We Praise God With The Angels And Saints By Singing The Sanctus
The singing of the Sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Holy”) manifests that the earthly church gathered now in worship join in praising God with the angels and saints in the heavenly Jerusalem as portrayed in the Book of Revelation. We praise God with our words and with the goodness of our lives.
Following the Sanctus, the Eucharistic Prayer continues with the proclamation of God’s holiness which in the new Eucharistic Prayers leads into a remembrance of the work of God and Jesus in the history of salvation. In Eucharistic Prayer II, we pray: “You are indeed Holy, O Lord, the fount of all holiness.” Eucharistic Prayer III continues, “You are indeed Holy, O Lord, and all you have created rightly gives you praise, for through your Son Jesus Christ, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, you give life to all things and make them holy….” Eucharistic Prayer IV proclaims, “We give you praise, Father most holy, for you are great and have fashioned all your works in wisdom and love.”
The Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I continues with “You are indeed Holy, O Lord, and from the world’s beginning are ceaselessly at work, so that the human race may become holy, just as you yourself are holy.” The four new Eucharistic Prayers from the Swiss-German Bishops’ Conference all contain the same wording: “You are indeed Holy and to be glorified, O God, who love the human race and who always walk with us on the journey of life. Blessed indeed is your Son, present in our midst when we are gathered by his love….”
As we recall the immensity and holiness of God, we profess our faith that God also desires to give us a share in God’s own holiness. Eucharistic Prayer III proclaims this mystery when the person is remembered at his/her funeral Mass “For seeing you, our God, as you are, we shall be like you for all ages and praise you without end….” What an awesome mystery that we, who are mere creatures, shall become like God in the glory of heaven, just as we strive to live like God on earth. We live God’s holiness by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ who is the revelation of God’s holiness and life. God calls Christians to radiate God’s divine life in the world. In heaven, the holiness will only intensify as we are with God for all eternity.
This mention of God’s holiness and the Father and Son’s role in our salvation leads into the first epiclesis upon the gifts of bread and wine that they may become for us the Body and Blood of Christ. Epiclesis is a Greek word meaning “invocation”, a calling down of the Holy Spirit to transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It is not by the priest’s power that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, but they become so by the power of God.
The calling down of the Holy Spirit upon the gifts recalls the overshadowing of Mary by the Holy Spirit. As God’s Spirit hovered over Mary and she conceived God’s eternal Son in her womb, so now calling down the Holy Spirit upon the gifts to change them into the Body and Blood of risen Christ. Each Eucharist is a celebration of Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost. Christ Jesus who is risen from the dead becomes present under the forms of bread and wine as we celebrate that same love He had for us on the cross united together by the Spirit.
Father Sauer continues his exploration of the Mass in the Oct. 6 issue of The Message.