When I was in Scouting, one of the greatest feelings on a campout was waking up refreshed (which hardly ever happened), unzipping the “door” of the tent, and stepping out into the cool morning air. I remember that you had to be careful in the way you set up the tent overnight, not wanting any clothes or bags to touch the walls of the tent, or they would be soaking wet in the morning from the heavy dew. The morning dew was a beautiful sight, lightly shining in the sun on the grass.
So how did dew make the new translation of Eucharistic Prayer II? It reads, “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall…” For most of the priests I know, this was one of the changes that they would always joke about because it stood out so much! Dew seems like kind of a strange analogy for us today, but it’s important that we take a look at how the people of ancient Israel viewed it.
Dew was actually something important in the Bible, and has numerous references from the Psalms and Isaiah. In the arid climate of Israel, dew was a major source of moisture for the vegetation in the desert, and therefore was a source of life. Dew is also something that doesn’t fall from the sky like rain during a thunderstorm, but appears seemingly unseen from an unknown source.
The Book of the Prophet Hosea writes: “I (God) will be like the dew for Israel: he (Israel) will blossom like the lily…his splendor will be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.” (14:5) I think this is the image that our Eucharistic Prayer is getting at, asking that the Holy Spirit come down like dew upon us and upon our gifts placed at the altar. Like the dew in the desert, God’s grace is a gift to us, giving us that nourishment, refreshment, and life that we need to survive.
This is especially important for those of us who find ourselves in a spiritual desert. There are certainly times of dryness and aridity in prayer, where no matter what we seem to do, our prayer feels lifeless. It seems rather counterintuitive, but the best thing we can do when we struggle with dryness in prayer is to pray more. We need to keep praying for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and re-energize us, drawing sustenance from the dewfall of the Spirit like a desert flower. When you receive the Eucharist at Mass, pray for the energizing and the refreshing power of the Holy Spirit to pour into your heart, and give you life to the full!