Institution Narrative

What is this part of the Mass?
Midway through the Eucharistic Prayer the priest prays that the Holy Spirit will make our gifts we offer, the bread and wine, holy so that they become the Body and Blood of Christ. He then recounts the story of the very first Mass – the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. We call this telling of the Last Supper at Mass, the Institution Narrative. It is the story of Jesus instituting the Eucharist. Every time we come to Mass we remember what Jesus did for us and what he asked us to do. This is a critical part of the Mass and very dear to the heart of Catholics. Pay close attention here – you are about to witness firsthand a great miracle! Usually, you can even hear the people in church become quieter and more attentive as the priest speaks the words of Christ, as he lifts the consecrated host and chalice, and genuflects in adoration to the Real Presence of Christ. Some of the words you will hear at this time will be changing.
What do we say now and what is changing?
As the priest lifts the consecrated host, he will now say: “Take this, All of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you.”  As you can see, the only difference is the insertion of the words ‘of’ and ‘for’. The meaning is the same, but the new translation more fully expresses the words of St Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:17 when he states that we all share ‘of’ the same bread. By taking of one bread, we become one body in Christ.

When the priest elevates the chalice, some more words will be changed: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.” Choosing the word chalice instead of cup emphasizes that this vessel is no ordinary cup. Indeed, it highlights the sacrificial character of this vessel which holds the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, shed for us out of love. The change of “for all” to “for many” maintains the words of Christ as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (26:28) and Mark (14:24), thus making the Scriptural reference more obvious. At the same time, it does not change our Catholic understanding that Christ is the Savior of the whole world and that his sacrifice was made for all people (see John 6:51 and the Catechism 606-623).The use of the word ‘eternal’ instead of ‘everlasting’ in the new translation is significant because in English, everlasting means something like…long-lasting. It refers to something within time that will eventually come to an end. However, eternal cannot be measured in time. God’s covenant with us cannot be measured and has no end.

Reverence:  Since we are making changes in the prayers, how about we also work to put more reverence into the Mass as well?  In this part of the Mass, the Institution Narrative, we should show more reverence by bowing our heads head when the priest elevates the host and chalice. Silently proclaim the words of St. Thomas: "My Lord and my God."

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