Parts of the Mass: The Eucharistic Prayer (cont.)

Liturgy Lines topics at present deal with the same topics as Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s multi-part series on the Catholic Mass at and will provide parishes, RCIA groups, RE teachers and others with follow-up material for sessions using that resource.

The ‘institution narrative’ of the Eucharistic Prayer - the retelling of the scriptural account of Christ’s words and actions at the Last Supper – is followed by the Memorial Prayer which recalls the whole saving mystery of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. This is proclaimed in the people’s acclamation of the ‘Mystery of Faith’ and the priest’s words which follow. When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and the work of our redemption is carried out.
The Eucharist is the perpetuation of the sacrifice of the cross down through the ages but the Eucharist does not repeat, or add to, the unique and perfect sacrifice of Christ. As Pope Saint John Paul II, in his encyclical 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia' (EE) explains: “The Mass makes present the sacrifice of the Cross; it does not add to the sacrifice nor does it multiply it. What is repeated is its memorial celebration, its ‘commemorative representation’, which makes Christ’s one, redemptive sacrifice always present in time.” (EE #12)
The Eucharist makes present not only the mystery of the Saviour’s passion and death but also the mystery of the resurrection, the climax of his sacrifice: “It is as the living and risen One that Christ can become in the Eucharist the ‘bread of life’, the ‘living bread’.” (EE #14)
The next part of the Eucharistic Prayer is the Offering, in which the entire Church and this assembly offer themselves to God as a participation in the offering of himself which Christ makes on the cross. It is the ‘Sacrifice of Reconciliation’.
The second invocation of the Holy Spirit forms a bridge between the offering and the Intercessions that follow, asking that those gathered may become ‘one body, one spirit in Christ’. The Intercessions are for the members of the Church, living and dead, local and universal (the pope and bishop receive specific mention).
The concluding words of the Eucharistic Prayer, “Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever”, are known as the ‘Final Doxology’. This solemn statement of praise and thanksgiving has been a part of the Eucharistic Prayer since the earliest years of the Church. During the doxology, the celebrant raises the consecrated bread and cup as a gesture of offering as he sings or says the words. If a deacon is present, it is he who raises the chalice.
According to the ‘General Instruction of the Roman Missal’, “Glory to God is expressed in the doxology, to which the people’s acclamation, Amen, is an assent and conclusion.” (GIRM 2000 #79h)
It has been claimed that the Amen of the people worshipping in the basilicas of Rome resounded through the city like the rumble of thunder. Could the same be said about celebrations of Mass today?


Elizabeth Harrington