Updated: Jun 9, 2021
Welcome to the first written edition of "How Catholic Are You?"! We hope you enjoyed our first video about the Catholic roots of the Devil's Advocate. This time, in the wake of Pentecost, we have a Holy Spirit factoid for you! Shout-out to Patti Flynn-Harris for suggesting this topic.
When asked to pick the most important part of the Mass, there are a LOT of options to choose from. In reality, it's nearly impossible to single out one piece of the greatest prayer known to mankind, but the Consecration is as good a place to start as you'll find. Specifically, there's a moment during the Consecration where the priest extends his hands over mere bread and wine and says the following words:
"Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This is the crux of the Eucharistic Prayer, the beginning of the miracle where simple food is miraculously transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, truly present in the appearance of bread and wine (completed when the priest, in persona Christi, says "This is my body," and "This is my blood"). Incredible! This moment, this crucial point in the Mass, is known as the Epiclesis.
Epiclesis (or Epiklesis, originally) is a Greek term meaning, "calling down." This is important to remember because the priest is asking God very directly to come and sanctify the gifts on His altar. He asks God the Father (Part One) to make the bread and wine holy by sending down the Holy Spirit (Part Two) so that they may become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (Part 3).
It is worth noting that it is the Holy Spirit, sent by God the Father, who transubstantiates the bread and wine. Thus, we are reminded that the Trinity is inherently intertwined with the Eucharist, a timely reminder so soon after the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity!
This is the moment where the veil between Heaven and earth is at its thinnest, the moment where the Lord Himself comes to us in miraculous fashion at each and every Mass. So the next time you're kneeling and praying during the Consecration, remember to pay special attention to the Epiclesis! Say a special thank you to the Lord for the miracle He performs for our salvation every time we come to Him at Mass.