Sorry to miss a few weeks in the bulletin, but thank you for your prayers for our group travelling to Washington DC for the Pro-Life Trip a few weeks ago. Now where were we…
The next part of Eucharistic Prayer I is the epiclesis, or as it’s called in EPI, the Quam Oblationem. The epiclesis, as has been mentioned before, is the point in our prayer where we pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the gifts presented at the altar, that they might be transformed into the Eucharist. At this point, the priest extends his hands over the offering, which is typically a symbol of transference, like the Holy Spirit descending on the gifts. Incidentally, it is thought to be a similar gesture to when ancient Jewish priests would pray over the scapegoat for the Day of Atonement, as described in Leviticus 16. See? You learn something new every day!
The prayer reads, “Be pleased, O God, we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every respect; make it spiritual and acceptable, so that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.” But what does it mean for the gifts to be “spiritual and acceptable”?
Basically, we’re praying at this point in the Mass that the gifts become more than what they are as they are brought forward to the altar, more than just common foods. This makes sense from our end in that we want it to be a sincere spiritual offering of ourselves. Like birthday gifts to your Aunt Elvira, we strive to give the gifts at the altar not because we have to, but because we want to!
More importantly, however, we pray that it become spiritual and acceptable from God’s end. We all know that normal foods have effects on us. Good foods make that next trip to the gym energizing. Bad foods make it…less so. When we ask God to make our offerings spiritual, we ask him to transform it so as to have effects in us – not common effects like carbohydrates or dietary fiber, but spiritual effects like the forgiveness of sins, the strengthening of our will to do God’s will, an increased love for God and our neighbor, and of course, eternal life.
We supply the offerings, but only God’s power given through the Holy Spirit can make these offerings have the effects we long for, and only God can make that offering something acceptable to himself!