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The Mass: The Liturgy of The Eucharist II

By Charles Johnston:

The Eucharistic Prayer

The Eucharistic prayer itself has several variations; Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon), Eucharistic Prayer II, Eucharistic Prayer III, and Eucharistic Prayer IV, all having their own preface. But even with this wide variety of options presented to the presiding priest, there are commonalities between all four options. For this reason, we will focus less on the words of the Eucharistic prayers themselves, and more on the common elements of the prayers.The Eucharist is described as “the source and summit of our faith,” and the liturgy of the Eucharist as “the summit of the Mass,” so then this Eucharistic Prayer is the center of the Mass.

Now the center and summit of the entire celebration begins: namely, the Eucharistic Prayer, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. The priest invites the people to lift up their hearts to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving; he unites the congregation with himself in the prayer that he addresses in the name of the entire community to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the meaning of the Prayer is that the entire congregation of the faithful should join itself with Christ in confessing the great deeds of God and in the offering of Sacrifice. The Eucharistic Prayer demands that all listen to it with reverence and in silence.

GIRM, 78

This is the pinnacle that the rest of the liturgy has wound its way up to, it is the peak of this mountain, and aptly so, because it is on this mountain top, that we will mystically be at the foot of the cross of Christ, who was crucified on the mount of Calvary.

This is also the worship that Jesus described to the Samaritan woman in John 4, when He said that “an hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” (John 4:21) Jesus envisioned His Church worshiping God in every place, and at every time, one earth. This is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Malachi, that a pure offering will be offered to the Lord from all nations,

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 1:11

And these words are echoed before the Epiclesis in Eucharistic Prayer III,

You are indeed Holy, O Lord, and all you have created rightly gives you praise, for through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, you give life to all things and make them holy, and you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.

  • Sursum Corda

While not a part of the Eucharistic Prayer itself, it not being one of the eight constituent elements that the GIRM lays out in paragraph 79, the Sursum Corda is included in the portion of the Missal that includes the Eucharistic Prayer. It is really a greeting, dialogue, and urging by the priest to prepare ourselves for this portion of the Mass.

Lift up your hearts, in English, is one of the most ancient parts of the entire Mass. The Mass is the same sacrifice of Calvary, and of the Last Supper, but it has changed in word and style over the years (the most obvious to us in this era would be the changes made during Vatican II), and yet it is the same, and retains some of its ancient prayers, this prayer is one of them. The earliest we can trace this introduction of the Eucharistic Prayer, is to Saint Hippolytus of Rome, a bishop and historian from the 2nd century. This prayer is included in all the liturgies of the Apostolic Churches (along with the Catholic Church, this includes the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches).

Extending his hands, he says: The Lord be with you.

The people reply: And with your spirit.

The Priest, raising his hands, continues: Lift up your hearts.

The people: We lift them up to the Lord.

The Priest, with hands extended, adds: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

The people: It is right and just.

What does it mean to “lift up our hearts”? Many times in the Old Testament it is said that we lift our souls and hearts to God in prayer. Several times in the Psalms, David says he lifts his soul to the Lord,

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. (Psalms 25:1)

Gladden the soul of your servant,for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. (Psalms 86:4)

We “lift up our hearts” to God, and in doing so we enter into this mystery that is about to take place. We are about to be present at the recapitulation of the sacrifice of Calvary, a bloody sacrifice that is re-presented in an un-bloody manor, in the same way that Last Supper was the same sacrificial act, but done in an un-bloody manor. Just as St John was told to “come up here,” we are about to enter into the worship of God that is described in Revelation (see also CCC 1090),

After this I looked, and behold, in heaven an open door! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”

At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne!

Revelation 4:1-3

This phrase also means to set our mind and heart on the things of God, to focus on Him, and to worship Him. We are entering into this most mystical and important phase of the liturgy, and we must lift our hearts and entire beings up from the cares of this world, and we must place them at the feet of God in Heaven. We must lift up our hearts to God, we must elevate the desires of our hearts, and we must remain in that elevated state throughout the rest of the Mass.

Saint Cyprian of Carthage, writing around AD 250, describes the meaning of this prayer,

Moreover, when we stand praying, beloved brethren, we ought to be watchful and earnest with our whole heart, intent on our prayers. Let all carnal and worldly thoughts pass away, nor let the soul at that time think on anything but the object only of its prayers. For this reason also the priest, by way of preface before his prayers, prepares the minds of the brethren by saying, “Lift up your hearts,” that so upon the people’s response, “We lift them up unto the Lord,” he may be reminded that he himself ought to think of nothing but the Lord. Let the breast be closed against the adversary, and be open to God alone…

St Cyprian Of Carthage, treatise 4, 31

He goes on to describe the Devil trying to distract us during prayer, and how this prayer is a reminder to lift our hearts to Lord and to focus our attention on the miracle that is about to happen.

The Anaphora

The Eucharist Prayer, also known as the Anaphora, has eight distinct elements. These elements are described in GIRM paragraph 79. We will look at the list, and the go deeper into each element:

  1. Thanksgiving. This is expressed mainly throughout the preface.
  2. Acclimation. In which we join with all those in heaven to sing praises to our God.
  3. Epiclesis. Here the priest prays for Holy Spirit to descend upon the gifts on the altar.
  4. Institution narrative and consecration. Through the actual words of Christ, and by the priest’s hands, the Bread and wine become the Body and blood of Jesus.
  5. Anamnesis. This element revolves around memory. We remember what Christ done fore us, as we keep His command to “do this in memory of me.”
  6. Offering. This sacrifice, of His Son, is offered to God the Father.
  7. Intersessions. We are reminded here, that this sacrifice is not just for those present, or even just for the Church of the living, but it is being offered for all people and in all times.
  8. Final Doxology. A short prayer of praise that also serves to remind us that everything, and every part of the Church revolves around Christ.

These are the elements that make up this one prayer, now we can focus on each one individually.

  • 1. The Preface

The preface to the Eucharistic Prayer is filled with thanksgiving, as the priest says “it is truly right and just, always and everywhere to give you thanks.”

The preface sets the table for the consecration to come, it lays the groundwork with thanks and praises to God. (See At all times give thanks & Colossians 3:17)

CCC 1352: The anaphora: with the Eucharistic Prayer – the prayer of thanksgiving and consecration – we come to the heart and summit of the celebration:

In the preface, the Church gives thanks to the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit, for all his works: creation, redemption, and sanctification. The whole community thus joins in the unending praise that the Church in heaven, the angels and all the saints, sing to the thrice-holy God.

  • 2. The Acclamation

As the preface comes to a close, the priest invites us to join “all the angels and saints” in their unending hymn of praise.

That turn of phrase isn’t just beautiful language, it’s not symbolic or metaphorical, we are actually joining in with the heavenly worship of all the angels and saints in heaven. Not only does this tie into the fact that the Mass is the visible earthly liturgy and a foretaste of the invisible heavenly liturgy, but also includes the Communion of Saints, and our belief that all the Church is joined as one Body of Christ that can’t be separated by death, because those in heaven are fully alive!

CCC 1090: In the earthly liturgy we share in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle. With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory

Even the words that we sing are the actual words of praise that are sung to the Lord for all eternity! Here they are, and they are beautiful:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

How do we know the lyrics to such a heavenly hymn? They are right there in scripture. The first portion comes from Isaiah’s vision of the throne room of God.

In the year that King Uzzi’ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple.

Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Isaiah 6:1-3 (emphasis added)

Saint John heard this same song being sang by the “four living creatures” around the throne of God in Revelation (Rev 4:8).

We sing these words to affirm the holiness of God, and we repeat it three times, to reverence the Holy Trinity. We also recognize that the heaven and earth are full of God’s glory (Psalms 19:1). If we don’t sing His praises, then Jesus tells us the rocks will cry out (Luke 19:40)

The second part of the Sanctus is from the words of the crowds on Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem and was hailed as the messiah. The crowds shouted these words, words that were familiar to them, they come from Psalms 118:25-26 and were part of the Hallel Psalms that were sung during the Passover meal (Psalms 113-118).

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, ” Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Matthew 21:9

These two parts that make up this prayer are sang together and make up the acclamation portion of the Eucharistic Prayer. We acclaim, with one voice, with the Church Militant (those of us on earth), the Church Triumphant (the saints and angels in Heaven), and even the Church Suffering (the Holy souls in purgatory), that God is three Holy Persons in one, and that He has come to save His people.

Hosanna means “save us,” and that is why Jesus came into the world, to save us from our sins.(Matthew 1:21)

  • 3. Epiclesis

Epiclesis is a Greek word that means “calling down from on high” and is the moment when the priest invoked the Holy Spirit to come upon the gifts on the altar.

This element of the prayer is very distinctive for two reasons; one, is that as soon as we finish singing the Sanctus, everyone but the priest kneels in reverence; and the other, is that the priest makes a motion with his hands that isn’t made anywhere else in the liturgy. In this movement. The priest joins his hands in front of him, and then lowers them together, over top of the gifts, while praying for the Holy Spirit to descend upon them.

CCC 1105: The Epiclesis (“invocation upon”) is the intercession in which the priest begs the Father to send the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, so that the offerings may become the body and blood of Christ and that the faithful by receiving them, may themselves become a living offering to God.

At this point, if the pastor of the parish has decided to use them, a bell may be rung. The bell comes from a time when churches were very large, very loud, and lacking in any kind of voice amplification. Sometimes the laity didn’t speak Latin, and were not able to hear or follow along with what was happening in the Mass, often even praying their own prayers while the priest offered the Mass. For these reasons, the altar server would ring a small bell, here, and two other places, to call attention to the central rite of the entire liturgy.

Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray

by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall,

so that they may become for us

the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

-Epiclesis, from Eucharistic Prayer II

From this point, the priest transitions directly into the words of consecration.

  • 4. Institution Narrative and Consecration

In this element of the prayer, we hear what is called “the institution narrative,” that being the very words that Christ used when He instituted the Eucharist at the very first Mass, in the upper room on Holy Thursday at the Last Supper.

Before the priest says the words of Christ, there is a short introduction (this particular version that I’m quoting is from Eucharistic Prayer II):

At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his Passion, he took bread and, giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:

The words of Institution follow immediately after this introduction. People often ask when transubstantiation takes place, Saint Thomas Aquinas said that the change is effected at the last moments of the Words of Institution,

And therefore it must be said that this change, as stated above, is wrought by Christ’s words which are spoken by the priest, so that the last instant of pronouncing the words is the first instant in which Christ’s body is in the sacrament…

Summa Theologiæ, Q.75,A.7

We know that repeating the words that Christ said at the Last Supper, that we call the Institution Narrative, have been part of the liturgy of the Church since the very beginning, because it is by these words that the Form of the sacrament is accomplished. The Council of Trent declared “Every Sacrament consists of two things, matter, which is called the element, and form, which is commonly called the word.”; in baptism it’s the Trinitarian formula of “I baptize you in the name of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” and water. In the Blessed Sacrament, the matter is bread and wine, and the form is made up by the Words of Institution.

CCC 1353: in the institution narrative, the power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all.

We get the Institution Narrative from the synoptic Gospels, and from Saint Paul’s First letter to the Corinthians. And as we’ve seen before, it’s from the moment these words are said, that the bread and wine cease to exist, only the accidents of bread and wine remain, and what is before us, in the hands of the priest, is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, of Jesus Christ.

Just like Christ’s divinity was always present in Him, even from the moment of His conception, but was invisible to the human senses- except for that one exceptional moment on the mount of transfiguration- so to is Jesus present before our eyes, even if we can’t see Him there.

When the priest says the words of Christ, in the Institution Narrative, he is acting in persona Christi, and we are to hear the words as if we are at the Last Supper, and Jesus is saying them directly to us. The reason for this is because we are, and He is! Just as the Mass is the one sacrifice of Calvary made present, it is also a re-presentation of the Last Supper.

(Anamnesis, that is the word used by Jesus in all three synoptic Gospels when telling the disciples to ‘take and eat.’ This word is translated as “remembrance” but that translation falls far short of the true meaning of the word. I’m mentioning it here to show the connection with the Last Supper, but it actually makes up one of the eight elements of the Eucharistic Prayer, and will be covered in depth in the next section.)

At this point, the priest lifts the Host from the altar slightly, and says these words:

TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT, FOR THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.

He the holds up the consecrated Host, and if the parish uses bells, one is rung during the elevation.

After a short explanation of how Christ blessed the cup, he lifts the chalice slightly as says:

TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT, FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME

In the same way that the Host was elevated, the priest now elevates the chalice that is now filled with the Precious Blood of Our Savior.

Mystery of Faith

Mystery, in the language of the Church, isn’t like an episode of a detective show, it’s not something that we can put our thinking caps on and solve. A mystery is a belief that is revealed by God, and understood by the Church, but not completely comprehended because it’s not completely comprehensible by natural means.

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

1 Timothy 3:16

Only through faith can we fully accept mysteries, and transubstantiation is the central mystery. In the eastern churches they are more content with mystery and mystical explanations of things, in the western Church we are more focused on theology in the mold of Saint Anselm, who defined theology as “faith seeking understanding.” So even though the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, they prefer to leave the “how” completely with God, instead of relying on transubstantiation as an explanation.

But the Mystery of Faith isn’t only referring to transubstantiation, it’s referring to the entire paschal mystery, the entire life of Christ, God made flesh for our redemption.

CCC 517: Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross, but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire Life…

Memorial Acclamation

There are three options here, and it is left to the discretion of the celebrating priest, but the most common one (in my personal experience) is the first one, but let’s look at all three:

1. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.

2. When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.

3. Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.

All three are brief recitations of the Gospel message. Jesus was crucified as a sin offering on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21), He was raised from the dead for our justification (Romans 4:25), He gave us His flesh to sustain us (John 6), and He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 25:31).

  • 5. Anamnesis

Therefore, O Lord,
as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion,
the Resurrection from the dead,
and the glorious Ascension into heaven
of Christ, your Son, our Lord…

Eucharistic Prayer I, Anamnesis

Here we re-encounter this word from the Words of Institution. Anamnesis, often translated as “remembrance” but it actually means something closer to “remembering by making present.”

CCC 1362: The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, the making present and the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice, in the liturgy of the Church which is his Body. In all the Eucharistic Prayers we find after the words of institution a prayer called the anamnesis or memorial.

This concept goes all the way back to the first Passover in Egypt, when God instructed Moses to make this a memorial forever,

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever.”

Exodus 12:1-2,14

Later in this chapter, God tells Moses that when the children ask what makes Passover special, the sons of Israel are to remind them of what God did for them.

You shall observe this rite as an ordinance for you and for your sons for ever. And when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt, when he slew the Egyptians but spared our houses.’ ” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.

Exodus12:24-27

This command isn’t just for the people that were alive in Egypt, because God told them to observe this holiday forever, and eventually those people would die. The question is anticipated in the future, “when your children…” but the answers are given as personal, real memory, and present reality, even for future generations that weren’t actually there.

And you shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’

Exodus 13:8

But even today, 3500 years later, if you attend a Passover Seder, you will hear children ask “why is this night different from other nights?” You will hear the father of the household proclaim it’s because of “what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.”

We hear this in the Church’s liturgy for Easter Vigil. When the deacon sings the Exsultet:

This is the night, when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children, from slavery in Egypt and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.

This is the night that with a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night that even now, throughout the world, sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices and from the gloom of sin, leading them to grace and joining them to his holy ones.

This is the night, when Christ broke the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld.

(Except from the Exsultet)

This is the essence of anamnesis. Just as the Jewish family that is celebrating the Passover are remembering and making present the events of the past, we as a Christian family are recalling and making present the events of that first Easter Vigil.

In the hundreds of times that the Old Testament uses “remember,” it most often doesn’t mean to just be nostalgic. It means to call to mind the past deeds of God and know that His actions are still working in the present.

CCC 1363: In the sense of Sacred Scripture the memorial is not merely the recollection of past events but the proclamation of the mighty works wrought by God for men. In the liturgical celebration of these events, they become in a certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to them.

By understanding the concept of Anamnesis, we can better grasp the miraculous re-presentation of the events of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary.

Christ Died Once

For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

Romans 6:9

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit;

1 Peter 3:18

One main objection against the sacrificial reality of the Mass, even since the earliest days of the Protestant reformation, is that the Church re-sacrifices Jesus at every Mass. This is not what the Church teaches, as we seen back in paragraph 1367 of the catechism, the sacrifice of the Mass, and the sacrifice of Calvary, are one in the same. It is a miracle that we have the one sacrifice of Calvary re-presented for us to witness and participate in.

In paragraph 1366, the catechism quotes the Council of Trent, and explains that Christ is not re-sacrificed at every Mass:

CCC 1366: The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit:

[Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the Last Supper “on the night when he was betrayed,” [he wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit.

This is why Anamnesis is so important. We have to understand it to know that it is the sacrifice of Good Friday that we see on the altar before us, and not our Lord dying over and over, every time we celebrate the Eucharist.

(This series isn’t about apologetics, it’s more of a catechesis on the liturgy, but I felt this an important topic to cover.)

  • 6. Offering

These words of Eucharistic Prayer I, make it very clear that the elements that just became the Body and Blood of Our Lord are sacrificial, and united with the sacrifice of Calvary,

Therefore, O Lord,
as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion,
the Resurrection from the dead,
and the glorious Ascension into heaven
of Christ, your Son, our Lord,
we, your servants and your holy people,
offer to your glorious majesty
from the gifts that you have given us,
this pure victim,
this holy victim,
this spotless victim,
the holy Bread of eternal life
and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

Be pleased to look upon these offerings
with a serene and kindly countenance,
and to accept them,
as once you were pleased to accept
the gifts of your servant Abel the just,
the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,
and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek,
a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.

The beginning of this element of the prayer is tied to the anamnesis of the last.

We’ve seen many times before, that the Mass is a sacrifice, and this is where that sacrifice is offered to God, through the hands of the priest. The priest is acting in persona Christi, that is to say he is acting in the person of Christ. Jesus offered Himself, as priest and victim, on the altar of the cross.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, takingnot the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify yourconscience from dead works to serve the living God. For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

Hebrews 9:11-14,24

It is this same sacrifice that the priest offers to God, the same sacrifice that Christ offered on our behalf. It is the blood of the New Covenant that is poured out for us. Christ our paschal lamb has been sacrificed, so that we may celebrate the new Passover from death to life (see 1 Corinthians 5:7)

  • 7. Intercessions

In the intercessions, the priest prays for the person that the Mass is being offered for, for the universal Church, for the Pope and the local bishop, and for all the clergy, and finally for all the faithful departed.

St. Paul commanded us to pray unceasingly and to pray for one another (1 Thessalonians 5:17 & Ephesians 6:18). In the intercessions, the Church prays for the whole world, and thereby keeps this commandment. Everyday, in every corner of the globe, there is a priest saying Mass, and he is praying for you. It’s mind blowing when you think of it that way.

  • 8. Final Doxology

While holding the chalice and host aloft, the priest proclaims this final doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer:

Through him, and with him, and in him,

O God, almighty Father,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

all glory and honor is yours,

for ever and ever.

The elements that he holds above the altar have already been changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, and so when he says this prayer, and is looking at the chalice of the Precious Blood and the Body of Our Lord, he is saying this prayer about that which he holds. He is holding the Body of Christ, sacrificed and broken for you, and saying that it is through this sacrifice that all glory is to the Father forever.

And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:8-11

The Great Amen

The Eucharistic prayer ends with the Great Amen. The word amen means “so be it” and we are saying amen, not just to the doxology that precede it, but to the entire Eucharistic prayer, and indeed to the whole Eucharistic liturgy.

Amen is said throughout Christian prayer, throughout the liturgy, and throughout scripture. This amen is different though, it is sung and it is repeated three times, just like the Sanctus was earlier in the prayer. This is like an exclamation point on the doxology, and an emphatic confirmation in our belief that the elements that the priest holds above the altar may have the appearance of bread and wine, but they truly have became the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

CCC 1065: Jesus Christ himself is the “Amen.” He is the definitive “Amen” of the Father’s love for us. He takes up and completes our “Amen” to the Father: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God”:

Through him, with him, in him,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

all glory and honor is yours,

almighty Father,

God, for ever and ever.

AMEN.

Amen, Amen, Amen.

(For previous installments in this series go to this link The Mass)

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