Part Three: Liturgy of the Eucharist:
Concluding the Preface with singing “Holy, Holy, Lord God of Holiness…”, the priest begins the proper Eucharistic Prayer.
The most solemn moment of the Holy Mass is the consecration. Up to this moment, what was on the altar is merely bread and wine. Giving praise and thanks to God; the priest, then, prays imposing his hands over the gifts. He calls upon the Holy Spirit to come down and transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ by making the sign of the cross over the gifts. Following this, he recalls the events of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. From this moment, what is on the altar is the Body and Blood of Christ in the appearance of bread and wine. With this transformation, Jesus, the Son of God is truly, substantially and really present on the altar.
One might ask, whether it is possible. Yes, it is possible, because this is done by the power of God. The priest, standing at the altar is only a minister of God, who acts visibly in the person of Jesus Christ. The ONE, who sacrificed himself on the Cross and offered his body and blood as our food has the power to transform the simple bread and wine into his Body and Blood and offer the same as the food for our spiritual life.
After this, the priest pronounces the word of consecration “This is my Body …” and “This is the cup of my Blood…” and raises high for the people to look at the marvelous and memorable Sacrament and adore Jesus Christ. With our physical eyes we see just bread and wine, but with the eyes of faith, we can recognize Our Lord himself. While it is being raised, having recognized Him, we are expected to express our faith in the words of St. Thomas, “My Lord and my God”. I have seen many people utter repeatedly these words of faith either quietly or calmly in their mouth during the elevation.
It is worth remembering what Jesus told St. Thomas, when he proclaimed his faith, after having seen and touched the Risen Lord: “Thomas, you believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
As believers, the priest invites the people saying: “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith” and the people reply, for example, “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.”
To be continued,
Fr. Arul Joseph V.