Week 3 - Liturgy of the Eucharist
Presented at all Masses the weekend of January 31- February 1
Following the Prayers of the Faithful which concludes the Liturgy of the Word we transition to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. There is a lot of movement at this point in the Mass. The altar (our table) will be set, we will have our collection, and our gifts will be brought forth.
The word ‘Eucharist’ comes from the Greek language meaning: to give thanks. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian faith. It is what feeds us and strengthens us to go out into the world to do God’s work-- to be Christ for one another. Each week we bring ourselves back to this summit, to give thanks, and be nourished once again.
At this time of Presentation and Preparation of the Gifts, members of our faith community, bring forth bread and wine, the same elements that Christ took into his hands at the Last Supper. The rite of carrying up the gifts of bread and wine connects us with the traditions of the early Church when people brought bread and wine to their celebration which is a model for our mass today. We also bring forth our monetary contributions, the symbol of our daily labor. We offer the work of our hands and heart, the expression of our love and responsibility for the world and the Church. We symbolically offer ourselves, to be transformed.
When the bread and wine are placed upon the altar, the priest takes the bread and asks for God’s blessing. The chalice, now filled with wine, is prepared. A drop of water is mingled with the wine as the following words from scripture are silently said, “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” The meaning of this symbolic action is twofold: First, we are reminded of the water that flowed from the side of Christ as he hung upon the cross, and second, the simple act of pouring water into the wine, along with the prayer, is a synthesis of the whole mass and of all salvation history; the divine nature of Christ mingles with our human nature to save us.
The preparation concludes with the priest symbolically washing his hands, as he silently says “Lord, wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” We then join our voices as one, acknowledging that this sacrifice is for the glory of God’s name and the good of all God’s holy Church.