"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Thursday 29 January 2015


The third and last of these eucharists is the most ample.   Like the first (EP2), it has its own preface, or rather the complete schema of the Christian eucharist in its most clear and most synthetic form.   It makes explicit everything that it implies, but always in the manner of the liturgy of St Basil, by keeping to as moderate and scriptural a language as possible.   It ought to open to all the faithful of today the way to deepening their awareness of all the traditional riches of the Christian eucharist, placed within their grasp in a language which they can perfectly understand. (Louis Bouyer)

(Enrico Mazza)
Opening dialogue
Celebration of the praise of God
Introduction to the Sanctus
Anamnesis of salvation
First epiclesis
Account of institution
Anamnesis in the narrow sense
Second epiclesis

M. Arranz justifiably likens the structure of this prayer to the Syro-Antiochene anaphoras, except, of course, for the first epiclesis which comes from the Alexandrian liturgy.   After the opening dialogue, the prayer praises God for his greatness, that is, for being himself.   Next comes the Sanctus and after it a lengthy thanksgiving for the history of salvation, beginning with the creation.   The first epiclesis asks that  the Spirit would transform the bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord.  This petition leads into the account of institution.   The account is followed by the anamnesis in the narrow sense, which leads, via the prayer of offering into the second epiclesis.   After the intercessions, the trinitarian doxology closes this anaphora as it does all others of the Roman rite.


It is truly right to give you thanks, truly just to give you glory, Father, most holy, for you are the one God living and true, existing before all ages and abiding for all eternity, dwelling in unapproachable light; yet you, who alone are good, the source of life, have made all that is, so that you might fill your creatures with blessings and bring joy to many of them by the glory of your light. And so, in your presence are countless hosts of Angels, who serve you day and night and, gazing upon the glory of your face, glorify you without ceasing. With them we, too, confess your name in exultation, giving voice to every creature under heaven as we acclaim: Sanctus...
(Fr Louis Bouyer)
Note in this text the glorification of God in his transcendent eternity and in the economy of salvation in which the unfathomable goodness of the thrice-holy God is reflected.   Note also the two themes, traditional since Judaism, of light and life: the inaccessible light of the divine glory which belongs only to God, but which is also but one with the life he willed to give the world.   Its most perfect realisation is in his conscious creatures for whom life will be to see God in his own life and to reflect his glory in their praise of his goodness.
(part 2: Louis Bouyer)
The second of the act of thanksgiving after the Sanctus then evokes the history of salvation which despite the original fall, in which the creation of man and his universe seem to have been engulfed, has made a reality, in the redemptive mystery of the incarnate Son, of the primordial design in a manner which surpasses all expectation.
We give you praise, Father most holy, for you are great, and you have fashioned all your works in wisdom and in love. You formed man in your own image and entrusted the whole world to his care, so that in serving you alone, the Creator, he might have dominion over all creatures.
And when through disobedience he had lost your friendship, you did not abandon him to the domain of death. For you came in mercy to the aid of all, so that those who seek might find you. Time and again you offered them covenants and through the prophets taught them to look forward to salvation.
And you so loved the world, Father most holy, that in the fullness of time you sent your Only Begotten Son to be our Savior. Made incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, he shared our human nature in all things but sin. To the poor he proclaimed the good news of salvation, to prisoners, freedom, and to the sorrowful of heart, joy.
To accomplish your plan, he gave himself up to death, and, rising from the dead, he destroyed death and restored life. And that we might live no longer for ourselves but for him who died and rose again for us, he sent the Holy Spirit from you, Father, as the first fruits for those who believe, so that, bringing to perfection his work in the world, he might sanctify creation to the full.

(Enrico Mazza)

A. Humankind and Created Nature
"Thanks" and "glorify" are the key words that introduced the celebration of God.   "Praise" is the verb that controls the narrative of saving events which runs from the Sanctus to the account of the "institution".  The object of praise is the greatness of God which manifests itself in doing everything in goodness and love.   The perfection is described concretely by speaking of human beings, who are defined as God's images.   Because they are his images, dominion over the universe is entrusted to them, and they become his representatives in the world.   But human beings are not automonous in their activity as caretakers of the universe; this activity is a service of God the creator and a form of worship of him.   Consequently, when human beings rule creation, they render to God their own special obedience and service...

B. The Human Being, Image of God

The Anaphora of Basil and the original text of the Anaphora of St James...do not have this theme.   Nonetheless, the idea of the image is certainly is certainly part of the oldest content of James, since redemption is described as the restoration of the image.   Conversely, the fourth anaphora does not describe redemption as the restoration of the image, but the perspective is, nonetheless, the same as in James.   In fact, the concept of restoration flows necessarily from the theology of creation we have been describing.   All this means that there is a surprising theological agreement between Anaphora IV and the Anaphora of James.

If human beings are the images of God, their relation to God is neither merely external nor an afterthought, but is part of their inmost nature and an ontological constituent of their being.

That is why the Eastern tradition can speak of the human person as a participation in the divine nature. Human beings are in their totality shaped and formed in the image of God, and the primordial expression of this likeness is the dignity of the free and responsible human person in whose depths is inscribed the call to communion with God: human beings were created to become "gods".

In defining sin, the Fathers of the Church vacillated between calling it a "loss of the image" and a "loss only of the likeness, with the image remaining intact.   Whatever the description adopted, they were sure that human beings had not in fact completely lost their original relation to God: the image in them is simply dimmed and tarnished.   This means that they can no longer share the divine life by their own powers; but the image of God is still impressed upon them as a demand for a communion with God that has now become impossible, as a summons and restlessness that can never be satisfied.

The fourth Anaphora adopts this anthropology, but leaves it simply implicit or, more accurately, takes it for granted.   It would have been better if the composers had brought it fully into the open and had defined the redemptive work of Christ as a "restoration of the image."   Then the conclusion, that in restoring human beings to God Christ restores them to themselves, would have been very clear and pastorally fruitful.

F.  Doctrine on the Trinity and the prayer

To understand the theology of the fourth anaphora, we must bear in mind that the underlying trinitarian doctrine is of the Eastern type, which can be summed up in the scheme: "to the Father, through the Son in the Holy Spirit."  ...This dynamic interpretation of the divine unity that is taken in the fourth anaphora and in liturgical texts generally is that the prayer in it and the prayer based on it will always involve a relationship at once with the Father and with the Son and with the Spirit.


Therefore, O Lord, we pray: may this same Holy Spirit graciously sanctify these offerings, that they may become the Body + and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the celebration of this great mystery, which he himself left us as an eternal covenant.For when the hour had come for him to be glorified by you, Father most holy, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end: and while they were at supper, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying,
In a similar way, taking the chalice filled with the fruit of the vine, he gave thanks, 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.Therefore, O Lord, as we now celebrate the memorial of our redemption, we remember Christ’s death and his descent to the realm of the dead; we proclaim his Resurrection and his Ascension to your right hand; and as we await his coming in glory, we offer you his Body and Blood, the sacrifice acceptable to you which brings salvation to the whole world.
Look, O Lord, upon the Sacrifice which you yourself have provided for your Church, and grant in your loving kindness to all who partake of this one Bread and one Chalice that, gathered into one body by the Holy Spirit, they may truly become a living sacrifice in Christ to the praise of your glory.
In the epiclesis (=invocation) God is formally asked to send the Spirit that he may transform the bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord - a theme lacking in the Roman canon.  The epiclesis should not be called "invocation of the Spirit" since the prayer is addressed not to the Spirit but to the Father, and it is the Father who sanctifies through the Spirit.
In the anaphoras of the Missal the Eastern epiclesis has been divided into two parts: one (before the account of the institution) asks for the consecration of the bread and wine, and the other (after the anamnesis) asks for the sanctification of the faithful who receive communion.   The solution was adopted for theological and pastoral reasons and represents a return, justifiable or not, to the Alexandrian anaphoral structure.   The latter probably provides the sole conscious liturgical basis for the theological decision made.   Further support is found in some epicletic Post-Sanctus prayers in the non-Roman Latin liturgies, which contain texts that are theologically closer to the position in the Roman Missal.

Independently of the historical basis for the decision, we must recognise the value of the choice made, namely the positive ecumenical significance  it has and the pastoral success it has met with.   It will be the task of catechists to bring out the fact that the sanctification brought about by the words of the Lord is effected by the power of the Holy Spirit.   Just as the Holy Spirit brought about the Incarnation of the Word, so he continues to act in our celebration.  The theme is a traditional one, expecially in the Fathers.


Chavasse's conclusion springs from the homily on the treason of Judas which John Chrysostom delivered on Holy Thursday: "As the words ' Increase and multiply and fill the earth' were said only once but gave our nature its abiding power to reproduce, so the words 'This is my body' and so on, were spoken only once, yet they bring about the perfect sacrifice on every altar-table in the Churches from that moment on until our Saviour's return."

This passage makes it clear that there has been only one consecration in history: that accomplished by Jesus at the Last Supper.   Congar comments: "There was (and there is), in fact, only one Eucharist - the one celebrated by Jesus himself in the night he was betrayed.   Our Eucharists are only Eucharists by the virtue and the making present of that Eucharist. (Enrico Mazza pg 264)

This part of the anaphora reflects our concerns that our celebration should correspond accurately to what the Lord established in the upper room at the Last Supper; and, at the same time, it expresses our certainty that this correspondence and conformity exists.   To use a favourite term in patristic theology, the desire and intention in the account of institution is to bring out the veritas (truth) of the sacrament.

The account of institution is a narrative text and is proclaimed as such; but, it also has a precise theological function and role in the anaphora.

The composition of the new eucharistic prayers brought changes in the text of the account of the institution; these changes were extended even to the Roman Canon.  The phrase "quod pro nobis tradetur" (which was given up for you) was added to the words over the bread.   The enigmatic phrase "mysterium fidei" was removed from the words over the chalice and became the cue for an acclamation of the faithful.  This latter shift created a situation comparable to what we find in the Eastern liturgies which allow ample room for acclamations by the congregations.   The reference to the "holy and venerable hands" of Christ were dropped in the new anaphoras.

Keep in mind that the whole emphasis in the account falls on the two commands "Take and eat," "Take and drink."  The account ends with the mandate of Christ: "Do this in memory of me."   This prescribes two objectives for the disciples: they are to repeat the supper in which they have shared, and they are to be very clear in their minds that what is remembered is no longer the Hebrew Passover but Jesus himself as centre and principal actor of the supper, just as he is the centre and protagonist in all of their lives with him. He is their host at the head of the table, who welcomes and serves his companions, thus symbolising his work for the salvation of the world.   The disciples are to repeat the supper which Jesus has celebrated with them: a supper which is the conclusion and summary of the life of Jesus that has been given for them.

From both the theological and the pastoral standpoints, the anamnesis is the key part of the celebration and must always be seen in connection with the mandate.   When we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we live out its mystery of redemption.   The mystery of redemption is not repeated; what is repeated is the supper, and, in repeating it, we celebrate the memorial of our redemption.
"Both ideas [anamnesis and oblation] contain an objective element as well as a subjective one.   But memorial as well as oblation must be realised in ourselves as our own remembrane and our offering.   Then, and only then, can a 'worship in spirit and truth'in the fullest sense arise to God from our hands." J.A. Jungmann
The liturgy, by its nature, calls for and demands active participation.


 The object commemorated in the anamnesis is the paschal mystery, which is described by the listing the various events which historically constituted it.   But this analytic list is introduced by a synthetic definition of the mystery: "as  we now celebrate the memorial of our redemption."   This summary brings out the unity in the events making up redemption and also makes it clear that the anamnesis is a profession of faith.

A comparative analysis of the anamneses in the various anaphoras reveals a scheme that unfolds in three steps: (1) a transitional element linking the anamnesis with the mandate [Do this in memory of me], (2) a list of the mysteries of Christ, and (3) an offering of the sacred gifts to the Father.   The first two steps are always directed to the offering which flows from them: the commemoration moves towards the offering and the offering proceeds from the commemoration.   There is an ontological connection between the two: admiration, expressed in the anamnesis, is necessarily followed by imitation, expressed in our offering of ourselves just as Christ offered himself.
The offering makes it clear that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, but a sacrifice only as much as it is a memorial of the one sacrifice that was accomplished once and for all on the cross.

The bread and wine,  now the sacrament of the body and blood, are offered to the Father...The fourth anaphora says, "We offer you his Body and Blood, the sacrifice acceptable to you which brings salvation to the whole world."


The object of the word "offer" is both "body and blood" and "sacrifice," but the prayer is not satisfied simply to juxtapose these two objects.   "Sacrifice" stands in apposition to "body and blood" and has the function of interpreting  the latter and explaining just what the characterof the "body and blood" of Christ is here..   There is, thus, a complete identity between the sacrifice of Christ and his body and blood that has been given to us.   "Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ" and "sacrament of the sacrifice of Christ" are one and the same.

We do not understand, therefore, the concern of those who claim that to emphasise the one to draw attention away from the other.   When we emphasise the real presence, we do not neglect the sacrifice or vice versa.  And if we emphasise the memorial, we do not neglect real presence, or vice versa.

Always bear in mind that the liturgy locates "offering" within the process of remembering, where it serves to express the remembering and present it to God. 


The beginning of the epiclesis serves as a link with the preceding prayer of offering.  [It develops further the theme of "the gifts you have given us" - which you won't find in the current English translation which talks about "the oblation of your Church," thus missing the allusion to the ram that Abraham called "the sacrifice that the Lord has provided": through consecration, Christ's body and blood are the sacrifice that God has provided for us to offer.]

No one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him (Jn 6, 44).  Therefore we ask the Father that our encounter with Christ may be salutary and redemptive for us through the action of the Spirit.   If, however, we want a fuller understanding of our epiclesis as an appeal to the Father to send the Spirit, we must begin with the anamnesis, since it is the latter with its commemoration of the ascension that leads us into, and even generates, the epiclesis.

The Letter to the Hebrews shows us that when the redemption wrought by Christ is expressed in Old Testament cultic terms, it has two stages: (1) the bloody self-offering on the altar of the cross; and (2) the entrance into the heavenly sanctuary by means of the resurrection and ascension.  Death, resurrection and ascension, thus constitute a single sacrificial act that has two phases, an earthly and a heavenly.   In his ascension, the Lord "has...entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf."   There, "he always lives to make intercession for them," and his sacrificial blood is "the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel" in interceding with God.

As A. Tarby says, the mention of the ascension in the anamnesis affirms the uniqueness and eternal irrevocableness of the sacrifice offered.   To put it differently, the mention of the ascension reminds us that Christ carries on his work of salvation in an endless intercession based on the cross.   If we ask what the concrete content is of this prayer of Jesus that eternalizes his sacrifice we must turn back to Jn 14, 16-17), "I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth."   The sacrifice of Christ, as an endless prayer offered at the right hand of the Father, is completed when the Father gives the Spirit.  Thus the ascension leads to Pentecost as its fulfilment.   "The ascension is the epiclesis par excellence" because the Son prays to the Father and the result is Pentecost.

The epiclesis of Anaphora IV does not ask explicitly for the descent of the Holy Spirit; rather, it supposes that this has already occurred, and thus reiforces the connection between anamnesis and epiclesis.  This approach to the epiclesis strongly emphasises the identity  between the fruit of the Spirit's action and the fruit of the body and blood of the Lord as made sacramentally visible in the one bread and the one cup.

The fruit in question is the unity of the Church which is to become one body in Christ.   Everyone recalls Augustine's theology of unity, which is summed up in the well-known exclamation:

"O sacrament of piety, O sign of unity, O bond of charity!"


Therefore, Lord, remember now all for whom we make this sacrifice: especially your servant, N. our Pope, N. our Bishop, and the whole Order of Bishops, all the clergy, those who take part in this offering, those gathered here before you, your entire people, and all who seek you with a sincere heart.
Remember also those who have died in the peace of your Christ and all the dead, whose faith you alone have known. To all of us, your children, grant, O merciful Father, that we may enter into a heavenly inheritance with the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, St Joseph, her spouse, and with your Apostles and Saints in your kingdom. There, with the whole of creation, freed from the corruption of sin and death, may we glorify you through Christ our Lord, through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.
The intercessions in Anaphora IV begin with "Therefore" and "now", as attention turns from the sacrifice itself to the sacrifice as it relates to its celebrants, participants and beneficieries.  Among the latter, it specifies the pope and the local bishop, the whole Order of bishops, all the clergy, those who take part in this offering, those gathered here before you [the eucharistic assembly], your entire people, and all who seek you with a sincere heart. 

The mention of "all who seek you with a sincere heart" is a truly inspired addition which echoes an earlier sentence spoken shortly after the Sanctus: "In your mercy you came to the aid of all of them, so that they may seek and find you."   This phrase of the intercessions makes movingly present in our Eucharist all those who have not yet discovered the greatness of the Lord but are journeying towards him, even if without their knowledge.

The last part, just before the doxology, is a prayer for "us," all who celebrate the praises of God and his Christ.   The prayer is that we may share in the ultimate realities, those heavenly realities which we have nostalgically contemplated during the celebration.   This final section develops themes introduced in the Sanctus.   We ask for a "heavenly inheritance," with the saints; and not only with the the saints, for it is the whole of creation, all living things, and all human beings that will become and be a new heaven and a new earth after being freed from the corruption of sin and death.


The final section sums up the anaphora; at the same time, it harks back to the opening thanksgiving and praises God in advance for what has been requested in the anaphora and which, as we know, he has already granted.

The doxology, be it noted, is accompanied by the great elevation of the species.   This elevation makes it emphatically clear that we have reached the high point and completion of the entire prayer, which is expressed in trinitarian form.   In the trinitarian doxology, the anaphora becomes a triumphal proclamation of the divine Name which, when invoked and proclaimed over us, becomes supreme blessing and perfect sanctification (Nm 6: 24-27)

I was forced to make use of Enrico Mazza's "Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite" in this article because I found, to my consternation, that my copy of Louis Bouyer's "Eucharist" has two pages missing, and it is difficult to find another copy in Peru.   

I am sorry that I gave you the article on the "Roman Canon" before this one - my memory was playing me tricks.  However, here is another, written only a few days ago, especially for you, on Eucharistic Prayer IV: and I shall try to give you a new edition on the Roman Canon which should be better than it is, next week.

by Father Louis Bouyer

If in conclusion we juxtapose and compare these three prayers, we will be struck by the consistency with which they give to the Holy Spirit, both in regard to the consecration and the communion, the same broad place that the Eastern liturgies progressively gave him.   This is a new ecumenical factor in the proposing of these texts to the Latin Church, after their so biblical and patristical expressions of sacrifice.   Undoubtedly this will contribute toward a rapprochement with the East as well as toward the reunion  of the Christian West.  It must be added more specifically that these texts bear witness to the fact that if the consecration of th eucharist finds its source in the words of the Saviour, as is attested in the East  by St Cyril of Jerusalem or St John Chrysostom, it becomes effective in each celebration within the prayer of the Church in which she uses these words herself  in order to invoke their accomplishment from the Father through the sole power of his Spirit.   Thus we may hope  that they will contribute towards a reconciliation of those viewpoints (more complementary than opposed) which have for too long divided the theologies of East and West.

The most radical, and at first sight most unusual novelty of the new texts is that they follow up to a certain point the remodelling of the most ancient eucharistic schemes worked out by the West Syrian liturgy, while retaining the ancient and more primitive distinction between the two epicleses as in both the Egyptian and Roman traditions.   This is a point which may possibly be not merely of pedagogical interest, in order to permit Christians familiar with this latter tradition to come to know the complememtary riches of the Eastern tradition.

Editor's note - I apologise for having left out the commentary on Anaphora IV before publishing that on the Roman Canon: I thought I had published it.  However, I am not satisfied with the post on the Roman Canon and shall publish an amplified edition of it next week.  I used Enrico Mazza's work "The Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite" because some pages were missing from Bouyer's book "Eucharist"; but, I think, the result is a happy one.

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