February 14th

In the final part of the first Eucharistic prayer, there is a prayer in which the priest acknowledges his own sinfulness.  The priest proclaims himself a sinner and that proclamation is accompanied by an action: he strikes his breast.  The striking of the breast is a sign of acknowledging one’s own sinfulness and is also a sign of repentance.  It is an action that is taken directly from Scripture.  (Luke 18:13)

It is certainly a good thing to call to mind the fact that we are sinners in need of God’s mercy, but this might seem like a strange part of the Mass to be pointing out one’s sinfulness.  If we remember, however, Saint Peter himself had a similar reaction to Our Lord’s presence when the Lord manifested His power by enabling Peter to catch a miraculous super-abundance of fish.  At recognizing Who Jesus is, Saint Peter fell to his knees and asked the Lord to depart from him because of his own unworthiness.  (cf. Luke 5: 1-11)  The priest, in the Presence of the same Jesus Christ, acknowledges his sinfulness and instead of asking the Lord to depart, asks for forgiveness.

The priest then recalls that God gives us all good gifts, especially the gifts of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ present before him upon the altar, which God has blessed and made holy.  The priest then takes the host and the chalice and lifts them up and offers them to the Father.  While doing so he says (or sings) the “doxology.”  At the doxology, the priest prays that all honor and glory forever be to God, through Christ, with Him and in Him.

This doxology is a good reminder that the bread and wine that were presented at the offertory exist no longer.  They have been wholly and completely transformed into Christ.  That is why the priest does not pray “through it” but “through Him”.

The doxology and the “Great Amen” conclude the Eucharistic prayer.  Next week we will continue by looking at the Rite of Communion.

God bless,

Father White

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