Thursday, April 24, 2008

Eucharist Prayer

There are many facets to the Eucharist prayer. But it is truly the heart of the church and something that should be explained to each child receiving their first communion. As we look at the prayer, we first must understand what Eucharist is, what it means. Most of all the Eucharist is thanksgiving, taken from the Greek word Eucharistia.

As we look at the anatomy of the pray at that is used we see that there are many instances of a Berakah, a Jewish Meal prayer of Thanksgiving. According to Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical, Esslesia DeEucharistisia. The Eucharist has always been a meal and set forth by Christ at the Last Supper. There is definite scriptural Foundation of the Eucharist. It appears in Mt 26:20, Mk 14:17 and Lk 22:14. Additionally, the other Jewish element was the Towdah, or the sacrifice that was handed down by King David after he defeated the Levites.

The Eucharistic pray has some interesting history as well. There are presently 13 Eucharistic prayers with #2 and #3 being the most commonly used. Ironically Eucharist Prayer #1 is what is known as the Roman Canon. It was the only Eucharistic prayer all the way up though 1968. In 1968 they sat down and wrote many of these prayers out. Eucharistic prayer #2 has the oldest roots, however. The words and parts of Prayer #2 date back to the the 300s. The formal roman Canon version of the Eucharistic Prayer was founded in the 5th century and used verbatim during all masses up though 1968, but #2 is the oldest in its content and format.

No discussion of the Liturgy of the Eucharist or Eucharistic Prayer can be looked out without looking at the Liturgy of the Word. The Liturgy of the Word is needed because it helps and prepares is to see Christ in Eucharist. It is definitely needed for the communicant to get the most out of the Eucharist experience. To signify the importance of the Eucharist St. Thomas Aquinas made a very interesting analogy. He said that the Eucharist has the same effect of nourishment on the soul of the person as food and drink has on the health and well being of the person. These only further highlights why we must prepare ourselves to get the most out of the Eucharistic banquet.

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