstand it or believe the lies and misperceptions that abound in offshoot, or protestant, circles.

    • If you really have Faith to God our Lord, you dont mock anything on others belief, mind on your own Faith . There is no competition on any kind of Faith to God. Just show your love to God, He is the Judge, now He judge you , a point against you, God has everyones name on His list.

  2. Jesus said “do not name anyone FATHER or MASTER on the earth”earth but why do we call the priests “FATHER” and the Pope “holy father”FATHER ?

  3. With the importance of mass celebration, a question will rise what makes a person go to paradise instead of usually going to Purgatory in the hour of our end.

  4. Having that importance of mass, a question will rise what makes a person go to Paradise, instead of going to Purgatory. Because,
    “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
    ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭9:27-28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  5. Who is the real founder of catholism? Jesus Christ, who sent by God the father. Became a man, died from the cross for our sins and resurrected from the dead. How about the founder of other religion? They’ re also a man.. Died from ailment not For our sins.. But never resurrected from the dead. see the difference???

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