Our Eucharistic Prayers are modeled on the formal Grace at Meals Jesus offered at the Last Supper.

Sunday, 7/29/12

There was a German Jesuit, Josef  Jungmann, who searched out  the facts dealing with the Eucharist from the Last Supper and down through the centuries. From his book on the Eucharist I have come to an appreciation of my daily Mass that is a little out of the ordinary. Let me tell you how it goes.

At the Last Supper Jesus as the host led the Apostles through an ancient “Grace at Meals” that was called the Brakah. Although the host was not allowed to use the same words each time, his Brakah always had to consist of three parts. The Greek name for those parts was Anamnesus, Epiclesus, and Eucharistesas. My name for them is “The Calling to mind Prayer,” and “The Calling Down Prayer,” and the “Pleasing Gift.”

In the accounts of the Eucharistic Prayer that St. Justin left us in 160 A.D. and that St. Hippolytus left us from 210 A.D. we see that the Church had continued using Our Lord’s Brakha from the Last Supper as the model for its Eucharistic Prayers.

The celebrant began by asking people to call to mind God’s favors, especially how he favored them by letting them take part in this heavenly meal.

Secondly, the celebrant asked God to send down his Spirit both to unite the diners and to make them worthy of speaking to him.

In the third place the celebrant spoke of how Jesus was again with them, making himself into a pleasing gift to God.

But, that was only half of the third part, of the pleasing gift. The Mass was of use to the diners only if they joined Jesus as part of the pleasing gift.

Our word “Eucharist” means “Pleasing gift.” Attending Mass is of no use to anyone who does not unite with Jesus by making him or herself into a part of the Eucharist with Jesus.

We are told of the importance of believing in the real presence. It is important, but it does you no good to believe, if you don’t join Jesus by making yourself part of the Eucharist, part of the pleasing gift to God.

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