St John's Q&A

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We have a new bishop!

Yesterday, the Archdiocese celebrated a beautiful occasion: the ordination of a new auxiliary bishop. Bishop Barry Knestout’s ordination was especially meaningful to our local Church because he is a native priest and son of the Archdiocese. Archbishop Wuerl was the main celebrant. There were several Cardinals, many bishops, over 100 priests, and many of Bishop Knestout’s family, friends, and former parishioners present. We wish our new bishop the best!

The program for the Mass explained many aspects of the liturgy. The description of Eucharistic Prayer I was especially pertinent because we hear it much during the Christmas octave (eight days of Christmas). Many of you hear me use this EP on solemnities during the year. I use it on each solemn feast not only because I find it to be the most solemn of the EP’s, but also because there are inserts in the prayer specific to the feast. I use it at many weddings, too, because there is an insert pertaining to the couple.

Here is the explanation from yesterday’s program:

“The text of Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman canon), based on even earlier Greek models, had assumed its present form by the time of Pope Gregory the Great (590-604), though various popes through Blessed Pope John XXIII changed or added parts. It is essentially a series of short prayers, each of which once concluded with Amen, leading to the Great Amen that we sing to conclude the whole Prayer…

Speaking in the name of all of us (“We come to you, Father”), (the celebrant) prays that the gift we offer in sacrifice will be found acceptable because it comes ‘through Jesus Christ’. He then explains that we offer this sacrificial gift for the whole Church and for those particular people we wish to remember at (this) Mass. We offer them in union with Mary, the apostles, and all the saints…

Invoking the Holy Spirit…(the celebrant) asks God to let the bread and wine ‘become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord’. Then, using the words that Jesus used at the Last Supper, he consecrates the elements…

We then remember Jesus’ great act of sacrifice in his passion and the affirmation of his gift in the resurrection and ascension. Because we are united to that mystery in the Eucharist, we offer ‘this holy and perfect sacrifice; the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation.’ We ask God to accept our offering as he accepted the pure offerings of Abel, Abraham, and Melchisedech. We ask that our offering may be taken to heaven, so that we may be united with Christ, the perfect offering, the Lamb ‘standing as if slain’ before the throne of God, to whom all creation sings (Revelation 5:6-14)…

Also, the program gave an excellent synopsis of the Communion Rite:

“The Communion Rite contains five key elements. The Lord’s Prayer unites us in the prayer that Jesus taught us. The rite of peace unites us as brothers and sisters in the Lord in response to the Lord’s command: ‘If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother (or sister) has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go first to be reconciled with your brother (or sister), and then come and offer your gift’ (Matthew 5:23). The fraction rite prepares the consecrated elements for distribution to the faithful; symbolically, it is a reminder both of Christ’s Body broken on the cross and his Blood poured out for us. The procession to share in sacramental Communion is the heart of this rite. In coming to Communion, the faithful receive Christ and offer themselves to Christ. After a period of silence, the rite concludes with a brief ‘collect’ prayer that sums up our hope for full communion with God in Christ now and for all eternity.”


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