TRIDUUM: Easter Sunday
TRIDUUM: Easter Sunday

Happy and joyous Easter! 
On this most holy of days we review the central prayer of our Mass: The Eucharistic Prayer.

The institution narrative is the part of the Eucharistic Prayer which describes the words and actions of Jesus at the Last Supper.

Our Roman rite knew but one Eucharistic Prayer for centuries: The Roman Canon.  (We currently have thirteen different Eucharistic Prayers approved for use.)  The original text was probably in Latin and can be traced to the middle of the 4th century, used by both Pope Damascus I and by Saint Ambrose.  Before this time each community used its own prayer of praise and thanksgiving, sometimes improvised by the presider on the spot.  After undergoing a variety of incarnations the prayer was stabilized and edited during the time of Pope Gregory I  (590-604).

The Eucharistic prayer is rooted in the Jewish meal prayers of thanksgiving, the Berekah, with a short prayer over the bread and a longer one over the wine.  Jesus acted as a typical Jewish host when he blessed the bread and wine at the Last Supper.  These seven actions he performed provide the structure of every Eucharistic prayer:

He took bread
Offered a prayer of blessing over the bread
Broke the bread
Distributed the bread
Took a cup of wine
Offered a prayer of blessing over the cup
Distributed the wine

Of the Eucharistic Prayer we believe that “it is clearly the central moment of this Lord’s Day gathering.  Over the altar and the gifts of bread and wine, all God’s saving deeds are remembered; all is held up in praise of God, all is asked of God.  The Catholic sensibility to sacrament, to the presence of God, is never more joyous, never more challenging.  We need to take care in our thinking and in our language: When we say ‘Eucharist,’ we mean this whole action of the presider and the assembly.  That is the Eucharist whose grace and powerful mystery can transform us and, in us, the world.” Sources: Gather Faithfully Together, #67 and Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1368.     (March 27, 2005)

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