Why We Start with the Ending

Inspired by Pope Benedict XVI, our resources examine the Mass through the lens of the dismissal, connecting Eucharist to missionary discipleship. We use the image of the catapult to emphasize how we are launched back into the world at the end of every Mass to help God on an important task.

"After the blessing, the deacon or the priest dismisses the people with the words: Ite, missa est (Go, you are sent forth). These words help us to grasp the relationship between the Mass just celebrated and the mission of Christians in the World.... The People of God might be helped to understand more clearly this essential dimension of the Church’s life, taking the dismissal as a starting point."

— Pope Benedict XVI, The Sacrament of Charity, 51

The Mass Is Named after the Dismissal

As we teach in the curriculum, the word mass comes from the old Latin word missa used at the very end of the service, when the priest says, “Go forth, the Mass is ended.” This last part of leaving is so important that we named the whole thing after it!

And this sending forth is not a tentative one. The Latin verb that missa came from was a military word that meant to “throw or hurl.” So it originally suggested that we should all be catapulted out the door at the end of Mass!

When the priest tells us it’s time to leave it can sound like, “The Mass is ended, go and rest” or “Goodbye, have a nice day.” But the original words can almost be translated: “Go, what are you standing around for? Get out of here. You are being sent forth to do something. Go do it!”

If We Get the Dismissal Rite Right, We Get It All Right!

This makes sense, because each part of the Mass prepares us to be sent (again and again) on a mission worthy of our lives. We are called to help God change the world into the way it should be.

In fact, when we examine each part of the Mass through the lens of the dismissal, we discover how it is all preparing us to be sent out again.

Our approach to teaching about Eucharist:

  • Is intuitive and easy for parents and children to understand.
  • Is meaningful and relevant, connecting with our understanding that we are called to make a difference.
  • Will renew appreciation for the beauty and wisdom of the Mass.
  • Incorporates understanding of Real Presence and how we "become what we eat" to bring Christ to the world.
  • Is a perfect way to embrace the United States Eucharistic Revival, which asks us to connect Eucharist and missionary discipleship.

Share This Approach with Your Whole Parish

Beyond this whole family curriculum, you can help all your parishioners appreciate this perspective. Greg Pierce originally developed Pope Benedict's wise insight into an entertaining, profound, and practical book titled The Mass is Never Ended: Rediscovering Our Mission to Transform the World. We offer that book with generous bulk pricing so you can share it with your entire parish.

We have also adapted it into a Teaching Mass Script that can be used during your regular Sunday worship or for a special event.

Pope Benedict photo by WDKrause. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.