Epiclesis Restoration and Vatican II – Fruit of Vatican II #11

(For other Fruits of Vatican II https://defendingvatican2.wordpress.com/defending-vatican-ii/6-0-historical-facts-and-post-vatican-ii-trends/)

The restoration of the Epiclesis and drawing out more clearly the role of the Holy Spirit in the Order of the Mass was one of the fruits of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GRIM), describes the Epiclesis as one of the chief elements of the Eucharistic Prayer. The Epiclesis is the part of the Eucharistic Prayer, “In which, by means of particular invocations, the Church implores the power of the Holy Spirit that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated, that is, become Christ’s Body and Blood, and that the spotless Victim to be received in Communion be for the salvation of those who will partake of it.” [GRIM, Par. 79(c)]

Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, during his Lenten reflection on March 24, 2023 had some great reflections to offer Pope Francis and the papal household. Some of these reflections touched upon Vatican II and the reforms of the Liturgy.

It is a gift that the liturgical reform of Vatican II has placed at the heart of the Mass the epiclesis, that is, the invocation of the Holy Spirit: first on the bread and wine and then on the entire mystical body of the Church. I have great respect for the venerable Eucharistic prayer of the Roman Canon and I love to use it again, sometimes, being the one with which I was ordained a priest. I cannot, however, fail to note with regret the total absence of the Holy Spirit in it. Instead of the current epiclesis of consecration on bread and wine, we find, in it, the generic formula: “Sanctify, O God, this offering with the power of your blessing…” (Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church devotes paragraphs 1091 to 1109 to the role of the Holy Spirit in the Liturgy. Paragraph 1112 aptly summarizes the important role of the Holy Spirit in the Liturgy. “The mission of the Holy Spirit in the liturgy of the Church is to prepare the assembly to encounter Christ; to recall and manifest Christ to the faith of the assembly; to make the saving work of Christ present and active by his transforming power; and to make the gift of communion bear fruit in the Church.” The Epiclesis is the phrases after the Sanctus, in which the Holy Spirit is asked to be sent by the Father so the offerings may become the body and blood of Christ (Par. 1105). The Holy Spirit inspires us to give praise and thanksgiving in the doxology (Par. 1103). The Holy Spirit also recalls the saving actions of God in history which may be more or less developed depending on the liturgy (Par. 1103).

What we should also recall here is that the 1962 Missal, just before Vatican II, had an implicit Epiclesis added although this is argued. Early liturgies such as the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom the Epiclesis explicit in the text. Eastern Liturgies have maintained the Epiclesis since the earliest times. By returning to the original sources, the reforms of Vatican II reintroduced this crucial part of the Liturgy back into the life of the Western Church.


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