The Eucharistic Prayer
After the Sanctus comes the Eucharistic Prayer. It has traditionally been called the “canon” of the Mass, meaning norm or rule. Its core structure and elements provide an excellent model for personal prayer.
Each Eucharistic Prayer contains the same three essential elements. First is a section called the “epiclesis.” Epiclesis is a Greek word meaning, “to call down from on high.” Here the Holy Spirit is called down from the heights of heaven to come upon the gifts of bread and wine to transform them into the Body and Blood of Christ.
To symbolize this, the priest normally holds his hands over the gifts, reminiscent of how Jesus laid His hands upon the sick to change their state in life from illness to health.
The same is true of the bread and wine as they are changed by God’s generosity from elements of the earth to supernatural gifts from heaven.
The new translation of the Mass attempts to highlight the connection of the epiclesis to its definition as a gift from above by saying things such as, “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.”
Another important section of each Eucharistic prayer is called the “anamnesis.”
This is a term meaning memory. Here God’s most gracious and saving action in Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension are recalled to remind us of our ultimate destiny in faith.
Although the mysteries of the life of Christ do not exhaust all of God’s presence in history, it certainly does show the culmination of His love. The new translation of the Mass shows this by speaking of “the memorial of the saving passion of Your Son, His wondrous resurrection, and ascension into heaven.”
We recall these things because we look forward to the second coming when the Lord will welcome us into His fold.
Finally comes a doxology, or words of praise, where all glory and honor is given to God as the author of salvation.
These words of praise combine all three persons of the Trinity. It begins with Christ, as all things move through Him, and with Him, and in Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
These essential elements found in the Eucharistic Prayer of every Mass serve as an excellent norm for personal prayer.
Instead of praying only when we need something, it is in remembering to give thanks to God by identifying the things He has already accomplished in us that we see His hand constantly present. This is anamnesis.
Giving the Lord praise in doxology for all of His benefits in, with, and through His Son and the Holy Spirit link us more deeply into the community of God and, therefore, our family on earth.
Invoking God’s continued presence from above in epiclesis on the actions of our life all serve to remind us of what God has already done for us and help us to await in hope for the benefits that continue to unfold.
The Eucharistic Prayer may sound ordinary since we hear it so often.
The elements that constitute it, however, are an excellent rule for us to rise upward and be transformed into God’s willing servants, much like the bread and wine are transformed into His servant Jesus at Mass.