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For our Liturgical study today we are meditating on the Introit, or the entrance Psalm. This is a proper of the liturgy, or a part of the liturgy that changes either each Sunday or every Church season. The invocation and Sanctus are things that don't change, whereas the Introit, gradual, and Alleluia verse are things that change with the theme of the day or season.
The introit is a Psalm that is chanted by the Celebrant, The pastor administering the Lord's Supper, and the congregation. There is an antiphon, or a theme verse that is chanted at the beginning and the end, and the Gloria Patri, the Glory be to God the Father, is chanted with the Psalm as well. There is a question though, "Why do we do this Psalm?" Is it to fill space? Is it to get us from absolution to the kyrie without an awkward silence? Is it because the pastor wants the service to go for at least one hour so everyone gets their money's worth? Why do we do the introit?
Why do we do the introit? Well, first we have to look where the Pastor is when he absolves us. Is he standing up by the pulpit? No. Is he standing in front of the altar? No. Is he standing anywhere inside of the sanctuary or the chancel area? No. He is standing in the nave, in the area outside of the altar railing, by the baptismal font. He is standing outside of the holy place. After absolution, the pastor turns from the congregation toward the altar and begins his procession forward toward the altar to offer prayers and to distribute the gifts of the cross to all who need to be forgiven. In this procession, the pastor does not approach with his own righteousness, or with the people's blessing. He can only approach the altar of God with God's words on his lips. He can only approach to pray and distribute with words of righteousness and life flowing from his mouth. We chant the introit, with the pastor, as he approaches the altar to do the work of the ministry.
We chant the Introit because we do not approach the altar of God with our works and merit's, but with His words of grace and mercy. The pastor does not approach the altar with the treasures of the congregation, but with the sins and petitions of the congregation in order that all may be forgiven. The pastor approaches the altar as a sinner that hands over the gifts of the cross to fellow sinners. We chant the introit, the Psalms of God, in order that we may be reminded that the service is not about our works, but about God's work for us. This is the entire point of the service, that God is serving us in His grace and mercy, forgiving all of our sins. We chant the introit as the entrance psalm as the pastor enters the holy place of the sanctuary to distribute the gifts of the cross to all who need them. We see the introit then like a huge umbrella hat, words that cover the pastor, who is a sinner, in order that we may see that the one forgiving us in non other than Jesus Himself.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam be drowned anew so that you hear only the voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "You did not chose me, but I chose you," Amen.