Liturgy of the Eucharist – Part 2

April 2nd, 2011  |  Published in New Roman Missal

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday we began discussing the Liturgy of the Eucharist, namely the Presentation of the Gifts. Addressed in that column were the changes to the prayers the priest recites as he lifts up the elements of bread and wine. After those prayers he quietly recites two prayers, washes his hands and then invites the congregation to pray with him, and it is in this prayer that we see the next revision. Standing at the altar he extends his hands and says:

Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters),
that my sacrifice and yours
may be acceptable to God,
the almighty Father.

The current translation has the priest saying “our sacrifice,” and the revised translation has “my sacrifice and yours.” It’s a minor change, but it communicates the reality that all who are gathered to celebrate and offer the Mass do so in different ways. The priest does so on behalf of the people in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) by virtue of his ordination. This does not mean, however, that you, the congregation, are spectators. As the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the 2nd Vatican Council states, the faithful, “through a good understanding of the rites and prayers, should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. . . Offering the immaculate victim, not only through the hands of the priest but also together with him, they should learn to offer themselves” (SC, n.48).

This duty to join in the action of the priest is acknowledged by the people when after the priest extends the above invitation, the congregation stands and says:

May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands
for the praise and glory of his name,
for our good and the good of all his holy Church.

The word “holy” has been added as a reminder that the Church belongs to Christ and is founded on the grace Christ gives her.

Following this dialogue between the priest and congregation comes the “Prayer over the Gifts.” This prayer along with the opening prayer or collect and the “Prayer after Communion” is a part of the prayers of the day that change all depending on the liturgical celebration. As with the opening prayer, the text of these prayers will be different, expressing a deeper, richer content.

Fr. John