"Un Ti Morceau"

"A Little Something," mini-lessons and reflections by our pastor, Father Paul Counce

The Eucharistic Prayer: Institution Narrative

Published November 03, 2013 by Fr. Paul Counce

In my last ti morceau, I mentioned that there are three most impor­tant parts of the great Eucharistic Prayer in the Mass. One is the epiclesis, when the Holy Spirit is “called down” upon the gifts of bread and wine. The second of course is the consecration, also called the “institution nar­rative,” when Christ Jesus’ own words are repeated; He identifies Himself with the bread and wine to the point of changing it into His own Sacred Body and Precious Blood.

Before we get to the third important part, let’s spend some time on the consecration itself. At this time at Mass, the priest most closely identifies himself with Christ (our supreme High Priest). By reciting the solemn words of Jesus – “This is My Body . . . This is My Blood . . .” – the priest “stands in” for the Lord Himself as the miraculous change in the gifts hap­pens.

This is one of the highlights of priestly ministry, to be sure. To be able to “play the part of” the Lord Jesus in such a cri­tic­ally important role is something I’ve always found very humbling and very moving. I’m sure every other priest of the Church feels the same way. The Latin phrase used for rep­resenting the Lord like this is “in persona Christi,” and at these times it’s to be hoped that people indeed do see and hear Christ, and not just me or some other priest. Of course, the best way to ensure this is to be Christ-like in every other way, and not just in my prayer at Mass!

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