THE MASS AS THE BEGINNING OF HEAVEN ON EARTH - PART VI
EUCHARISTIC PRAYER, COMMUNION, AND THE CONCLUDING RITES
I. The Eucharistic Prayer, or anaphora, is the summit of the Mass and in fact of the whole of Catholic life. Catechism 1352, 1407. Anaphora is a Greek term meaning an offering and lifting up of gifts to heaven.
The Eucharistic Prayer is introduced with a Preface in which we, in
the company of the angels and saints praise and give thanks to God through
the Son and in the Holy Spirit for creation, redemption, and sanctification
. The main Eucharistic Prayer then consists of four essential
elements: (1) an epiclesis, or invocation, in which we ask God to send
the Holy Spirit; (2) the institution narrative which describes the Last
Supper and especially Jesus' consecration of the Eucharist at that time;
(3) an anemnesis, which recounts the saving work Jesus as presents this
offering back to the Father; and (4) intercessions. It then always
ends with the doxology "Through Him, with Him, in Him, all glory and
honor is Yours, almighty Father, forever and ever" and the great Amen,
confirming our faith in the entire action just expressed.
B. These elements reflect Jesus' words at the Last Supper.
At the Last Supper, Jesus He promised to send the Spirit to continue
His saving work, see John 14:26, 15:26, 16:13-14. The epiclesis
reflects this sending of the Spirit, as well as the fact that the Spirit
came upon Mary at the Incarnation.
The center of the Last Supper was the institution of the Eucharist,
during which Jesus said over the bread and wine, "This is My body"
and "This is My blood." See Matt.26:26-29; Mark. 14:22-25;
Luke 22:15-20, 1 Cor. 11:23-25. The institution narrative reflects
this glorious event. With the epiclesis, it is the words of the
institution narrative makes Jesus present in what was bread and wine.
Jesus also recalled at the Last Supper His own mission and the glory
God gave Him through it, John 17:1-7. Being a Passover meal, the
Last Supper would have begun with a recounting of God's favor to Israel.
The anamnesis reflects this recounting.
Jesus also offered intercessions for His Apostles and all who would
believe through them. See John 17:9-26. The intercessions
of the Eucharistic Prayers continue these intercessions in the high
point of the Mass.
The structure of the Preface and the Eucharistic Prayer also reflects
the glorious ceremony of the divine presence coming down to the Temple
at the Dedication by Solomon. For in that case, there was: (1)
a joyful prayer of thanksgiving, 2 Chron. 5:12-13; (2) a request that
God send forth His presence to the people, 2 Chron. 6:41-42; (3) a recollection
of the command and promise God gave to King David to build a temple
in which God would be present among them, 2 Chron. 6:1-10; (4) a recollection
of God's saving work and promises especially to David regarding the
Temple itself, 2 Chron. 6:10-12, 15-17; and (5) intercessions that God
assist His people and in fact all nations in doing His will and thus
giving Him glory, 2 Chron. 6:18-40.
All of the Eucharistic Prayers include in their intercessions both prayers
for the dead and prayers that we join the saints and angels and an eschatological
ending focusing on the return of Christ in glory.
II. The Preface is a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for the glory of God and His saving work.
A. It begins "The Lord be with you," reflecting in part the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation when the Son of God was about to come into the world for the first time. It also a common way in which St. Paul ended his letters. See 1 Thess. 5:27, 2 Thess. 3:18; 1 Tim. 6:21; 2 Tim. 4:22; Phil 25; see also Catechism 367.
As with the beginning of Mass, the response will change to "and also
with your spirit." As before, this phrasing more accurately
reflects the Latin. The term spirit here may refer either to the
spirit as the deepest part of the soul, or the spirit of holy power
sent upon the ordained minister upon his ordination. See, e.g.,
Gal. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Tim.1:6, 4:22; Philemon 25.
B. The phrase "lift up your hearts" and the response "we lift them up to the Lord" reflects both the idea of lifting up hands and voices in joyous praise of God, see, e.g., Ps. 63:4, 134:2, 143:8, and the idea that the heart is at the core of our worship and service of God, see, e.g., Jer. 31:33, Rom. 2:15, 2 Cor. 3:3; Heb. 8:10, 10:16; Catechism 368.
psalms and the Book of Lamentations also refer to lifting up one's soul
in the context of a passionate plea for assistance in time of trouble.
See Ps. 25:1, 86:4; Lam. 3:43; see also. Ps. 28:2
This response will not change with the new translation, although the
Latin phrase is more along the lines of: (1) The priest saying "Lifting
up hearts"; and (2) the people responding, "We hold them up to the
Lord." The Vatican and liturgy committees decided that it was
clumsy in English to divide a sentence in half.
C. The phrase "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God" and the current response "It is right to give Him thanks and praise" reflects the idea of thanking God and praising Him for His works, preparing ourselves again for His blessings. It is natural to praise God, and all cultures throughout time and space have had a notion of this virtue of religion. See St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica Part II-II, question 81, art. 1-5.
The response in the new translation will be simply, "It is right and
just." That translation is more consistent with the Latin.
The terms right and just seem like the same thing, but in the Latin
the words "iustus et dignus" imply: (1) rendering what is due (iustus,
the basis for just): and (2) being worthy of praise or reward (dignus.)
The implication is that our prayer becomes worthy when we give God proper
D. The preface current begins with "Father, all-powerful and every-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give You thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord" or some close variation of these words. The new translation will begin "It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere, to give thanks, most Holy Father through Your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." That translation is closer to the Latin and more majestic and formal.
- This acclamation reflects the importance of thanksgiving to God because
of the inherent fittingness of doing so and because this thanksgiving
in turn opens us to more blessings. See, e.g., Luke 17:11-19;
Col. 3:12-17; Tobit 12:6. The term Eucharist is derived from the
Greek term for thanksgiving, reflecting the fact that the accounts of
the first Eucharist, as well as those of the multiplication of loaves,
consistently say that Jesus blessed the food and gave God thanks.
See Matt.26:27; Mark. 14:23; Luke 22:17, 1 Cor. 11:24. This idea
of giving thanks to God because of His saving works and His presence
also reflects the prayer of praise and thanksgiving sung by the priests
when the Ark of the Covenant came to Jerusalem, upon the beginning of
the Messianic reign as prophesied by Isaiah, and by Mary and Zechariah
in their celebration of the conception of Jesus and the birth of John
the Baptist. See 1 Chron. 16:8-30; Ps. 105; Isaiah 12:2-6; Luke
1:46-66, 68-79. The elders in heaven also sing a hymn of thanks
before the ark of the covenant is opened. Rev. 11:17-18.
The preface ends with a call for the angels and often the saints to
join us in singing God's praises.
F. The Sanctus then reflects both the song that angels and saints sing to God in heaven and the joyous proclamation of the people as Jesus entered into Jerusalem just before His passion, death and resurrection.
- Isaiah and Revelation both record the angels in heaven singing "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of power and might." Is. 6:3; Rev. 4:8. Isaiah records them adding "all the earth is filled with Your glory" and God's glory filling the temple in heaven.
Jesus entered into Jerusalem the people acclaimed "Hosanna in the
highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the
Lord. Hosanna in the highest." Matt. 21:9, Mark 11:9-10;
Luke 19:38; John 12:13. This acclamation reflects Psalm 118, a
classic psalm of thanksgiving which praises God for His saving work.
As Jesus cleansed the Temple before His sacrifice, we ask that He cleanse
our hearts in preparation for receiving Him and experiencing the re-presentation
of His death and Resurrection
III. In the Epiclesis, the priest then asks God the send the Holy Spirit upon the gifts to make them acceptable to Him so that they may become the body and blood of Jesus.
The idea of invoking the Holy Spirit is in part that the Holy Spirit
came upon Mary at the Incarnation. Luke 1:35.
In the Old Testament, God would send fire upon a sacrifice to indicate
that it was acceptable to God. See, e.g., Lev. 9:24; Judges 6:21;
1 Chron. 21:26; 2 Chron. 7:1; 1 Kings 18:38. In the New Testament, fire
would become a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:3. Fire
was also a symbol of the presence of God. See Ex. 3:1-3; 19:18
. When he hid the Ark of the Covenant, Jeremiah prophesied that
God would again send His presence upon sacrifices acceptable to him.
2 Macc. 2:1-8.
IV. The precise phrasing the institution narratives varies among the Eucharistic Prayers, but they all refer to the fact that it was the night before Jesus' sacrifice on Calvary and to Jesus giving thanks and praise (gratias). They all use the same words in describing what Jesus said. This description of Jesus' words at the Last Supper combines elements of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as 1 Corinthians.
A. The words "Take this, all of you and eat it" are closest to translation used in the Gospel according to Matthew. (Jesus would presumably have spoken in Hebrew or Aramaic, while the Gospels were written in Greek.) Matthew uses the words "all of you" in describing the consecration of the wine; the implication is that Jesus spoke these words also over the bread. The phrase "which will be given up for you" are from the Gospel according to Luke, with similar words in 1 Corinthians.
- The words said
over the bread will not change with the new translation.
Lifting up the chalice, the priest begins, "Take this all of you and
drink from it," Jesus' words as recorded from the Gospel according
2. The priest then current says, "This is the cup of My blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant." The new translation will be similar, but refer to the chalice, rather than cup, and to the eternal covenant, rather than everlasting covenant.
The description of the cup of His blood as "the new and eternal covenant"
is basically in all of the accounts. The description of the covenant
as new is in the Gospel according to Luke and 1 Corinthians. The
description of the covenant as everlasting indicates that this covenant,
while new, fulfills the ancient promises of a covenant that would continue
until the end of time. See, e.g., 1 Chron. 16:17; Ps. 105:10;
Ezek. 16:60, 37:26; Heb. 13:20. The idea is that the time of the
old covenant with Israel has ended, or rather, been fulfilled, by the
sacrifice of Jesus, in which we share through the Eucharist.
3. The priest then currently says, "It will be shed for all so that sins may be forgiven." In a significant change, the new translation will read, "which will be poured out for you and for man, for the forgiveness of sins."
V. After the institution narrative, there is the acclamation of faith, which summarizes the anamnesis, the recounting of the saving events of Christ's passion, death, and resurrection.
A. The acclamation of faith was added to this Eucharistic Prayer apparently because of the personal efforts of Pope Paul VI, who in most other respects let the liturgists make the changes. Before this time, the priest prayed the Eucharistic Prayers from beginning to end without a break.
Part of the idea is that Pope Paul VI wanted the people to join in the
phrase, which ends each part of the institution narrative, "Do this
in memory of me" by personally proclaiming their faith in the saving
events. See 1 Cor. 11:26. Even before that time, when hearing
the recounting of the saving events, the people were meant to assent
in faith. The only difference is that now this acclamation is
vocal and together as a congregation.
C. The acclamation currently begins with the priest saying, "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith." With the new translation, the priest will simply say, "The mystery of faith."
A mystery in the Scriptural sense of the term, is something that can
be understood partially, and is frequently described in a symbolic way
(e.g., by parables and visions) because a more text-like description
is impossible for human language. See, e.g., Dan. 2; Matt. 13:10-11;
Eph. 5:32; Rev. 17.
One needs faith, the grace of God, and cooperation to peer more fully
into the mysteries. Eph. 3:1-13; Col. 1:24-29. Jesus reveals
the mystery of God's love, which is beyond all description in Himself
and in His life, death, resurrection and continued saving grace.
See 1 Cor. 2:1; Eph 1:7-9.
The Mass likewise reveals the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection
and continued presence among us under symbolic form until we, with a
risen body and purified intelligence are able to perceive Him face to
face. See 1 Cor. 13:9-13; 1 John 3:1-3.
D. There are three forms of the acclamation of faith in Latin, and four in English. The fourth acclamation in English, which has no Latin equivalent, will not be in place with the new translation.
Currently, the first option for the acclamation is "Dying You destroyed
our death; rising You restored our life. Lord Jesus come in glory."
This acclamation combines an idea of Jesus' sacrifice as taking on death
and overcoming it, see 1 Cor. 15:12-28; Heb 2:14-15, and a desire to
join with the final life with Jesus when He returns to restore all things.
1 Cor. 15:26, Rev. 22:20 However, this version is only the rough equivalent
of the first option in Latin. The new first option will be faithful
to the Latin and read, "We proclaim Your death, O Lord, and profess
Your resurrection until You come again." This response reflects
the instruction of St. Paul that receiving the Eucharist is proclaiming
the death and resurrection of Jesus. See 1 Cor. 11:26.
2. The second is "When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim Your death Lord Jesus until You come in glory." This response is likewise taken straight from St. Paul's instructions regarding the Eucharist. See 1 Cor. 11:26.
The new translation will slightly altar to words to say "O Lord,"
rather than "Lord Jesus" and say "until You come again" instead
of "until You come in glory." The meaning is the same,
but the new words are more faithful to the Latin
3. The third response is, "Lord, by Your cross and resurrection You have set us free. You are the Savior of the world." The idea is that, by Christ, we have been set free from sin and corruption. See John 8:32-38, Rom. 8:2, 28-29; Gal. 5:1; Rev. 1:4-6.
The new translation will altar the word order, while expressing the
same meaning. It will read, "Save us, Savior of the world, for
by Your Cross and Resurrection, You have set us free." This
version makes the acclamation more of a prayer as well.
The fourth response (not in the Latin) is "Christ has died; Christ
has risen; Christ will come again." This acclamation is a brief
description of the whole of the Christian faith and of the idea that,
in the Mass we witness the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ,
the continuing presence of the risen Christ, and the anticipation of
Jesus returning in glory. See, e.g., 1 Cor. 15:1-5, 20-28; Phil
2:6-11; Rev. 1:17-19. However, because it is not in the Latin,
and in fact is more of a statement than a prayer, it will not be included
in the new translation.
VI. There are four main options for the Eucharistic Prayers. There are also two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation, three for Masses where the majority of the congregation are children (those before about the age of thirteen) and Eucharistic Prayers for Special Needs and Intentions.
Eucharistic Prayer I is commonly known as the Roman Canon because it
was the Eucharistic Prayer used in Rome from the mid-4th century, with
some elements, especially the Institution narrative, going back to the
first century, and other elements added by St. Gregory the Great in
the late sixth century as well as others. It was used in almost all
of the Latin Rite diocesan churches from about 1100 until 1969, when
Eucharistic Prayers II, II, and IV were permitted. The reforms
of the Council of Trent in the 16th century made it universal in Latin
rite diocesan churches. Drawing heavily from the Gospels according
to Matthew and John, it emphasizes the Eucharist as fulfilling the Old
Testament, and especially the idea of sacrifice, the Church as the beginning
of the Messianic Kingdom, and the communion of saints.
Eucharistic Prayer II is based upon the elements of a Eucharistic Prayer
either composed or recorded by St. Hippolitus around 215. Its
style is blunt and to the point. Reflecting Marcan style and Pauline
theology, it emphasizes God's grace and especially Jesus' sacrifice
making us holy and worthy of His presence.
Eucharistic Prayer III draws heavily from the Eastern rites, especially
the Byzentine and Maronite rites (the former based upon the patriarchy
of Constantinople, and the latter having developed in Lebanon.)
It emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit in drawing together the people
of God and making us worthy and able to worship God.
Eucharistic Prayer IV is based roughly upon the eastern anaphora of
Antioch. Its preface and anemnesis are a summary of salvation
history. Like Eucharistic Prayer III, it emphasizes the Church
as the people of God, but also includes specific intercessions for those
who seek God "with a sincere heart" and the dead "whose faith
is known to [God] alone." This Eucharistic Prayer has a fixed
preface, and thus cannot be used with any other preface. As a
result, it cannot be used when another preface is required (e.g., solemnities,
many feasts, and about half of the Sundays.)
E. The Eucharistic Prayers of Reconciliation were composed for the Holy Years 1974-1975, but permission to use them for penitential occasions was extended at first for a limited time, and then indefinitely. These anaphoras emphasize both themes of God's forgiveness of our sins, and our own need to reconcile with others. They also both expressly call for the Holy Spirit to come upon the people present. Like Eucharistic Prayer IV, they also have fixed prefaces.
The First Eucharistic Prayer of Reconciliation has many connections
to Eucharistic Prayer IV and draws heavily upon the themes of covenant,
family and return from exile, both literal and figurative.
The second Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation emphasizes people's
natural desire for peace and friendship and builds upon it by describing
how, only in Christ and only with the Holy Spirit, can that desire be
VII. The Our Father prepares us for communion with the ideal prayer that Jesus taught us.
A. The priest introduces the Our Father with one of the options listed. Currently, there are three options in Latin, four in the English translation. The new translation will have one option, although the US bishops have asked that the other options be made available/
The first English option ("Let us pray with confidence to the Father
in the words our Savior taught us") and the first two Latin options
emphasize the fact that the Our Father was given to us by Christ Himself.
See Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4. The Latin options can be translated:
(1) "Instructed by saving decree, and formed by divine institution,
we dare to say"; and (2) "And now let all offer together the prayer
the Lord Christ taught us." The first Latin option also emphasizes
the face that, when we adhere to the law of God, we have more courage
to approach God. See John 15:8-17; 1 John 3:19-24; Ps. 15.
The new translation will have one option, "At the Savior's command
and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say." As with the
first option in Latin, it emphasizes the fact that, precisely when we
are formed by God's commands, we are more free to approach Him.
3. The other three options in English are not in the general translation. However, the US bishops have asked for an adaptation so that they can still be used.
The second English option reads, "Jesus taught us to call God our
Father, and so we dare to say," This option, which has some
similarity to the first Latin option, emphasizes the point that we are
adopted sons and daughters of God through Jesus, a point frequently
emphasized by St. Paul and St. John. See, e.g., John 1:12; Rom.
5:18; Eph. 2:19-20; Gal. 3:26, 4:4-7; 1 John 4:7-9, 5:1-5
The third option in English (which no Latin equivalent), reads "Let
us ask our Father to forgive our sins, and bring us to forgive those
who sin against us." This option focuses on the petition from
the Our Father, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against
us." See Matt 18:21-45. It brings out the fact that we
need God's help even to forgive others.
The last option in English reflects the third option in Latin and reads,
"Let us pray for the coming of the kingdom as Jesus taught us."
It emphasizes the second petition of the Our Father, "Thy kingdom
come" as well as the end of the Book of Revelation, "Come, Lord
Jesus." There is both the desire that the kingdom be more present
on earth and the desire for the fulfillment of all things at the end
of earthly history. See Catechism 2816-2818. The Mass is
the kingdom of God coming into the world, in anticipation of the world's
B. The Our Father in the fullest form is listed in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew. Matt. 6:9-13. A shorter version is in the midst of Jesus' teachings on prayer and good works, as recorded in the Gospel according to Luke. See Luke 11:2-4.
As described in the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus gives the prayer
in the midst of His discourse on sincere almsgiving, prayer, and fasting.
That portion of the Sermon focuses especially on simplicity in prayer
and of forgiveness. Throughout the entire Sermon, there is an
emphasis on "your Father" or "your heavenly Father" drawing
His faithful along and rewarding them. There is a special emphasis
in the Beatitudes on the peacemakers being called children of God.
The prayer itself is in the plural form, emphasizing that we pray together
as a Church, and that our adopted sonship in God is in the context of
the Church. Only Jesus can rightfully pray, "My Father."
See Matt 7:21, 26:42.
The prayer has seven petitions. The first three deal with God's
name, His kingdom, and His will. The last three deal with deliverance
from the sin, temptation, and evil of this world. And the middle
petition is "Give us this day our daily bread," which connects the
purity and holiness of God to this realm where we need His protection.
The beginning of the Our Father both recognizes the relationship God
has with us as a loving Father, but also the distance between heaven
and earth. The Sermon on the Mount emphasizes that we must try
to imitate the ways of the Father in heaven and rely on Him, thus connecting
heaven and earth, as the Eucharist above all does. See Matt. 5:16,
46, 48; 6:14, 26, 32, 7:11. In the Old Testament, God was known
as Father to the nation of Israel and to the king, see, e.g., Duet.
32:6; Jer. 31:9; Hos. 11:1; Mal. 2:10; 2 Sam. 7:14, but this prayer,
and the life of Jesus generally emphasize His person fatherly concern
for all people.
The first petition is that the name of God be hallowed, or made holy
in our reverence. Part of the idea is that, through the holiness
given to God's name, through which we approach Him, holiness in conferred
upon the whole world. At the beginning of the freedom of the Chosen
People God revealed His name to Moses. See Ex. 3:14-16.
Thus, the psalmist and many others sing to the glory of God's name,
see, e.g., Tobit 11:14, Judith 16:1; Isaiah 12:4; Dan. 2:20, Ps. 9:3,
92:2; 135:1, 149:3. The name of God, and especially the name of
Jesus in very powerful in saving history, see, e.g., Ps. 33:21, 124:8,
Prov. 18:10; Joel 3:5; Mark 16:17, John 16:23-24, Acts 2:21, 3:16.
Thus, a failure to reverence His name indicates a weak or no faith,
and is punished by God. See Ex. 20:7, Rev. 13:1-10.
The glory of God's name is one reason for the salvation of Israel.
See Is. 52:5, Ez. 36:20-23. And so, for each of the faithful,
the glory of Jesus' name gives great glory and power. See John 14:13
We ask that God's kingdom come, partially in the sense of awaiting His
kingdom coming at the end of all things, but also asking that His kingdom
on earth increase through our faith, and especially as breaking through
at every Mass. For Jesus drinks the chalice anew in the kingdom,
see Matt. 26:29. And He promises that His disciples will eat with
Him in His kingdom. See Matt. 22:1-14. The kingdom of God
is in part present already. See Matt. 4:17, Mark 1:15; Luke 11:20,
16:16, 17:21. But, especially as indicated in the parables of
the kingdom and in the Book of Revelation, the final kingdom will come
at the end of all things. Mat 22:2; 25; Acts 1:6; Rev. 21-22.
Meanwhile, God's faithful are meant to increase the glory of His kingdom
and live by its precepts, bringing the kingdom more to earth.
And, as indicated by the Book of Revelation, the kingdom breaks through
in the prayers of the faithful and especially at every Mass, the first
promise of the everlasting banquet. See, e.g., Rev. 4:8-11, 5:6-14,
The prayer "Thy will be done" is particularly poignant, given the
fact that in the agony in the Garden, Jesus prayed that prayer again.
See Matt. 26:42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42. In the encounter with
the Samaritan woman, Jesus even says that doing the will of His Father
is His food. John 4:34. In the Bread of Life discourse,
He connects His saving power to His loyalty to the divine will.
See John 6:35-40.
The prayer for "our daily bread" could have four meanings according
to how the Greek word for "daily" (epiousios) is translated.
It could mean: (1) bread which sustains us; (2) bread which comes down
from the one who sustains us; (3) bread for today; or (4) bread for
tomorrow. All of these meanings converge with the analogy
to the manna in the desert, which the Israelites received day by day,
except for the day before the Sabbath, when they received two days'
worth so that they would not have to work on the Sabbath. See
Ex. 16. Part of the idea was to keep them trusting in God, rather
than their wealth. Jesus would take up this image of manna in
describing Himself as the bread of life. See John 6:32-33, 49-50.
We ask God to forgive our sins, recognizing our need to forgive others.
The connection between the receiving and conferring forgiveness is a
frequent theme of Jesus' preaching. See Matt 5:7; 6:14-15, 18:21-35;
Luke 12:57-59, 17:4; see also James 2:13. In describing the need
to forgive so as to obtain forgiveness in the midst of His discussion
of prayer, Jesus also indicated that, when we pray sincerely, God make
us able to forgive sins.
In speaking of the need to forgive sins, Jesus tends to speak at the
same time about the need to avoid creating temptations. See Matt.
5:6-7, 18:6-9, 15-22; Luke 17:1-4. Part of the idea is that both
involve freedom from sins and the wiles of the devil, forgiveness dealing
with freedom from past guilt and avoiding temptation freedom from future
guilt; they are different sides of the same coin. While we know
that temptation is inevitable in the world, see Luke 17:1, we ask that
we be close enough to God that we will not experience any unnecessary
temptation. If we are faithful to God, we will not experience
any temptation that we cannot handle. See 1 Cor. 10:13.
However, if one is arrogant or distant from God, God allows temptation
to draw a person back. See Sir. 14:20-15:20; James 1:13-15.
We ask that this effect not happen. The phrase "trespasses"
more literally means the debt owed to God from sin. It thus reminds
one on the parable of the unforgiving servant. See Matt. 18:21-34.
The prayer ends asking that we be delivered (or more literally "freed")
from "evil" or "the evil one." The idea is that evil is
a constant threat, but as long as one is faithful, the threat is weak
because of the presence of Christ. See, e.g., Luke 22:31-32; John
16:33, 17:13-15; 2 Thess. 3:3-4; Rev. 14:12-13.
C. The Prayer of Embolism completes the Our Father, bringing it back up to a celebration connecting heaven and earth.
The prayer continues along the same lines of asking God to deliver us
from all evil and brings in more directly the notion of peace, freed
from sin and anxiety, that is the first promise and preparation for
the everlasting kingdom.
Part of the idea is that, at least within the Church and at especially
every Mass, there should be a peacefulness and holiness that draws the
world towards God. Acts of the Apostles describes the Apostles
as maintaining this peacefulness within the Church even as the Church
was being persecuted. See Acts 1:13-14; 2:42-47; 4:32-37, 6:1-7;
3. The response to the prayer, "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours, now and forever" comes from a prayer in the Didache, a church document from the first century that explained many of the rules for the early Church around Rome, including how the Mass proceeds. See Didache 10. This prayer emphasizes the glory of Jesus as the Son of Man who rules invisibly over all things even now and who will return in glory to establish His visible and final reign of splendor. See Dan. 7:13-14, 21-27; Matt. 25:31; Rev. 1:7, 19:11-16.
Although the priest's prayer will change slightly in the new translation,
this response will be the same.
In Protestant churches, this prayer is often added to the Our Father,
in part because some ancient texts of the Bible have this phrase as
a part of the Our Father recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew.
VIII. The Rite of Peace sets the stage for the harmony needed for a worthy reception of the Eucharist.
The rite of peace then picks up on this prayer for peace, recalling
Jesus' words at the Last Supper, "Peace I leave with you; My peace
I give you." John 14:27. They are words meant to inspire
confidence in Christ's presence in the midst of what is often a troubled
world. See also John 16:33.
The priest asks that Christ give us His forgiveness through "the faith
of the Church." The letters to the Roman and Galatians emphasize
that, by faith in Christ, we obtain forgiveness of our sins even before
we are worthy. See Romans 4; Gal 2:15-3:29. There is a strong
notion that we are not on our own, but as with the paralyzed man who
was brought to Jesus or the daughter of Jarius, others help us also
along the path to holiness. See Mark 2:1-12, 5:21-42; James 5:13-15;
prayer then invokes the image of the peace of the kingdom and unity
of God and calls God to grant that to us. Jesus calls His apostles
to that peace and unity at the Last Supper, saying that through that
unity the world would believe. See John 17:20-26. And the
First Letter to the Corinthians says that that peace and unity is essential
for the mission of the Church, especially in the context of the Eucharist.
See 1 Cor. 11:17-18, 12:1-31; see also Eph. 2:14-22. Part of the
idea is that we are calling upon the order of the saints and angels
in heaven, as described especially in the Book of Revelation, to descend
to us at the Mass, and thus guide the Church. See Rev. 3-4; see
also Heb. 12:22-24.
As St. Paul generally does at the beginning of His letters, the priest
asks that God's peace come upon those gathered. See, e.g., Rom.
1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:2; Eph. 1:2Phil 1:2; Col. 1:2.
E. There is then the option, generally used, of offering a sign of that peace with one another. The idea is in part that we should be at peace with each other, especially those within the Church, in order worthily to worship God. See Matt 5:23-26; Mark 11:25.
This sign of peace begins with the priest saying, "The peace of the
Lord be with you always."
As with the beginning of the Mass, the Gospel and the Preface, the response
will change to "and also with your spirit."
Then the priest of deacon says, "Let us offer each other a sign of
IX. The Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) helps prepare us for communion by recognizing Jesus as the final Paschal Lamb, who frees us from sin and leads us into freedom.
A. The phrase "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world" comes from the preaching of John the Baptist, who testified to Jesus before his disciples and especially spoke of the baptism of the Holy Spirit Jesus would bring. In Revelation, the angels, saints and all creation sing the praises of the Lamb who reigns and saves His people. See Rev. 5:9-13, 7:10-17, 19:1-8.
B. The symbolism of the Lamb is threefold:
A Passover Lamb was slaughtered for each family on the day before the
Chosen People's liberation from Egypt; and its blood, placed on the
door, was the indication for the angel of death to pass over their houses,
sparing the firstborn. The family would then eat the Passover
Lamb, indicating their communion with the people to be freed.
The Lord commanded that the Passover be celebrated as a perpetual institution.
See Ex. 12.
Isaiah had prophesied that the suffering servant of the Lord "would
be led like a lamb to the slaughter" but through the offering of his
life would "justify many . . . and win pardon for their offenses."
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is repeatedly described as the conquering
Lamb of God, who both unseals the scroll of God's judgment and stands
at the center of the heavenly kingdom, welcoming the Church in all her
purity as His bride. Rev. 5:6-13, 7:9-17, 14:1-5, 19:6-7, 21:2-4,
We pray for God's mercy and for peace. The mercy of God includes
both forgiveness of sins and overcoming the effects of sin. See
Matt. 18:21-35, Luke 10:37. The 51st psalm begins with
the phrase "have mercy on me, O God" and continues with the idea
of purification that makes one worthy to offer worship. The Book
of Revelation describes the Lamb as providing final peace for His flock
in the midst of the travails afflicting the world. See Rev. 7:13-17,
17:14; 21:22-27. God's merciful providence in this life leads
to a peace of the soul now, and a final peace in the everlasting kingdom,
see John 14:27, 17:33, of which the Mass is a first promise.
D. As the Agnus Dei is being said or sung, the priest breaks the large host and places a piece of the host into the chalice as he says in a low voice "May the mingling of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it."
The breaking of bread was a common Jewish custom reflecting the unity
of a household or community. Acts describes the common worship
(likely the Mass) as "the breaking of bread." Acts 2:42.
All of the Last Supper accounts refer to the breaking of bread.
See Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24. And, in
the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus broke bread, and the Apostles
distributed it and gathered together the fragments. John 6:1-13.
The distribution of the one broken bread, and the gathering together
of the parts is a symbol of the unity of the Church, whose people, though
scattered throughout the world, share in the one bread of angels.
See 1 Cor. 10:17; General Instructions to the Roman Missal 83.
The placing of the Eucharistic bread into the chalice is a symbol of
the resurrection of Christ, when His life came back to His body.
For, in Jewish thought, the blood represented life. See Gen. 9:5-6;
Lev. 17:11; Duet. 12:23. And, in turn the Resurrection of Christ
is the cause of our own promised resurrection. See 1 Cor. 15:12-19;
1 Thess 4:14. It is only a symbol of the reunion, for the Eucharist
under each species (i.e. under the appearance of bread or wine) contains
all of the humanity and divinity of Jesus, for since the resurrection
Jesus' body and blood can no longer be divided from each other.
The difference is that, under the species of bread, the presence of
the body of Christ causes all of Christ to be present. Under the
species of wine, the presence of the blood of Christ causes all of Christ
to be present. See Summa Theologica III q. 76 art. 1. The
idea is called concomitance.
X. The priest then prays for his own purification before receiving communion and then leads the congregation also in praying for purification. Once again, the rite recalls St. Paul's warning that we should be prepared and purified before receiving communion. See 1 Cor. 11:19-32.
The priest, knowing his demanding role, professes his faith in the saving
work of the Trinity, and asks that the Eucharist apply this salvation
to his own life.
The priest then genuflects to the Eucharist and holds up the host, either
above the paten or above the chalice. In the current translation,
he says, "This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the
world. Happy are those who are called to His supper. The
new translation will read, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away
the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper
of the Lamb." The first phrase is again from John the Baptist,
pointing the way to Christ. The second sentence comes from the
wedding song in the Book of Revelation, see Rev. 19:9, and both refers
to the Mass and to the everlasting wedding feast of heaven. See
also Rev. 3:20. The new translation will emphasize that God makes
us blessed, see, e.g., Matt 5:2-10, not always happy. Happiness
and sadness are emotions that can come and go; blessedness endures.
C. The current response is, "Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed. The new translation will say, "I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." The new translation, faithful to the Latin, makes it clear that this response comes from the words of the centurion who asked Jesus to cure his son. Jesus considered his response to be a prime example of faith, a faith that will lead peoples from around the world to God's heavenly banquet, of which the Mass is a first promise. See Matt. 8:8; Luke 7:6.
XI. The priests and any other ministers then distribute Communion.
The priest then receives communion after praying silently "May the
body of Christ bring me to everlasting life" and "May the blood
of Christ bring me to everlasting life." The new translation will
be similar, "May the body of Christ [or blood of Christ] keep me safe
for eternal life." He again recalls that the Eucharist is the greatest
sharing even now in the life of heaven, and, if received fittingly,
brings one further along the path. See John 6:54.
The priest, deacon, and, if necessary, extraordinary ministers of Holy
Communion then give Communion to the congregation. (An extraordinary
minister of Holy Communion must receive the ciborium or chalice from
the priest or deacon to distribute to others.) Before receiving
Communion, the communicants should make a sign of reverence, which in
the United States is now customarily a bow. General Instructions
to the Roman Missal 160. The idea is to make a final sign of reverence
before receiving the King of glory. (For a similar reason, the
celebrating priest genuflects before holding up the Eucharist and saying
"Behold the Lamb of God. . . ." and the concelebrating priests bow
at that point and genuflect before receiving the Eucharist from the
The priest and the deacon are required to receive communion under both
species, reflecting Jesus' command to the Apostles (i.e. the first priests)
at the Last Supper to eat and drink His body and blood under both forms.
If the local bishop permits the distribution of communion under both
species (i.e. under the appearance of bread and wine), and if the celebrant
decides to make both species available, others may receive communion
under both species, but are never required to do so. For, as stated
above, all of Christ is present under each form.
The priest, deacon, or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion says
"The body of Christ" when giving the Eucharist under the species
of bread, and "The blood of Christ" when giving communion under
the species of bread. The response "Amen" indicates a full
belief in this doctrine with all of one's mind and soul.
After distributing Communion, the priest, deacon, or installed acolyte
(a ministry in the Church, conferred on seminarians, but conferable
at the bishop's discretion on men who are at least 18) generally purify
the precious vessels immediately. They can also be purified immediately
after Mass. The idea is that every particle and every drop of
the Eucharist contains Jesus and therefore must be consumed or (if under
the species of bread) placed in the tabernacle. In the United
States, a bishop may give permission for extraordinary ministers of
Holy Communion to purify the precious vessels if necessary. Before
purifying the precious vessels, the minister would currently prays,
"Lord, may I receive these gifts in purity of heart. May
they bring me healing and strength now and forever." The new
translation will be closer to the Latin and more majestic, "What has
passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart,
that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity."
This prayer may reflect the prophesy of Malachi that God would purify
the sons of Levi (the priestly tribe) that they may offer fitting sacrifice
to God. Mal 3:3-4.
After a time of silence or song, the Communion Rite ends with the Prayer
after Communion. The prayer generally asks that God make the Eucharist
we have received be the source of greater holiness in our lives and
lead us to heaven. By asking God for His help, we seek to avoid
the error of the Apostles at the Last Supper when they assumed that
their own strength would keep them faithful to Christ. See Matt.
26:31-35; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-34. Instead, heading St. Paul's
warning against overconfidence, we place our trust in God, who will
not allow us to be tried beyond our strength. See 1 Cor. 10:1-13.
We ask that God strengthen us to carry out our the various roles, as
St. Paul describes right after his instructions regarding the Eucharist.
See 1 Cor. 12:1-13:13.
XII. The Concluding Rite sends the congregation forth to bring the presence of Christ to the world.
Jesus, after appearing again to the disciples after the Resurrection,
sent them forth to evangelize the world, promising them His presence
and the power of the Holy Spirit. See Matt. 28:18-20; Mark
16:15-20; Luke 24:44-53; John 20:19-23 (more specifically for the Apostles
as the first priests); Acts 1:1-12. Likewise, after experiencing
the re-presentation of the death of Christ, being in the presence of
the risen Christ, and receiving Him, the faithful are sent forth to
bring the Gospel to the world.
B. As with the beginning of Mass, the Gospel and the Preface, the priest begins by saying "The Lord be with you.
- Currently, the people respond "And also with you." As before, the response will be changed to "and also with your spirit."
C. Then, the priest gives the final blessing. The most common blessing is "May almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." The Mass, and the sacraments generally, end with a blessing. It is especially fitting at the Mass, for Jesus blessed His disciples just before ascending into heaven, and called upon them to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. See Matt 28:18-20; Luke 24:50-53.
There may also be a solemn blessing, which begins, "Bow your heads
and pray for God's blessing" (or more literally "bow towards the
blessing.") Partially, this idea comes from a common notion
of reverencing God to receive His blessing and give Him thanks.
See Duet. 26:10; Ps. 22:28-30, 138:1-3 . Bowing before God, we
offering Him our willingness to carry out His will, and He blesses us
in our efforts. See Micah 6:6-8. The blessing then includes
one or three prayers, and concludes with the traditional blessing.
The apostolic blessing of a bishop includes a dialogue. The bishop
says, "Blessed is the name of the Lord" and the people respond "now
and forever." Then the bishop says, "Our help is in the name
of the Lord" and the people respond, "Who made heaven and earth."
The first declaration and response is from the prayer of Daniel as he
was about to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, based upon God's
revelation. See Dan. 2:20. Likewise, we are giving thanks
to God for opening our hearts and minds to the mysteries of heaven through
the Mass. The second declaration and response is from Psalms 121
and 124, pilgrim psalms that celebrate God's guidance of His people
through the dangers of life. See Ps. 121:2, 124:8.
D. The priest then sends the congregation forth.
In Latin the final words are "Ite, missa est," which meansmean,
"Go, it is sent forth." The idea is that the presence of Christ,
and the graces of the Mass generally, are sent forth with the faithful.
Jesus sent forth His apostles at the Last Supper to bring His presence
to the world. See John 17:18. God sends forth
His word to heal the nations. See Ps. 107:20; Isaiah 55:11.
As Psalm 50 says, "The Lord, the God of gods, has spoken and summoned
the earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting. God shines
forth in perfect beauty." The English translations of this dismissal
reflect this idea in different ways. There are currently three
options; a fourth one will be added.
Currently, the first option is: "The Mass is ended; go in peace."
That option will be divided into to options. That blessing reflects
a wish that the hearer be at peace that God has heard his prayer.
See 1 Sam. 1:17, Luke 7:50, 8:48. This phrase reflects the joy
of Simeon, who upon seeing the infant Jesus proclaimed, "Now Lord,
You may let your servant go in peace." Luke 2:28-29. Currently,
the second option is ,"Go in the peace of Christ." It reflects a
similar idea, using the phrase "the peace of Christ" from the letter
to the Colossians, where St. Paul wrote of the unity of the Church achieved
through living in the grace of Christ. See Col. 3:15.
These two options will be replaced by two others, which express similar
sentiment. The first option will be, The first option will be
to say, "Go forth, the Mass is ended." And the second option
will be to say simply "Go in peace."
The commission, "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord" emphasizes
again the idea of serving the Christ who has come to us. This
idea of serving the Lord comes in part from the ancient Jewish commands
to serve God alone. See Duet 6:13, 10:20; Joshua 24:14-15; Dan.
3:18, 28Matt 4:10, 6:24, Luke 16:13; 1 Thess. 1:9. Partially,
it is a call to live out the salvation we have received in thanksgiving.
See Mark 1:31; Romans 12:11. This option will be replace with
two ways of giving the commission: "Go and announce the Gospel of
the Lord" or "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life."
These two commissionings may reflect the call of Christ that His disciples
be lights to the world, giving glory to God and proclaiming the gospel
to all nations. See Matt. 5:16, 28:19.
The response, "Thanks be to God" expresses once again a gratitude
at receiving God's calling. See 2 Cor. 2:14-15, 9:11-15.
The priest then reverences the altar, showing reverence for the throne
of God. See, e.g., Luke 7:36-38 (the penitent woman kissing the
feet of Jesus); Is. 6:1 (the magnificence of the throne of God); Dan.
7:9-10; Rev. 4:1. This gesture can also represent the spousal love between
Christ and His Church. See Eph. 5:32-33; Rev. 11:1; 21:1-2, 9-10. Then
the priest, the deacon, the altar servers, and sometimes others serving
at the Mass genuflect before the tabernacle, or if there is no tabernacle,
bow before the altar. They then process out of the church.