Eucharistic prayer, first five parts

By Editor

The heart of the matter

Last time, we considered the changing style of the proper prayers prayed by the priest. Today, we focus on the center and high point of the Mass — the eucharistic prayer (GIRM, n. 78) in which the whole assembly joins with Christ in offering his sacrifice and in praising God.

The eucharistic prayer has nine different parts. We begin with

At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his Passion,

    He took bread, and, giving thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying,
    “Take this, all of you and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you.”
    In a similar way, when the supper was ended, He took the chalice and once more giving thanks,
    He gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this all of you and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

    The translators chose “chalice” rather than “cup” because a chalice is a particular kind of vessel used for Communion and shared with others who drink from it. Christ’s blood is poured out. It means the same as “being shed,” but the imagery of pouring refers to both his blood poured out on the cross and what is poured into and from the chalice.

    Hearing that Christ’s blood was poured out for many, may again, give us pause. The church has always taught that Christ’s love and redemptive death was for everyone. This change in text does not change that belief, nor does it attempt to restrict salvation.

    The change from “for all” to “for many” is the exact wording in the Gospels. One might ask why the Scripture writers chose “for all” so many years ago. We aren’t certain. Perhaps it is because while Christ died for all, not all accept the gift of redemption. In any case — there is no change in theology here.

    Next issue: The last four sections of the eucharistic prayer: the memorial acclamation, the offering, the intercessions, and the doxology.

    Sr. Rehrauer is the diocesan director of Evangelization and Worship.