Eucharistic Prayer I: The Epiclesis
We have arrived at the Epiclesis of the first Eucharistic Prayer. Epiclesis simply means “the calling upon the Holy Spirit.” Here, the priest speaks directly to the Holy Spirit and calls upon Him to change the bread and wine (the gifts/offering) into the Body and Blood of Christ. He begins by saying, “Be pleased, O God, we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every respect; make it spiritual and acceptable, so that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acting in the person of Christ (persona Christi), the priest is now ready for the words of consecration and recalls the words and actions of Jesus at the Last Supper (see Mark 14:22-24; Matt 26:26-28; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor 11:23-25).
At this point we’re all truly present at the Last Supper with Christ and His disciples, participating with them and all the angels and saints. We hear the words, “On the day before he was to suffer he took bread in his holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks he said the blessing, broke the bread 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.” This is the very heart of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is where we experience a true miracle taking place. This is the time to place all your prayer intentions, concerns, worries, etc., with Christ as He is being offered to His Father.
The priest continues with the transubstantiation of the wine, “In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands, and once more giving you thanks, he said the blessing and gave the chalice to his disciples, saying: 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.” The priest then elevates the chalice to show the faithful that consecration has taken place.
Again, I cannot express enough how powerful this moment in the Mass really is. If we could see our guardian angels with our physical eyes we would see them face down on the ground. The angels are higher than us in the order of creation yet even they cannot receive our Lord in the Eucharist! But we can, and we must never take it for granted.