The new texts of the Roman Missal: part III

The Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Eucharistic prayer

By Father Joseph Scardella
Sun contributing writer

Since Vatican Council II Catholics have been learning that the Mass consists of two principal parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of te Eucharist. These two form an inseparable unity. “The two parts which in some way go to make up the Mass, namely, the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist, are so closely bound up with each other that they amount to one single act of worship” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #56). The wondrous deeds of God on behalf of people which we read about in the Scriptures, we celebrate in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.


The Eucharistic Prayer begins with the Preface. Beginning with an introductory dialogue calling the community to join in praising and thanking God, the Preface sets forth, in the body of its content, a particular reason for praising God on this occasion. It is always some aspect of God’s goodness in creation and redemption.   The Preface Dialogue will change slightly. As we have seen earlier the beginning dialogue changes and, now, the last will change.  This declarative statement “It is right and just”  echoes the sentiment of the human heart, knowing that it is always “right and just” to give praise to God.

Current Translation
Priest:    The Lord be with you.
All:    And also with you.
Priest:    Lift up your hearts.
All:    We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest:    Let us give thanks to the Lord
our God.
All:    It is right to give him thanks
and praise.

New Translation
Priest:    The Lord be with you.
All:    And with your spirit.
Priest:    Lift up your hearts.
All:    We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest:    Let us give thanks to the Lord
our God.
All:    It is right and just.

The Sanctus: Moved by the proclamation in the Preface, the presiding priest invites all to sing the acclamation of praise: the “Holy, Holy, Holy.” The assembly joins with the whole creation, as with one voice the entire communion of saints gives glory to God: “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”  The change from “God of power and might” to “God of hosts” is reminiscent of the words in the Creed, acknowledging that God is God of all created beings; those on earth and the hosts of angels in heaven.  This phrase is a more direct translation from the vision of Isaiah the Prophet (Isaiah 6:3).

The Institution Narrative. The priest narrates what Jesus did at the Last Supper, as he asks God’s Spirit to do for us now precisely what Jesus did at the supper. That is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of “the words of institution” rather than “the words of consecration” (#1362). The action of the Holy Spirit empowers the words of Christ, spoken by the priest, to effect the real presence, under the appearances of bread and wine, of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Current Translation
Take this, all of you, and eat it:
This is my body which will be given
up for you.

New Translation
Take this all of you, and eat of it,
for this is my Body,
which will be given up for you.

The addition of the word “of” in the narrative denotes the fact that the Eucharist is something that is taken and shared.  The action of receiving Communion is a communal act, not an act that takes place for one person alone.

Current Translation
Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting
covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.

New Translation
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.
Do this in memory of me.

There are many changes in the consecratory prayer over the wine.  First is the change from “cup” to “chalice”.  The historical meaning of the word “chalice” is that this is a special cup that is shared by many, more than just a cup for personal consumption.  Second is the change of “everlasting” which may denote that at one time there was not a covenant but now there is; to “eternal” which means the covenant was forever in God’s heart.   Third is the change from “shed” to “poured out.” This is more accurate linguistically. One cannot “shed” a chalice; but a chalice may be “poured out” and we know that Jesus “poured out”  His Blood for us on the cross.
The change from “all” to “many” has a two-fold reason.  First, this is a more accurate translation of the words from the Last Supper as recorded in Matthew’s gospel and secondly, Pope Benedict points out that there are those who have not nor will not accept the salvation won for us in Christ. This is more theologically accurate in showing that we are still a people “on the way” seeking salvation and “all” are not there yet.

The Memorial Acclamations. Immediately following the Institution Narrative, the deacon or the priest extends the invitation for us to proclaim our faith in the action that has taken place on the altar by proclaiming: “The mystery of faith.” Several proclamations may be used, each proclaiming the paschal mystery, namely, the whole plan of God realized in Christ’s death and resurrection and to be brought to completion in his return in glory.  The acclamation, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” has been omitted from the present text because it is a different kind of acclamation; more of a declaration.  Since the style of acclamation should be consistent, this other has been omitted.

The Final Acclamation. An enthusiastic Amen places the seal of the community’s approval on all that has been said and done in the Eucharistic Prayer. The three acclamations of the people (the Holy, Holy, Holy, the Memorial Acclamation, the Great Amen) make abundantly clear that the Eucharistic Prayer, while proclaimed by the priest, is yet the prayer of the entire assembly or, better still, the prayer of Christ and his people.

Father Joseph Scardella is the Diocesan Director of the Office of Liturgy and pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Baldwinsville.

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