In his first Apology sent to Emperor Antonius and the Roman Senate during the early second century, St. Justin Martyr wanted to explain how the early Church celebrated Mass, trying to explain to the Roman leaders that the Christian practices were not worthy of the persecution they received.
On the day called Sunday there is a meeting in one place of those who live in cities or the country, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writing of the prophets are read as long as time permits. Then we all stand up together and offer prayers. And when we have finished the prayer, bread is brought, and wine and water; and the president similarly sends up prayers and thanksgivings to the best of his ability, and the congregation assents, saying the Amen; the distribution and reception of the consecrated elements by each one takes place and they are sent to the absent by the deacons… We all hold his common gathering on Sunday, since it is the first day, on which God transforming darkness and matter made the universe, and Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead on that same day.
We could easily use this as a rough example of the order of Mass even to this day. The Introductory Rites help those that God has gathered form a worshiping community. The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist bring Christ into our very midst. Finally, the Concluding Rites send us forth to continue God’s work.
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