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The Eucharistic Prayer
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ , or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.

No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since "no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord".

The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.

Pope Francis
Evangelii Gaudium
The Joy of the Gospel
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Lord, I trust that you are present and very much want to instruct me in your teachings.

In the same way that you demonstrate your love for me by spending this time with me, I want to express my love for you by dedicating this time to you with a spirit of faith, confidence and attention.

Here I am, Lord, to listen to you and respond with love.

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After Watching The Videos

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  1. Most of the time we consider that Jesus is our sacrifice to God. How often do I consider that Jesus' sacrifice enables me to join my life to His to make mine a consecrated sacrifice to God? At this point of the Mass, do I consciously offer myself to God with Christ, putting my whole life: thoughts, words, works, talents, desires, troubles, struggles, will?

  2. Do I renew my faith at the eucharistic consecration, like St. Thomas the Apostle who saw the wounds of Jesus and proclaimed, "My Lord and my God"?

  3. In the Eucharistic Prayer, we pray for our Pope, our Bishop and those whose mission it is to defend and teach the faith that comes to us from the Apostles. Do I realise that I too have a mission to support our Bishop and priests in their mission through my prayer and fidelity?

  4. The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity, joining God's people on earth and in heaven, uniting the church throughout the world, unifying the assembly in Christ by the Holy Spirit. What does this sacrament of unity practically demand of me?

  5. "Through him, with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, forever and ever." Does this part of Mass remind me that the purpose of everything, of my whole life, is God's glory? That true glory is only given to God through Jesus, with Him and in Him?

  6. When I sing the "Great Amen", do I realize that I am pledging my life to be united to Jesus, and to live a life of "love one another as I have loved you"? Do I live my life consistent with this "Amen"?

  7. I shall study and reflect on Eucharistic Prayer II and III so that I can understand and participate fully in this part of the Mass.

  8. Before I receive the Eucharist at Mass this week, I shall reflect on Jesus' teaching in John 6 (Bread of Life Discourse) and make a firm declaration of faith in the reality of Jesus' Real Presence in the Eucharist.


In More Detail

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a) The Holy Trinity:


God the Father, to whom the sacrifice of Christ the Son is offered and who accepts it;


Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic assembly as its Head. "... Christ himself, the principal agent of the Eucharist. He is high priest of the New Covenant; it is he himself who presides invisibly over every Eucharistic celebration." (CCC 1348);


The Holy Spirit who comes upon the gifts of bread and wine, and upon the assembly gathered at the altar.



b) Christ's whole Body, the Church:


"The whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ" (CCC 1369). In the Eucharist are united: the Church Militant, on earth; the Church Triumphant, in heaven; and the Church Suffering, in purgatory.


"The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. The Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ's sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering." (CCC 1368)


"To the offering of Christ are united not only the members still here on earth, but also those already in the glory of heaven. In communion with and commemorating the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, the Church offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. In the Eucharist the Church is as it were at the foot of the cross with Mary, united with the offering and intercession of Christ." (CCC 1370)


"The Eucharistic sacrifice is also offered for the faithful departed who "have died in Christ but are not yet wholly purified," so that they may be able to enter into the light and peace of Christ." (CCC 1371)



c) The whole creation:


"The Eucharist, the sacrament of our salvation accomplished by Christ on the cross, is also a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for the work of creation. In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the Resurrection of Christ. Through Christ the Church can offer the sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for all that God has made good, beautiful, and just in creation and in humanity." (CCC 1359)


Everything in the universe and everything in our lives can be offered and transformed in the Eucharist. We bring our whole selves to the Eucharist and lay them on the altar. The Eucharist is Christ, and whatever we give to Christ, we get back perfected and transformed. To the extent that we give ourselves up, to that extent we get our true, Christ-transformed selves back.

The Eucharistic Prayer is the heart of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It also called the "Canon of the Mass" or by the Greek word "Anaphora" which means something borne or "carried up" as an offering.


The Eucharistic Prayer is indeed an offering, the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the self-giving of Jesus on the cross at Calvary as our sacrifice to the Father. In this prayer, the priest acts in the person of Christ as head of his body, the Church. He gathers not only our gifts of bread and wine, but the substance of our lives and joins them to Christ's perfect sacrifice, offering them to the Father.


The priest offers the Eucharistic Prayer in the first person plural, for example, "Have mercy on us all, we pray, ....." This "we" signifies that all of us present at the Eucharistic celebration make the sacrificial offering in union with Christ, and pray the Eucharistic Prayer in union with him.


It is important for us to understand that we do not offer Christ alone; we are called to offer ourselves, our lives, our individual efforts to grow more like Christ and our efforts as a community of believers to spread God's Word and to serve God's people, to the Father in union with Christ through the hands of the priest. Although our offering is in itself imperfect, joined with the offering of Christ, it becomes perfect praise and thanksgiving to the Father.



The Eucharistic Prayer includes:


a) Thanksgiving and acclamation - In the preface, the Church gives thanks to the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit, for all His works: creation, redemption, and sanctification. The whole community, in Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) joins in the unending praise that the Church in heaven, the angels and all the saints, sing to the thrice-holy God.

b) The epiclesis, in which, by means of particular invocations, the Church implores the power of the Holy Spirit that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated, that is, become Christ's Body and Blood, and that the unblemished sacrificial Victim to be consumed in Communion may be for the salvation of those who will partake of it.


c) The Institution narrative and Consecration, in which the power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ's body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all.


d) Remembrance - In the anamnesis that follows, the Church, fulfilling the command that she received from Christ the Lord through the Apostles, celebrates the memorial of Christ, calling to mind the Passion, resurrection, ascension and glorious return of Christ Jesus.


e) Offering - The oblation, by which, in this memorial, the Church offers the unblemished sacrificial Victim in the Holy Spirit to the Father. The Church's intention is that we also learn to offer ourselves, and that day by day through the mediation of Christ, we are brought into unity with God and with each other so that God may at last be all in all.


f) The intercessions, by which expression is given to the fact that the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the whole Church, of both heaven and of earth, and that the oblation is made for her and for all her members, living and dead, who are called to participate in the redemption and salvation purchased by the Body and Blood of Christ.


g) The concluding doxology, by which the glorification of God is expressed and which is affirmed and concluded by our acclamation "Amen."

The priest has the option of choosing one of the four primary Eucharistic Prayers (I,II,III,IV) within the Roman Missal. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, there was only one Eucharistic Prayer (known as the Roman Canon). It remains today as Eucharistic Prayer I and is the longest and is usually used on more solemn occasions.


In addition to these four, the Church has other Eucharistic Prayers to be used in special circumstances (eg. Masses of Reconciliation and Masses for Children), sometimes referred to as Votive Masses.


The various Eucharistic Prayers differ from one another in style and content, but they share a similar solemnity and dignity. Each has its own emphasis, but they all speak the same truth and accomplish the same end. Like so many prayers of the Mass, the Eucharistic Prayers are Trinitarian - in praying them, the priest, on behalf of the entire Church, addresses God the Father through Christ in the Spirit. Thus, the Eucharistic Prayers are also referred to as presidential prayers, owing to the role of priest or presider in the Liturgy.


The Eucharistic Prayers can be found in the Sunday and Weekday Missals under the section "The Order of Mass". An online version that is designed for comparative study, in order to see both the similarity in structure and the differences in wording and length of the various prayers, can be found here.

Part of the Eucharistic Prayer is the calling down of the Holy Spirit upon the offerings of bread and wine. In Eucharistic Prayer II, the priest says: "Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall." This gesture is made obvious by the priest placing his hands over the gifts and then making the sign of the cross. This calling down of the Holy Spirit is called the Epiclesis (meaning "invocation upon"), in which the priest asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit in order to sanctify our offerings so that they may become the Body and Blood of Jesus. The epiclesis makes it very clear that the Mass is primarily a work of God. Our offerings cannot be transformed by any human means, but only by the power of God.


Jesus came to us to give us the Spirit, and by the Spirit we come to share God's life. It is by the Spirit that we have new life (Rom 8:15). It is only by the Spirit that we can pray to the Father (Gal 4:6). It is by the Spirit that we know God's love in our hearts (Rom 5:5). It is the Spirit who gives up hope (Rom 15:13) and the Spirit can make us holy (Rom 15:16). By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Word was made flesh and made His dwelling among us. There is nothing the Spirit cannot accomplish - including the change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. And this miracle happens in every Catholic Church every day!


The Spirit is also the principle of unity in the Church. So the Eucharistic Prayer includes a second epiclesis, a prayer for the Spirit to come upon us as upon the gifts. For example, in Eucharistic Prayer II: "Humbly we pray that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit" and in Eucharistic Prayer III: "..... grant that we, who are nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son and filled with his Holy Spirit, may become one body, one spirit in Christ." The Spirit transforms us, each of us and all of us, into Christ. We receive His body, and we become His body, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend." In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained." "This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present." (CCC 1374)


The Holy Spirit's gift of faith enables us to believe the awesome truth that in the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained."


This presence of Christ in the consecrated species of bread and wine is called the "real presence". This does not mean that our Lord is not present in other ways; rather, it emphasizes His fullest presence in the Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist that Jesus Christ - God and man - makes himself wholly and entirely present to us, that is, substantially present.


We believe that it is a singular privilege to receive our Lord in holy communion. We cannot be more closely united to Christ and to one another than in our reception of the Eucharist.

Christ is present during the Eucharist in various ways. He is present in the person of the priest who offers the sacrifice of the Mass. According to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, Christ is present in His Word "since it is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church." (CCC 1088)


He is also present in the assembly as we pray and sing, "for he has promised 'where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them'" (Mt 18:20). Furthermore, he is likewise present in other sacraments like in baptism.


We speak of the presence of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine as "real" in order to emphasize the special nature of that presence. What appears to be bread and wine is in its very substance the Body and Blood of Christ. The entire Christ is present, God and man, body and blood, soul and divinity. While the other ways in which Christ is present in the celebration of the Eucharist are certainly not unreal, this way surpasses the others. "This presence is called 'real' not to exclude the idea that the others are 'real' too, but rather to indicate presence par excellence, because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man." (Mysterium Fidei, no. 39).

When a priest or catechist tells us that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, we may think of this presence as a symbol such that the Eucharist is still bread and wine, but it represents Jesus' presence among us. Or we may think that what the church means by this is that Jesus really is present in the Eucharist not as a mere symbol, but that He is really there alongside the bread and wine. These thoughts reflect the difficulty in understanding this great mystery.


In the celebration of the Eucharist, the glorified Christ becomes present under the appearances of bread and wine in a way that is unique. In the Church's traditional theological language, in the act of consecration during the Eucharist, the "substance" of the bread and wine is changed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the "substance" of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. At the same time, the "accidents" or appearances of bread and wine remain.


"Substance" and "accidents" are terms used to convey the fact that what appears to be bread and wine (at the level of "accidents" or physical attributes - that is, what can be seen, touched, tasted, or measured) in fact is now the Body and Blood of Christ (at the level of "substance" or deepest reality). This change at the level of substance from bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is called "transubstantiation." Our Catholic faith teaches us that we can speak of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because this transubstantiation has occurred.


The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation." (CCC 1376)


This is a great mystery of our faith — we can only know it from Christ's teaching given to us in the Scriptures and in the Tradition of the Church.


"It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. the Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion.


Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:


'It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. the priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.'


And St. Ambrose says about this conversion:


'Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed.... Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.'" (CCC 1375)


That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and His true Blood is something that "cannot be apprehended by the senses," says St. Thomas, "but only by faith, which relies on divine authority." For this reason, in a commentary on Luke 22:19 ("This is my body which is given for you."), St. Cyril says:


"Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot lie." (CCC1381)

In order for the whole Christ to be present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, the bread and wine cannot remain, but must give way so that His glorified Body and Blood may be present. Thus in the Eucharist the bread ceases to be bread in substance, and becomes the Body of Christ, while the wine ceases to be wine in substance, and becomes the Blood of Christ.

During the celebration of the Eucharist, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, and this they remain. They cannot turn back into bread and wine, for they are no longer bread and wine at all. There is thus no reason for them to change back to their "normal" state after the special circumstances of the Mass are past.


The Church teaches that once the substance has really changed, Christ remains present under the appearances of bread and wine as long as the appearances of bread and wine remain:


"The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ." (CCC 1377)

The word "mystery" is commonly used to refer to something that escapes the full comprehension of the human mind. In the Bible, however, the word has a deeper and more specific meaning, for it refers to aspects of God's plan of salvation for humanity, which has already begun but will be completed only with the end of time.


In ancient Israel, through the Holy Spirit God revealed to the prophets some of the secrets of what he was going to accomplish for the salvation of His people (cf. Am 3:7; Is 21:28; Dan 2:27-45). Likewise, through the preaching and teaching of Jesus, the mystery of "the Kingdom of God" was being revealed to His disciples (Mk 4:11-12). St. Paul explained that the mysteries of God may challenge our human understanding or may even seem to be foolishness, but their meaning is revealed to the People of God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 1:18-20; Rom 16:25-27; Rev 10:7).


The Eucharist is a mystery because it participates in the mystery of Jesus Christ and God's plan to save humanity through Christ. We should not be surprised if there are aspects of the Eucharist that are not easy to understand, for God's plan for the world has repeatedly surpassed human expectations and human understanding. For example, Joseph and Mary did not understand what Jesus meant when He replied, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Lk 2:49-50). Or the disciples who did not at first understand that it was necessary for the Messiah to be put to death and then to rise from the dead. Furthermore, any time that we are speaking of God we need to keep in mind that our human concepts never entirely grasp God. We must not try to limit God to our understanding, but allow our understanding to be stretched beyond its normal limitations by God's revelation.

"Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord." (CCC 1411)


"Consecration" is what the priest does; "transubstantiation" is what God does. In this same event, in this same miracle, God is the cause and the priest is His instrument.

In the intercession of Eucharistic Prayer II, for example, the Priest prays:


"Remember, Lord, your Church, spread throughout the world, and bring her to the fullness of charity, together with Francis our Pope and William our Bishop and all the clergy."


The Catechism teaches us:


"The whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ. Since he has the ministry of Peter in the Church, the Pope is associated with every celebration of the Eucharist, wherein he is named as the sign and servant of the unity of the universal Church. The bishop of the place is always responsible for the Eucharist, even when a priest presides; the bishop's name is mentioned to signify his presidency over the particular Church, in the midst of his presbyterium and with the assistance of deacons. the community intercedes also for all ministers who, for it and with it, offer the Eucharistic sacrifice:


Let only that Eucharist be regarded as legitimate, which is celebrated under [the presidency of] the bishop or him to whom he has entrusted it.

Through the ministry of priests the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is completed in union with the sacrifice of Christ the only Mediator, which in the Eucharist is offered through the priests' hands in the name of the whole Church in an unbloody and sacramental manner until the Lord himself comes." (CCC 1369)

Scripture emphasizes the eternal aspect of Christ's sacrifice and entrance into heaven "once and for all":


"And (Christ) does not have to offer himself again and again, like the high priest going into the sanctuary year after year with the blood that is not his own, or else he would have had to suffer over and over again since the world began. Instead of that, he has made his appearance once and for all, now at the end of the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself. Since men only die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, too, offers himself only once to take the faults of many on himself, and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him." (Heb 9:25-28)


"(Christ), on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then taken his place forever, at the right hand of God. By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying." (Heb 10: 12, 10:14)


The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:


"Because it is the memorial of Christ's Passover, the Eucharist is also a sacrifice. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: 'This is my body which is given for you' and 'This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.' In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he 'poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'" (CCC 1365)


"The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit:


[Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the Last Supper "on the night when he was betrayed," [he wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit." (CCC 1366)


"The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: 'The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.' 'In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.'" (CCC 1367)


Christ offered himself once and for all on the Cross. He said, "It is finished" (Jn 19:30). He does not need to be crucified again and again. The Eucharist does not repeat this sacrifice that was accomplished on Calvary, but re-presents it to the Father in each Mass.


By virtue of dying once, being raised and then ascending into heaven. Jesus remains perpetually available as our sacrifice. When the priest pronounces the words of Jesus Christ and calls down the Holy Spirit upon the gifts of bread and wine, Jesus makes present on the altar what is perpetually present for him in heaven. The sacrifice of Christ, made once and for all, becomes present in the Mass. Because Jesus is truly God and therefore truly eternal, he has no time, no past, no future; every moment of history - past, present and future - is perpetually present to him. Therefore his death on the cross is eternally present to him in heaven, as is his resurrection.
At the altars in our churches, Jesus makes his eternal sacrifice of the cross present for us. By this actions, he redeems us. Without leaving the heavenly Holy of Holies, Christ makes his self-offering present to us in such a way that until the end of time we can "take and eat" and "take and drink" his saving Body and Blood.

The word "Amen" completes a prayer. It signifies our consent to all the words that preceded it. In biblical time, it was pronounced as the affirmation of an oath, a pledge of full and unreserved faith. When the Levites sang, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting," the people joined in the blessing of God by exclaiming "Amen" (1 Chr 16:36). When Ezra read the book of the law in a solemn ceremony and concluded with a blessing of God, the people answered, "Amen, Amen" (Neh 8:6).


Jesus also used it as a preface to especially solemn teachings. Four times in the Bread of Life Discourse in John 6, He pronounced a double Amen. "Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you." (John 6:53)


There are several Amens in the course of the Mass, but this is called the Great Amen because it follows the final doxology or the grand finale of the Church's great prayer, the Eucharistic Prayer:


"Through him, with him, and in him,
O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honour is yours, forever and ever."


In addition to affirming that all glory and honour is God's, our "Amen" is an affirmation of the entire Eucharistic prayer. The priest has been representing the Church throughout this prayer. Now we give our "Yes!" to all that the priest has been praying. St. Augustine described this great "Amen" as our signature under the prayer of the priest.


We are to live our life consistent with our "Amen", following Jesus' teaching "Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes' and your 'No' mean 'No'; anything more is from the evil one." (Mt 5:37)

The Eucharistic Prayer

 
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