Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Now here is where things get tricky. There are a number of Eucharistic Prayers that we could examine and thereby get bogged down for weeks going over each one individually. Or we could so lightly gloss over them all that nothing in depth could be stated. I would like to believe that people regularly get the opportunity to hear the “Roman Canon (RC)” or Eucharistic Prayer I, but I have some doubt that this is the case. Just the same, perhaps with some general comments we will take a brief look at the RC and allow you to make appropriate application to all of the Eucharist Prayers.

The first thing to notice is that they are directed to the Father. The RC begins with the celebrant speaking on behalf of those assembled, “We come to you Father . . . through Jesus Christ Your Son.” We are speaking to the Father but He already knows what it is we are going to say. So in reality we are reminding and teaching ourselves what we are offering to the Father.

We call to mind all those in this world we wish to remember to the Father in this sacrifice; His Holy Catholic Church, which includes the Pope, our bishop, and all who hold and teach this faith given to us by the apostles. We are given the opportunity to call to mind some specific people we wish to pray for among the living. Of course we also want to include ourselves, “All of us gathered here before you . . . and those who are dear to us.” That is part of the glory of the ritual. So much is included every week in our official prayer so that we would never, upon leaving Mass in a world where the prayer is invented anew by the celebrant Sunday after Sunday, say, “Did you notice we didn’t pray for N. today?”

It must be remembered that there is only one sacrifice and only one priest. The one priest is Jesus and the sacrifice is His 2,000 years ago. When the Church prays the Mass it is ultimately Jesus Christ who performs the sacrifice (which is why it does not matter two figs who the priest is or how holy he is! It is Jesus Who makes Himself present!) And further it is all part of the one great sacrifice (something to be explored again in just a little bit.) Every Mass is as if a curtain in time has been opened and we are all present at the One Sacrifice offered by Our Lord in His life, death, and resurrection. So, in the next line, when we say, “In union with the whole Church,” we mean everyone throughout the world, for we are all, whenever we celebrate the Mass, present at the one Holy Sacrifice.

As one we acknowledge those who loved Him with all their hearts, mind, and body in this world and now share eternity with Him in Heaven among who is “Mary, Joseph, Peter and Paul, Andrew,” and all the saints on who give us “their constant help and protection.” In these short words we call to mind our belief in the One Body of Christ that has Christ as its head. We are all united in Jesus. There are not two bodies of Christ and neither can Jesus’ body be cut in twain even by death so somehow, mystically, we are all still united. Therefore as we can ask others to pray for us, we can ask those who have died and stand before God to pray for us. By stating this we praise God for the wonderful gift He has given us in this great company of saints that He has blessed us with.

(To be continued tomorrow.)


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this series, Father. I remember in grade school (pre-Vatican II) that I was bored at Mass until 6th grade. That year, every Friday, instead of a regular catechism lesson, we brought our missals to class and Sister Antoinine explained the parts of the Mass to us. I appreciated the Mass so much more after that. Unfortunately, I did not receive the same instruction in the Novus Ordo. This series, pretty much as written, would be appropriate for our day school and PSR students.

ck said...

Love this series. Also love the occasional "old-school" illustrations to help me visualize things.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully, while it is true that the validity or essence of the sacrifice of the Mass is not impacted by which priest is presiding or his level of holiness, it does matter in terms of the guidance and potentially additional graces available to the lay faithful in attendance.
Example, Holy priests who preside with genuine reverence aid the faithful by example in also participating with true revernce.


Lucias Clay said...

I have been enjoying your series and am learning a lot from it.

Your visual puns though are the best. The picture of the Roman Canon. LOL.


Norah said...

Is the Swiss Canon permitted to be used?