December 27th

Once we have all sung the Sanctus (or Holy, Holy, Holy) together, the congregation kneels and the priest begins the high point of the Mass: the Eucharistic Prayer.

There are several options for the Eucharistic prayer from which the priest may choose.  There are four principle ones and the General Instruction makes recommendations when each one is to be used.  The first Eucharistic Prayer is recommended for Sundays, the second for weekdays, the third for feasts and for Masses of the dead, and the fourth may be used on Sundays in Ordinary Time.  (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal # 365)

There are many other Eucharistic prayers which may be used, but regardless of which Eucharistic Prayer is chosen, there are certain “chief elements” contained in every one of them.  (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal # 79)

Towards the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest stretches out his hands over the gifts and invokes the Holy Spirit to descend upon the gifts that they may become for us the Body and Blood of Christ.

Next, there is the narrative of the institution, whereby the priest repeats the actions and words of Christ at the Last Supper.  This part of the Eucharistic Prayer is known as the consecration.  Once the priest pronounces the words of consecration over the bread and wine (“This is my body . . .”  “This is my blood . . .”) the elements of bread and wine are supernaturally and substantially changed.  After the consecration, the bread and wine are no more, only the appearances of bread and wine remain; the bread and wine have been miraculously transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

After the consecration, the priest calls to our minds the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord.  The Holy and Spotless Victim is offered to the Father and then there are a series of intercessions wherein the priest prays for the whole Church, as well as for all the living and deceased.

The Eucharistic Prayer concludes with the Final Doxology: the priest holds up the Body and Blood of the Lord and gives all glory and honor to God through Jesus Christ.  The Final Doxology concludes with the “Great Amen” which is usually sung by all the people present.

I will not write about all the Eucharistic Prayers, but over the next several articles I will try to show how all these elements come together in the First Eucharistic Prayer.

God bless,

Father White

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