The liturgy closes with a dismissal hymn and the dismissal declaration. On most Sundays this hymn is typically more triumphant in nature rather than somber, for we are being sent forth to bear Christ, whom we received through the Eucharist, into the world. We do so with hope, with power, and with confidence. As the priest and altar party process out we need to understand it is not them alone who carry this message into the world, but it is the entirety of the congregation. We who have ascended to the throne room and to the heavenly altar now descend into the world from which we came, to carry the teaching that we learned at the foot of the Divine Throne and to bear the presence of Christ, whose grace we received at the altar, into world. We who have received the light of Christ are to carry the light of Christ into the darkness.
It is with this optimistic and triumphant thought in mind that they priest or deacon declares, “Let us bless the Lord! Alleluia!” and the congregation responds, “Thanks be to God! Alleluia!” It is the Lord whom we have to thank for the grace He has given us and it is God for whom we have gathered together to express our praise and worship. We have not gathered simply to have time together as a community in Christ, nor have we simply gathered together to hear a message spoken from the pulpit; rather, we have come to worship the God to whom we owe all our praise, allegiance, and thanks. As we depart from the church, therefore, we do so with declaration reminding us of our allegiance to the God with whom we communed during the liturgy.
The Mass concluded, the people are encouraged to take a moment for prayer and reflection. There are various prayers that can be prayed, but the theme of them revolves around requesting that God continue to assist us as we go through life. The Prayer of St. Michael is especially focused on this concept and reinforces the reality that we need to be continually sustained by the provisions and protections of our Almighty God. We leave this sacrament not as those who are now able to function alone, but as those whose connection to the divine has been renewed and bolstered.
(as published in St. Luke’s weekly bulletin, 10/07/18)