The Design of the Prayer of Consecration and the Words of Institution.
Today in our catechesis we look at the heart of the eucharistic liturgy which is the Eucharistic Prayer. Since 1662 the Prayer Book has referred to this prayer as the Prayer of Consecration. This sacred prayer enshrines the “words of institution” spoken by Jesus in the Upper Room. These words are so important because they make present the sacrifice of Christ. The sacrifice began when He offered Himself as the proper sacrifice begun in the Upper Room and consummated on the Cross with His final words, “It is finished”; and He bowed His head and offered up His spirit.” (John 19:30)
When these words are spoken by the priest “take, eat, this is My Body…” and “take, drink, this is My Blood” along with the calling down of the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine they are consecrated the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.
This beautiful Prayer of Consecration has four divisions:
- In the first division God the Father is addressed and the atoning sacrifice of Christ is acknowledged as the Father’s gift to every person. It makes the crucial statement that Jesus’ death on the Cross was not a Roman execution but it was Jesus offering Himself to the Father as the “full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world.” It declares that what was accomplished by God in this sacrifice is today found in the Church through the perpetual offering of His precious death and sacrifice, until His coming again. (BCP 334).
- The second division makes us present to the mysteries given on holy Thursday night through Good Friday at 3:00 pm. These mysteries are our Lord’s Body and Blood and all the benefits of His passion. These mysteries continue to cleanse, renew and transform the Church as she navigates through time. (BCP 335)
- The third division speaks directly to our heavenly Father. We offer to Him our selves, our souls and bodies as a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice. We want to be filled with His “grace and heavenly benediction,” and be united to Him so intimately “that He may dwell in us and we in Him.” (BCP 336 and Jn 14:20)
- The closing division acknowledges that God hears and answers this prayer not because of our works or worthiness but because of the His love. The closing doxology is the climax of the service, when the priest holds up the consecrated bread and wine and proclaim they are the Body and Blood of Jesus. This is the sacrifice of glory and honor offering all things said into the very mystery of the Holy and Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (BCP 336)
The Prayer of Consecration recalls salvation history anticipating the restoration of man and all creation, the seen and unseen alike to the sovereignty of God.
This prayer is offering Jesus to the Father through the words and gestures of the priest for the reparation of sins, in order to strengthen the mission and unity of the Church, so she can be led by holiness to deeper salvation, and we offer prayers for the souls who have died.
After the Great AMEN by the people we together pray the Lord’s Prayer. This is the perfect prayer Jesus taught us.