The Eucharist and the Parts of the Mass—Part 4

08-15-2021Fr. Charlie's Homilies & Teaching NotesFr. Charlie Goraieb

The last major dogma of our faith to be promulgated by the Church’s Magisterium or Teaching Authority is today’s celebration of the Assumption of Mary.  The Church’s unwavering belief that Mary was assumed, body and soul into heaven, had been held by all the faithful since the early Church, but was only formally defined in 1950. 

Mary is in heaven, body and soul, sharing the presence of her Son, who is also there in His Resurrected Body.  When we receive the Holy Eucharist, we join Mary in this full communion with her son, the Resurrected Jesus Christ.

Pope St. John Paul II said that Mary is a “woman of the Eucharist” in her whole life. The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery.”  What does he mean by this?

A first example can be taken from the Annunciation when Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood. At that moment she was anticipating within herself what, to a lesser degree, happens sacramentally in every believer who receives under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord's Body and Blood.

As a result, there is a profound analogy between the “Yes” which Mary said in reply to the Angel Gabriel, and the “Amen” which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived “through the Holy Spirit” was “the Son of God” (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin's faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.

A second example can be seen in the last recorded words of Mary in the Bible, found at the wedding in Cana when she tells the servers to: “Do whatever he tells you”. This command applies to us today. Jesus said at the last supper, “Do this in memory of me”. In the John chapter 6 discourse that we have been reading and preaching about these past few weeks, Jesus said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life.”  What Jesus is telling us could not be any clearer.

With the same maternal concern which she showed at the wedding feast of Cana, Mary seems to say to us: “Do not waver; trust in the words of my Son. If he was able to change water into wine, he can also turn bread and wine into his body and blood, and through this mystery bestow on believers the living memorial of his Passover, thus becoming the 'bread of life'”.

If the Eucharist is a mystery of faith which so greatly transcends our understanding as to call for sheer abandonment to the word of God, then there can be no one like Mary to act as our support and guide in acquiring this disposition. In repeating what Christ did at the Last Supper in obedience to his command: “Do this in memory of me!”, we also accept Mary's invitation to obey him without hesitation: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). 

Liturgy of the Eucharist

Accoutrements of the Altar:  Altar Cloth; Candles (2, 4, 6); Crucifix; Corporeal; Chalice; Paten; Water and Wine; Purificator; Missal (have acolyte or deacon put corporeal, sacramentary, chalice and water on altar)

Offertory Procession:  (the second procession); this represents all the people bringing their gifts to the church. 

  1. In earlier centuries, when the whole culture was agrarian, the people baked the bread and made home-made wine and brought that for the offering.
  2. They also brought food from their gardens or orchards and livestock to be offered to the priest for his own use and for him to give away to the poor who were in need. These were all brought forward during the offertory.  We’re no longer an agrarian society, barter society, so the main gift you bring is to offer a portion of your income to the church so that we can buy the bread and wine and cover the parish expenses.  (Catholics are called to give 5% of their income to their church and 5% to other works of charity)

First Elevation (there are four)—priest presents these gifts to God, recognizing that because of his love for us, he allows us to offer true worship, using very ordinary things (bread, wine, water).  This is the Incarnational principle. 

Principle to Keep in Mind:  many of the gestures and rites originated for very practical reasons, but as time went on the church saw a deeper spiritual meaning in them.

Two Examples:

  1. Commingling of Water and Wine—it was originally done to dilute the viscous, heavy, home-made wine so that no one would get inebriated.
    1. But then the church began to see that this gesture was an excellent representation of the Humanity (water) and Divinity (blood) of Christ. In John 19:34, when the Soldier pierced the side of the Lord, out flowed water and blood.  So, when we mix water and wine, we are declaring the mystery of the Incarnation—the Divinity and Humanity of Jesus Christ.
  2. Washing of Hands—originally done because of the dirt and soil that were on the fruits and vegetables offered.
    1. Now, it’s done to symbolize the priest’s desire to be cleansed of his sins in order to better celebrate the sacrament.

Prayer over the Gifts

Invitation: “Let us pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours…” (all of you are participating in the sacrifice, by offering the suffering and crosses you bear to the Father, in union with the Sacrifice of Jesus’ own body. 

After your response, the priest recites the Offertory Prayer The prayer which concludes the preparation of the gifts.

The Eucharistic Prayer

  • There are 10 Eucharistic Prayers that are used at various times. There are shorter ones that can be used at weekdays in ordinary time; longer ones used on Sundays, Solemnities and major Feast days and in Christmas and Easter time.
  • This Prayer is the most solemn part of the Mass
  • Every Eucharistic Prayer has 8 components. All eight will be listed in the notes from this homily that we will post online.  I want to emphasize three of them:
    • Epiclesis—when the priest extends his hands over the bread and wine, he is calling down the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine. We ring the bells to call your attention to this moment.
    • Narrative of the Institution and the Words of Consecration—with these words the priest is imitating Jesus when the Lord gave us the Eucharist at the Last Supper. It is now that the bread and wine are truly the Body and Blood of Jesus.
      • This is also the Second Elevation.
    • Final Doxology—the third elevation. This is a solemn proclamation of the presence of the Trinity in the celebration of the Mass. The words of the Doxology are said only by the priest, but everyone is asked to then proclaims their unity of mind and heart by singing “

 The 8 parts of every Eucharistic Prayer

  1. Thanksgiving—Preface with the dialogue (…The Lord be with you….). There are 156 different prefaces to choose from.  The Preface ends with the Sanctus—Holy, Holy (it comes from Isaiah 6: 2-3)
  2. Acclamation
  3. Epiclesis—when the priest extends his hands and calls down the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine
  4. Narrative of the Institution and the Consecration—this is the Second Elevation (followed by the Memorial Acclamation)
  5. Anamesis—a holy recalling of the saving deeds of God. His past deeds become present and accomplish today their effects in our lives.
  6. Offering—The Church offers the Body and Blood to God the Father. This is the sacrificial character of the Mass.
  7. Intercessions—we pray for the Pope, our Bishop and his Auxiliary, the deceased and those present at the Mass. This reflects that the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the whole Church—the Church Triumphant (in Heaven) the Church Suffering (in Purgatory) and the Church Militant (here on earth). 
  8. Final Doxology—the fourth elevation. This is a solemn proclamation of the presence of the Trinity in the celebration of the Mass.  Everyone one then proclaims their unity of mind and heart by singing “