With the post-Communion prayer, the Mass is essentially over. But we need some way of returning from the intensity of prayer and celebration to the ordinariness of our daily lives together. Just as at the beginning we need the Introductory Rites to get into the proper frame of mind, so we need some sort of conclusion to send us on our way. This is what the Concluding Rites provide. They consist of three things: community business, blessing, dismissal and exit.
First, the community business. While the community is gathered here, this is a good opportunity to make announcements and deal with community business. One could imagine having a sort of parish meeting here after Mass. This would be the time for various representatives of parish groups to announce forthcoming activities, ask for volunteers, make the community aware of specific needs or problems. This is obviously the place where special financial appeals should be made, not after the Gospel. It is also the place where letters from the bishop should be read unless they take the form of a commentary on the Scriptures of the day, in which case they represent a homily by the bishop. While the appropriate person to give the homily will usually be the celebrant, at this point anyone can be allowed to get up and address the community.
When all that is over, the leader of the celebration greets the people anew and invokes God’s blessing upon them as they return to their Christian lives in the larger world.
Finally, the order is given to disperse: to go forth as bearers of Christ’s peace and to be faithful to him in serving the Father in the world. To the accompaniment of a suitable hymn or a musical piece, the ministers withdraw and the gathering disbands only to meet again to renew its identity and its commitment in another week. And so the work of God continues for the redemption of his world.
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