From the Rector: The Lamb of God at Mass

The Lamb of God at Mass

During the breaking of the bread leading up to Communion at Mass, the Fraction Rite, the priest prays a short prayer as he places a small piece of the Consecrated Host into the chalice. While he does that we say or sing the Agnus Dei (AHG-noos DAY-ee) three times, the Lamb of God. Lamb of God is a name for Jesus that reminds us Jesus died for our sins.

The priest genuflects and then makes this proclamation and joins us in the response.

Behold the Lamb of God”. This is closer to the Latin, Ecce Agnus Dei (EH-chay AHG-noos DAY-ee), majestic in sound, this is a direct reference to John 1:29 where John the Baptist points out Jesus to his followers. The most basic description of what it means to be a Christian is that we believe Jesus Christ is both fully God, and fully Man; that he came for the sake of our salvation; and that we profess our faith in Him and accept Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  John the Baptizer is one whose entire life was dedicated to that exact program. So when the assembly repeats his words, they are proclaiming what John proclaimed, that Jesus is the Lamb of God.  The priest takes the Sacred Body of Our Lord and holds it up either over the paten or the chalice, and declares the very words of John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

Beati has been rendered “blessed.” You may be blessed even when you aren’t feeling so happy. This together with the direct reference to “the supper of the Lamb” makes clear the connection to Revelation 19:9. There, the angel in the vision has John write down the words that proclaim ‘blessed are all those called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ Our response, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed,” echoes the words of the Centurion, who asked Jesus to heal his servant in Luke 7:6-7 and Matthew 8:5-13. As we are presented with the very Body and Blood of Christ, we are called to the same, deep level of faith as the Centurion.

While the priest receives communion following the Agnus Dei, we can prepare for communion by chanting the Communion Antiphon and silently making an Act of Faith:

“Lord, I am about to receive you in the Eucharist; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

I believe this Truth because You have taught it. You who can neither deceive nor be deceived. Help me to hold to this truth, even to death.”


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