January 10th

As we continue our look at the first Eucharistic Prayer, we arrive now at the Epiclesis.  Epiclesis is a Greek word which means “invocation”.  At this part of the Mass the priest stretches out his hands over the gifts and invokes the Holy Spirit.  The priest calls upon the Holy Spirit to descend upon the gifts that they may be miraculously transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

The Epiclesis immediately precedes the Consecration (in the Roman rite).  The Consecration is the part of the Mass where the priest takes the bread and the wine and pronounces over them the words spoken by Our Lord at the Last Supper.  At the words of institution the bread and the wine cease to exist: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ are made truly present under the appearances of the bread and the wine.

This transformation (known as Transubstantiation) that takes place at every Mass is a great mystery, yet we know that it is true because Jesus told us that it was true.

Towards the end of the sixth chapter of Saint John’s Gospel, Jesus taught the crowds that He, Himself, was the Bread that came down from Heaven.  He taught the crowd that they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have life within them.  The crowd murmured at His teaching.  Jesus did not back down; in fact, He repeated Himself again and again.

Eventually, the crowd could bear it no more.  Many of His disciples followed Him no more.  Instead of stopping them from leaving Him, He let them go.  He then turned to the Twelve, those who had been with Him from the beginning of His ministry; those upon whom He was to build His Church.  He asked them if they would leave Him also.  Saint Peter spoke up: “Master, to whom shall we go?”  In other words: What you are saying is hard to understand but if you said it, it must be true; you have the words of everlasting life.  (cf. John 6:35-69)

Further proof of the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist comes from the Last Supper itself.  Jesus Christ is God and therefore His words are effective.  When He told the paralytic to “Get up and walk” the paralytic was healed.  (cf. Mark 2:1-12)  When Jesus told the man with the withered hand to stretch it out, the man’s withered hand was restored.  (cf. Matthew 12:13) At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread and said “This IS my body.”  What a wondrous gift: that Our God would feed us with Himself!

God bless,

Father White