Notre Dame Videos June, 2009 Video 2. Elements of the Eucharistic Prayer [Slide 2-1]

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1 Notre Dame Videos June, 2009 Video 2 Elements of the Eucharistic Prayer [Slide 2-1] Hello. I m Dayton, Ohio Precious Blood Sister Joyce Ann Zimmerman. This is the second quarter hour video in a series of four. During our first reflection we considered why the Eucharistic Prayer is called the Great Thanksgiving, and briefly talked about the origin of the ten approved Eucharistic Prayers. In this session we delve into the many different elements that make up the Eucharistic Prayer. Of course, it s always dangerous to dissect something that is supposed to be a whole, a unity. While the Eucharistic Prayer consists of quite a few very different elements, it still remains a seamless whole, a single prayer. We re not praying a bunch of prayers, but a single prayer of thanksgiving. So, with this caution about one prayer in mind, let us look at the prayer piece by piece. First, an overview. There are three acclamations which punctuate the prayer. I use the word punctuate purposely. These acclamations are to be sung or said with full voice. They come at distinct places in the prayer and these acclamations are our way to give public voice to our participation in the prayer. The first acclamation is the Holy, Holy, Holy or the Sanctus, and it gives us an opportunity to acclaim what is prayed during the preface with its opening dialogue about the first third of the prayer. The next acclamation is called the Eucharistic or memorial acclamation; for example, Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life, and so on. We sing or say this acclamation there are four approved texts for it after the words of consecration and elevations of the consecrated bread and cup of consecrated wine. This acclamation, then, comes at the end of the middle part of the prayer. And, finally, at the very end of the prayer we sing or say our great amen, not only to conclude the final part of the prayer, but to put a final punctuation to the whole prayer. Now let us turn to the various particular elements of the prayer. [Slide 2-2] In this session we simply and only briefly describe all the elements. I ll go into much more detail about some of them in the next two videos. A beginning point to make is that this list of elements is how they generally occur in our ten Eucharistic Prayers. Not each prayer has each element, nor does each prayer devote the same number of words to any given element. Also, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal in paragraph no. 79 gives a slightly less detailed list, with eight elements listed instead of the thirteen I give here. Our intent is not to focus on a list, but to come to a greater understanding of the prayer. Preface dialogue This is the exchange we considered above: The Lord be with you. And with your Spirit. Lift up your hearts, and so on. This is one of the most ancient elements of the prayer and is found in one form or another in all the known

2 Eucharistic Prayers. Since it includes the explicit mention of thanks, it sets a tone for the nature of the whole prayer. Preface This is badly named for us folks who speak English! Preface usually means something at the beginning of a book, appended to it, and usually considered not so important; we often skip reading it. This is definitely not true for the preface of the Eucharistic Prayer. Its Latin meaning is similar to how we use the word in everyday use literally, a saying beforehand. Similar to a book preface, this first part of the Eucharistic Prayer does say something about the subject and scope of the whole prayer. Unlike a book where the preface is not part of the book proper, the preface at Mass is an integral part of the Eucharistic Prayer. It recalls sometimes in splendid detail the motives for giving God thanks. Holy, Holy, Holy In Latin this is called the Sanctus, and it is the first of three Eucharistic acclamations, as we mentioned earlier. The first part of the Sanctus comes from the Old Testament account of the call of the prophet Isaiah (chapter 6 in the book of Isaiah); it is the song of the angels praising God and announcing God s holy presence. The second part ( Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosannah in the highest! ) is from Matt 21:9, the words of the crowd that greeted Jesus at his triumphal entry into Jerusalem what we sing and celebrate on Palm Sunday. Post-Sanctus prayer This next part of the Eucharistic Prayer is a kind of bridge between the preface and the institution narrative. It usually tells of God s holiness or brings to mind the fullness of life we share. It also includes the epiclesis over the gifts. Epiclesis over the gifts An epiclesis is an invocation of the Holy Spirit. In the epiclesis over the gifts we ask the Holy Spirit to come upon these gifts and make them holy, so that they may become for us the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ (to use the words of our present Eucharistic Prayer II). Notice what I just prayed it is the action of the Holy Spirit which transforms the bread and wine truly into the Body and Blood of our Lord. The transformation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is the work of the Spirit of God and is

3 God s gift to us. We pray; we ask; God does. Institution Narrative These are the words of Jesus, slightly adapted from what the gospels have him saying at the Last Supper. As the title says, it is a narrative that is, it tells the story of what Jesus gave to his disciples at the Last Supper and then commanded them (and us) to Do this in memory of me. Here is where we also hear (using the same words in all the prayers) what we have traditionally in the Western Church called the words of consecration This is my Body. This is the cup of my Blood. The institution narrative does far more than call to mind the Last Supper we are not going backwards in time. It makes present here and now what the assembly is actually doing. It is a visible action of obedience to Jesus command to do this in his memory. Memorial Acclamation The second of the three acclamations of the Eucharistic Prayer, the memorial acclamation (sometimes also called the Eucharistic acclamation) is introduced by the priest with the words, Let us proclaim the mystery of faith. In each of the four approved memorial acclamations, we acclaim that our salvation has been won by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We acclaim Jesus death and resurrection; in three of the four we utter our hope that the Lord Jesus will come again in glory, as he promised before he ascended into heaven.

4 Anamnesis Here we have another Greek term and it means to remember. This doesn t mean that we recall a past event, like at a birthday we recall the beginning of someone s life. Rather, we are actually doing in the here and now what we are calling to mind. The past even is truly present and effective now. Our remembering is an active making present. We remember what we have just acclaimed Christ s paschal mystery. It is call the mystery of our faith because, as Christians, our religious belief and destiny is centered on Christ s saving deeds for us. The mystery of faith is God s amazing love for humankind and all of creation, made visible in the incarnate Son who was utterly faithful to his Father s will, accepted suffering and death so that death could be conquered, and rose to new life that is shared with us through the gift of the Spirit. Offering This is the first time offering language comes up in the prayer almost at the very end of the prayer! Here is where we explicitly state that we offer this sacrifice the gift of the Son for us to God. Christ is both priest and victim; he is both gift and offering. More on this in a later video, but it is also good to mention here that the presentation of the gifts and preparation of the altar and gifts what we used to call the offertory is no longer called offertory to help us realize that the offering really takes place in the third part of the Eucharistic Prayer. Epiclesis over the people Just as there is an epiclesis over the gifts asking the Holy Spirit to change them into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, there is an epiclesis over the people asking the Holy Spirit to make us one in Christ and more holy. This second epiclesis can easily be missed, because it does not have the same gesture accompanying it. At the epiclesis over the gifts before the institution narrative, the priest extends his hands over the gifts as he calls down the Holy Spirit to sanctify them. This gesture is not called for in the epiclesis over the people, so unless we are listening closely to what the priest prays, we can miss that we are also asking the Holy Spirit to come upon us, transform us, make us one in the Body of Christ. Intercessions Since the prayer of the faithful which concludes the Liturgy of the Word has been added to the renewed liturgy, we may be surprised that there are intercessions within the Eucharistic Prayer itself. In fact, almost the entire Eucharistic Prayer I is intercessory in nature. Sometimes these intercessions include names of saints; we pray for both the living and the dead; we pray for our needs. These intercessions remind us that our union with God never removes us

5 from the world, its brokenness, and the need for redemption. The intercessions remind us that there is still much work to be done in accomplishing the salvation God offers us in Christ. Doxology A doxology is a short hymn of praise. It comes from the Greek word for glory, doxa. We conclude our Eucharistic Prayer as we began it with praise to the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit. This doxology through him and with him and in him reminds us that always our Christian prayer is through Christ. He is our greatest intercessor with the Father because Christ shared with us our human nature. He knows our needs because he lived among us and experienced those needs. We are confident in our intercessory prayer because we have such a faithful mediator Christ who has shown over and over how much he cares for us and loves us. This Christ brings our hearts to the Father. During the doxology the priest lifts up the consecrated bread and the deacon or priest lifts up the cup with consecrated wine so the people can see a gesture of offering. Joined with the act of offering that we have just prayed, this gesture is a reminder that these gifts are for us, but also change us so that we can unite ourselves more perfectly with Christ in giving ourselves over to the Father. Great Amen The assembly has the last word of the Eucharistic Prayer, and it should be sung (or said) with great hardiness and heartiness. This acclamation is truly our grand punctuation mark, our grand period! Amen is our YES! our So be it! It is a faith utterance that all we have prayed comes from our hearts with gratitude. It is an acknowledgment that we have opened ourselves to God s transforming action during this Great Thanksgiving and we accept, approve, and acclaim what God had done in us and for us. And how can we not shout AMEN at the end of this great recital this great story, this awesome remembering of all God s mighty deeds accomplished for our salvation, of the transformation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, at the transformation of ourselves into being more unified and holy members of the Body of Christ. Yes, definitely, AMEN! So be it! Once again, let s take just a bit of time to reflect on what we ve talked about. [Slide 2-3] The element of the Eucharistic Prayer that speaks to me best is... that intrigues me most is... I find it easiest to enter into the dynamic flow of the Eucharistic Prayer when I... the hardest when...

6 My Amen at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer is heartiest when...

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