(A): THE PREFACE
Gratitude is an attitude of the heart that makes life a beatitude! Our whole life is meant to be a continual act of praising and thanking the Lord.
Eucharist comes from the word, “Eucharistia”, which means thanksgiving. The whole Liturgy is oriented towards praising, adoring and thanking the Lord. After having offered the petitions and gifts to the Lord, we now come in humble thanksgiving to the Lord.
Have we ever tried to make a list of the blessings and gifts, we have received from the Lord? Right from our birth, to the present moment….? This list will be too long, isn’t it? This analogy will help us to understand this part of the Mass called the Preface.
The Church enlists (as per the Liturgical Season or the theme) the various and manifold ways in which the Lord has worked in human history. In this Holy Act, we find that the list is endless, and so we also call upon the Angels and Saints.
Thus We (the Church Militant), seeking intercession for the Faithful Departed (the Church Suffering) join the beautiful choir of the saints (Church Triumphant) and angels, in a wonderful communion, singing Holy Holy, Holy to the Most High God! Yes, its a moment of intense praise and Divine worship!
Let’s grow in understanding the various phases of this Beautiful Preface:
- The Lord be with you: The Priest invokes the Lord’s presence, and the people of God, in fellowship, pray for the Priest
- Lift up your hearts: Our minds and hearts need to transcend our human worries, concerns and troubles, and be raised in heavenly contemplation.
- Let us give thanks to the Lord our God: An ancient prayer, which renders the highest praise and thanks to God, who is the source of all things in our life!
The long prayer of the Preface often goes unnoticed and without attention; and yet, it is a treasure of deep meditation and worship. Is it possible for me to try to reflect or meditate on any of the Prefaces, which can be found in the Holy Missal? This can make the Liturgy more meaningful and personal.
Do I really lift up my heart to the Lord and render Him my thanks, or is it mere lip-service that I engage myself in?
Can I become more aware of the heavenly Angels and Saints, along with Blessed Mamma, as we approach the crescendo of our Eucharistic Celebration?
Most Glorious Lord, we delight in the manifold graces you bestow on us. You give us the privilege to have a foretaste of Your Heavenly Glory, during the moments of the Preface. Stir our hearts in devotion, that your spectacular magnificence, that we celebrate in these moments of the Liturgy, may spur us on to live a committed Christian Life, Amen!
(B): THE CONSECRATION
The Consecration during the Liturgy, is the most solemn and intense moment of the Sacrifice.
Phil 2:6 says, “Though He was in the form of God, He emptied Himself….” The Lord, now empties Himself, and takes the form of the Bread and Wine…really, wholly and substantially present!
This is the Eucharist.
The Sacrifice of the Last Supper.
And to understand, appreciate and grow deeper in this intense action, we need to get united with the Spirit at the Last Supper and the Redeeming Moments of Mount Calvary!
Let’s dwell on the parts of these beautiful moments:
- Epiclesis: The portion where the power of the Holy Spirit is invoked, so that the gifts of bread and wine, may be transformed into Divine Species.
- The Words of the Institution: The words of Christ Himself, wherein the bread and wine, are transformed to His Body and Blood.
- The Proclamation: The Church joyfully proclaims the wonders and providence of the Lord’s works of Salvation, in the mystery of the Faith.
- Anamnesis and Offering to the Father. : The Church recalls the memory of Christ, especially His Blessed Passion, Death and Resurrection. Christ, the Spotless Victim, is offered to the Father, and the people also pledge their lives, in union with the Redeemer.
- Intercessions: The Priest offers the prayers of Intercession for the entire Church Militant and the Church Suffering and for, in union with the Church Triumphant – our Blessed Mamma and all the saints
- Doxology: A solemn moment of praise and adoration to the Triune God, concluded by a triumphant and affirming shout of Amen – so let it be!
Am I able to unite myself with the Spirit of the Last Supper and join with the suffering and agony that Jesus – the priest and victim, underwent, through the moments from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Mount Calvary?
Do I pray during the Epiclesis, that the Holy Spirit may fill my mind and heart and life, that I too may be transformed, like the bread and wine, into the life and likeness of Jesus, our Saviour?
Am I able to unite myself more intensely with the Words of the Consecration… “This is my body”, and “This is my blood”, and be willing to pledge my life too, in sacrifice & in love?
Do I, while reciting the Mystery of Faith, proclaim with conviction God’s saving mystery?
The time after the proclamation, when the Priest says the words of Anamnesis and Intercessions, is often lost in our thoughts and concerns. Am I able to keep up the spirit of intense prayer and offering ourselves entirely to God’s loving hands?
Do I pray the Doxology and Amen with a deep sense of certainty, passion and fervour, with a sense of deep joy and elation in the heart?
O Awesome God, who make yourself present on human altars, give us the grace, to prepare our hearts more fervently for the moments of Consecration. Help us to pledge our lives, with the host and the wine, that we too may be transformed into a living Eucharist, giving life and love to our brothers and sisters, Amen.