Four or five times per year at Mass, the choir will sing something called a sequence, or the sequence. Sequences are
sung during Memorial Masses. This Sunday is a holyday of obligation called The Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi. You will hear The Sequence sung at Mass. This song is a psalm or made up of parts of many psalms. I hope you have a chance to read this reflection before you hear the Sequence sung at Mass. If you read this reflection first, then pay close attention to what the Sequence is saying.

The Sequence begins by describing how the manna is sent from heaven during the time when the Israelites, while wandering in the desert for forty years, were starving during a drought. Manna was a form of leavened bread. The second paragraph
mentions Isaac, the son of Abraham who was about to be sacrificed by Abraham upon God’s command. Isaac would be the
Paschal lamb. The third paragraph speaks of Jesus as the good shepherd who loves us, refreshes us and defends us.

The fourth paragraph of the Sequence skips back to describe more food and heavenly feasts with heavenly saints. It’s all
very confusing, how the Sequence jumps around a bit. But, the purpose of the Sequence is to introduce the Gospel much
like the Alleluia Verse does, but in a much more formal Gregorian Chant-style. It goes back to the thirteenth century. The origin of the Sequence is not known. After Vatican II the Sequence has been included as mandatory at some Masses and optional at other Masses.

For me, the sung Sequence allows me to open my heart to hear the word of God and apply it to my life. The Sequence’s
message is timeless and mirrors the prayer that all deacons say (to themselves) as they approach the altar. Before proclaiming the Gospel, the deacon asks the priest for a blessing. The blessing is not heard by the congregation, but at the risk of violating my top secret clearance at the church, I’m going to tell you what’s said anyways. The priest says “May the Lord be in your heart and on your lips, that you may proclaim his Gospel worthily and well, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Then when the deacon picks up the Book of the Gospels, he prays silently “Cleanse my heart and my lips, almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim your holy Gospel.”

I mention these silent prayers because they have the same affect that the Sequence hymn/prayer should have on us… prior to hearing the Gospel, we are asking God to open our heart and be on our lips as well, so that we can talk openly about the
Gospel message. In the Sequence we are also asking God to cleanse our hearts and lips so that we too can worthily proclaim his praise in everything that we do.

By Deacon Mike McDonald