A reflection on the Eucharistic Prayer, part of a series of reflections on the parts of the Mass
Medieval mystic and writer Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer I ever prayed was ‘Thank you’ that would be enough.” In fact, that prayer of thanks is the very center of the mass, and gives it the name that we often use for the mass these days, the Eucharist. Eucharist is the Greek word for thanks.
And so the Eucharistic prayer is built around thanks, namely thanks for human salvation by Christ. If you pay attention to its words, you will always hear some description of how we have been saved. There are three main parts to that recounting. The first is called the epiclesis, the calling down of the Holy Spirit on the gifts of bread and wine. It is then that the presider extends his hands over the gifts in the ancient sign of invoking the Spirit. The second part is the recounting of the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, known as the Words of Institution. It is during this recounting that the presider holds up the bread and wine transformed into the body and blood of Christ for the assembly to adore. The third main part of the prayer is the Anamnesis, or the remembering. Here the presider specifically recounts the main points of Salvation History.
So it is that each time we celebrate the mass, the central act of our faith, we give thanks to God for God’s goodness to us. This says to us that the very core of who we are is a people of thanksgiving. How transformative would that be for each of us, and for all of us as a community, if our prayer always began in what we are thankful for? In gratitude? Try it for a while. praying not for God to do something for us, but praying “Thank You” for all that God has already done.