The Secret Prayers of the Mass: The Elevations

The next “Secret Prayer” of the Mass is actually not a pre-scripted part of the Mass at all.  It’s actually a devotional prayer, meaning that this particular prayer is not required at all, and you won’t find it written down in any official documents, but it has been practiced for many years, and might be helpful for one’s own participation at Mass.

I want to focus in on the most important part of the Eucharistic prayer, which is obviously (if you’ve been following along on this little trek) the Institution Narrative, when we recount how Jesus took the bread and wine and offered them as his own Body and Blood.  At the elevations of these precious gifts, there’s a little pause, when you might be tempted to think back to what your shopping list looks like or to what snow cone stand you’re planning to take Fr. Grosch.  But in the long history of the Church, there have been a few people who have felt that same temptation, and wanted to focus, so they said these little devotional prayers.

The one to which I was introduced as a seminarian is, at the elevations, the simple prayer, “My Lord and my God!”  This is such a simple, yet profound prayer that speaks volumes.  You probably recognize it from the post-resurrection story of St. Thomas the Apostle’s encounter with Jesus.  This was a man who’s faith was struggling, and who maybe struggled to believe what his friends were telling him – that Jesus was alive.  But then he was presented face-to-face with the truth of Jesus’ presence with him, and he recognized Jesus and spoke those beautiful words, “My Lord and my God!”

Many times, you and I might find ourselves just going through the motions at Mass.  It happens to everyone, even priests!  Maybe we lose focus, or maybe we struggle to believe what it is that the Church is trying to share with us: that the bread and wine are transformed into Jesus’ Body and Blood.  Maybe you’re at a point in your life where God feels so far away.

But whatever we’re feeling or thinking, the elevations of the Eucharist are invitations to refocus.  Especially when joined with this short prayer, they are invitations to place ourselves in the shoes of St. Thomas, or the disciples on the road to Emmaus, or the apostles hidden in the upper room out of fear.  Like all of those figures, we are present in God’s midst, encountering him in a physical way in the Eucharist.

Even if you’re not quite at that point yet, praying this little prayer or a similar one can help to refocus and remind yourself of what’s going on.  I hope that helps!

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