The Eucharistic Prayer is prayed to God the Father

(This is the third in a series of columns on the Eucharistic Prayer. To understand fully this text, refer to the November and December issues of the WRC.)

The Eucharistic Prayer is prayed to God the Father. The priest and people together who are Christ present, confess the great deeds of God and join Christ in offering the sacrifice (GIRM 78).

After the opening dialogue the priest prays the preface. There are many prefaces that can be interchanged with three of the Eucharistic Prayers. In each preface the priest remembers some aspect of God’s great deeds. The deeds of God mentioned are tied to the feast we celebrate or are more general in nature. The preface prayed invites the assembly to be grateful for what God has done for us.

The Holy, Holy, Holy follows. This is one of three times we offer acclamation. The other two are the Memorial Acclamation and the Great Amen at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer. We raise our voice in a shout of gladness and praise. Ideally the acclamations are sung. Song elevates the spoken word. Just before the Holy, Holy, Holy the priest prays that “we join the angels and saints …” We believe that our Mass on earth is modeled on the eternal heavenly liturgy. When we sing the acclamations, we are literally joining the song of the saints and angels in heaven.

The mention of the great deeds of God continues after the Holy, Holy, Holy in Eucharistic Prayers two, three and four. (Eucharistic Prayer One has all the elements of the other Eucharistic Prayers but they are arranged differently. A separate column would be necessary to explain the structure of Eucharistic Prayer One.)

This expression of thanksgiving gives way to the epiclesis. This is a Greek word which means invocation. Having thanked God for his great deeds, we ask him to send his Holy Spirit to change the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. We do this with great confidence because we have recalled God’s love for us in his great deeds and we know in faith that he wants to give us all that is good for us.

We also pray in confidence because we know in faith that God’s greatest gift to us was his Son’s life, death and resurrection. Jesus gave us his body and blood at the Last Supper and as we prepare to remember with gratitude that moment in Jesus’ life, we join Christ present in invoking the Spirit.

What follows then is the institution narrative and the consecration. Through the agency of the priest who is Christ present leading the body of Christ the church, the Holy Spirit transforms the bread and wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. In this moment we are remembering what Jesus did for us, we are fulfilling his command to “do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19), and we are confessing once again the great deeds of God in his Son Jesus. This moment is amazing and all that has gone before in the Mass as a whole and the Eucharistic Prayer in particular, prepares us for the consecration.

All that comes after flows from this moment as well. What more can we do than once again, offer an acclamation, a song of joy and hope for what God has done in Jesus and will continue to do until the end time. Our adoration of Christ present leads us to a song of remembrance and praise in the Memorial Acclamation.

The Eucharistic Prayer continues with the anamnesis, oblation and another epiclesis. Anamnesis is another Greek word that means remembering. Just after the Memorial Acclamation, we pray remembering that Christ not only died but also rose from the dead and ascended. This moment in the Eucharistic Prayer completes the command of Jesus to remember what he did for us.

This remembering leads us to make an offering or oblation to God the Father. This is the true offertory of the Mass. We are invited to join the priest’s prayer of offering Christ, who is present with us, to God the Father and ourselves with him (GIRM78). Participating in this offering of the sacrifice is the obligation that church asks of us. We are to join Christ in his sacrifice of himself to the Father. This is a marvelous moment of deep humility and joyous hope. Joined to Christ, we go to God the Father by God’s gracious design. The hope of our eternal salvation is bound up and given its fullest expression in this prayer which often goes unnoticed without this proper understanding.

During this offering of the sacrifice, we turn again to invocation. We ask that the Holy Spirit transform us too. We ask to become one body and one spirit in Christ, to be made one. The presence of Christ invites us almost immediately into a relationship with one another. As we are one with God the Father through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, so may we be with one another.

‘Bless you in your 2020 yellow-brick-road journey’

My first conscious awareness of 2020 was the song, “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” No kidding. I woke up with that song running through my head. There was Dorothy in her ruby slippers, skipping down the yellow brick road with her three companions. I dressed and skipped (no, not really) to the chapel for my morning routine of prayer.

At first, I wondered if this wizard song had anything to do with my impending visit to Rome. True, I do have “new slippers” in the form of a new cassock. I am excited to meet Pope Francis, but not because I want something. Rather, I hope to listen to his wisdom and experience and that of the various leaders of the Vatican offices to learn and grown in my own ministry. Rome is not emerald, but rather more of a mixture of stony white and various shades of tan, orange and dirty pink.

I quickly dismissed these ideas as misguided, but as the song persisted in my head, I contemplated further the image of these four wandering misfits on the yellow brick road. Nothing in life is coincidental.  God speaks to us in many ways if we have expectant faith.

Dorothy and her companions wanted a brain, a heart and courage, along with a return to Kansas. More deeply, the travelers wanted 1) to see clearly and understand, 2) to feel deeply and know love, 3) to have the willingness and resolve to act, and 4) to find the way home. In this first prayer of 2020, I examined my own need for renewal as I pondered these four desires.

Like the scarecrow, I want a brain that understands. I want to see clearly and to know what it is that God wants for me and from me. A significant dimension of the spiritual journey is understanding. Understanding by itself is insufficient, but it is, at the same time, essential. How often have you wanted to understand and did not, or had a moment when suddenly you did understand and then felt rather foolish about having missed the point? God wants us to understand. God wants us to see with the kind of clarity that will propel us into a relationship with him and with one another.

Like the tin man, I want to feel deeply and to love. My heart can be filled with bitterness, anger and envy. I can hold grudges in a self-righteous determination to “get my way.” I suspect you might identify with that smallness of heart that leaves us shriveled and stingy and lonely. Do you want something more? I want to reflect more deeply, to open my heart more honestly. I want to feel the hurt and release my pain into the eternal embrace of God’s gracious love and experience that love which flows from God’s heart into ours. I want to open my heart to the depth of God and discover in me the ability to love as God loves.

Like the cowardly lion, I also want to have the courage to act, to do something, but only with and through that understanding and selfless love of God. Do you find yourself fearful and trembling, at least inside, not knowing if and when and how you should do something? Or do you find yourself charging in without a clear understanding or a genuine compassion, only to be ashamed of your thoughtless and uncaring comment or action? I want to have genuine courage and to speak the truth with deep kindness in a way that calls both me and the other to a new response.

Finally, and above all, I share Dorothy’s desire to go home. I really do want to be in heaven when my yellow-brick-road journey is complete. My deep longing to be an understanding, loving, courageous disciple is rooted in the ultimate goal of life with God. Do you find yourself longing for that kind of peace and security that is never ending, to be cherished for being you? Heaven is our true home and I want to live my life in response to God’s gracious invitation to live with him so that I can find a new and glorious home — not the Emerald City, but the heavenly Jerusalem.

So, 2020 has begun. We in the Diocese of Rapid City are mostly likely off to meet, not a wizard but a new bishop. When that will be, I don’t know. In the meantime, as we travel down the road, I pray that you will receive the gift of understanding to know and see what it is that God desires for you. I will pray that you will receive a heart of overflowing love that will allow you to meet each person with kindness and truth. I will pray that you will, with understanding and love, have the courage to live your discipleship in the Lord Jesus and make the choices that make a difference in our small corner of the world. Above all, I pray that your desire for our heavenly home will increase and that all we say and do will be led by that desire to be with God now and forever. I would ask you to do the same for me.

Thank you and God bless you in your 2020 yellow-brick-road journey.

Building a lively culture of vocations in families

One of my desires for this new year is to work more closely with parents in building a lively culture of vocations in their family life. My hope is to encourage parents to have more intentional conversations with their children on how God continues to call each one of their children to a life of holiness, filled with the grace and power of Jesus in the Holy Spirit. 

These types of conversations are only effective if they are rooted in a life of prayer. Prayer opens the hearts of parents and their children to hear the voice of Jesus who says in Mt 4:19, “Come, follow me.”

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all of our children had the support they needed to truly discern their vocation, whether it would be marriage, priesthood, consecrated life or the single life, with dad and mom taking the lead?

From my experience, a majority of our young people simply assume that marriage is their vocation without praying or having intentional conversations with mom and dad about the possibility God is calling them to anything else.

Father Brett Brannen, a vocation director and former seminary rector, wrote a book titled “A Priest in the Family: A Guide for Parents Whose Sons are Considering Priesthood.” He wrote it because he encountered in his ministry so many seminarians and priests who shared that a parent or family member actively tried to talk them out of becoming a priest. 

He would often say to young men: “Would you like to become a priest?” Usually the answer was: “I don’t think so, Father.”

Then he would say, “But would you become a priest if Jesus asked you to?” And the answer is always the same: “Yes, Father, if Jesus asks me to become a priest, I will do it.”

Therefore, part of the challenge is to help our parents and children encounter the presence of Christ and to begin to hear his voice together. In this way we can begin to combat the challenge Father Brannen identifies; namely that many young people don’t consider a religious vocation because they don’t hear Jesus’ invitation.

Having families listen together also addresses another equally serious challenge. Year after year, in surveys of newly ordained priests, over half report that their families opposed the idea of priesthood when they first expressed interest.

One of the reasons is that priesthood does not fit a parent’s vision of the good life for their children. Parents, too, need to hear the reassuring voice of Jesus reminding them that he loves their children, too, and only wants the best for them.

As I begin this new year with the desire to work more intentionally with parents, I thought sharing these Six Vocation Mythbusters for Parents from Vianney Vocations would be a good beginning:

Parents, please make a commitment during 2020 to be open to the possibility that your children might have a calling to the priesthood or religious life. Consider that such a calling is part of God’s plan for them — a plan that needs your nurturing and support.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me for ideas on how you can help your children discern their vocations. I look forward to working with you in providing them with the guidance they need.

Vocations Myths Busted

MYTH #1 “He’s too young”

Many parents, when their young son expresses an interest in seminary, will dispense well-meaning advice: “Get some life experience first — and at least a college degree — then think about seminary later.”

Mom and dad envision that with a nice girlfriend and a good job; the idea of priesthood will fade away. The problem is, they may be right. That’s why it’s crucial that when God moves the heart of a young man to explore the priesthood, parents should trust God that the timing may be right.

True, in some cases an 18-year-old may not be mature enough to enter seminary right out of high school. But many are ready. College seminaries are places of joy, camaraderie and deep spiritual growth.

Even if your son goes to college seminary and eventually discerns he is not called to priesthood, don’t think he’ll have to “make up for lost time.” Thousands of former seminarians look back on their seminary days with great affection and gratitude!

MYTH #2 “He’ll be so lonely”

This is an easy myth to dispel. Priests are surrounded by people! After all, their job is to bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus. They are continually working with parish staff, youth and a myriad of people who come to them for spiritual advice.

Seminaries are very deliberate in teaching men how to form good, healthy relationships with people in their parishes and the priests of their dioceses. Sure, there can be lonely moments — but the same is true in any vocation, including marriage. Most priests have healthy friendships with brother priests, lay people and family that keep them grounded and connected.

MYTH #3 “Celibacy is impossible”

For couples who enjoy a healthy sexual relationship, it can be difficult to imagine their son choosing “life without a wife.” Society would have us believe that celibacy is impossible or, at the very least, unreasonable.

The truth is that sexual love is indeed one of God’s greatest natural gifts, but that thousands of saints have experienced tremendous joy living the supernatural vocation of celibacy. Seminaries offer superb formation in how to live celibately with peace and joy.

MYTH #4 “I won’t have grandchildren”

When a mother of a priest was asked at her only child’s ordination if she was sad she would never have grandchildren, she responded, “It’s not about me.” She was simply grateful that her son had found God’s will for his life.

Many parents of priests are surprised to find that they gain “spiritual grandchildren” — thousands of people whose lives have been profoundly influenced by their son’s priesthood. There is a special joy in meeting people who exclaim, “You’re Fr. Jacob’s mother? He’s such a great priest!”

MYTH #5 “I’ll lose my son”

Some parents think that if their son becomes a priest, they’ll never see him. One young priest laughed at this idea: “When Thanksgiving rolls around and my brothers and sisters are busy with their children and in-laws, guess what? As a priest, I don’t have any of those ties. It’s me carving the turkey with mom and dad!”

His point is that diocesan priests are able to spend a healthy amount of time with family. If the priest’s assignment is far from home, in the Internet age, social media and Skype make it easy to keep in touch.

MYTH #6 “He’ll be unhappy”

This is the “umbrella fear” that encompasses all the others. It’s also the easiest to dismiss, because the facts prove otherwise. A number of studies about happiness invariably find one profession ranked number one: clergy.

There is a recent book, based on a very large study, titled “Why Priests Are Happy.” The author, Msgr. Stephen Rosetti, finds that 92% of priests report being happy, and that the key factor in this happiness is an “inner peace.”

Clear vision for the diocesan archives

 

Preserving a Catholic Community By Kathy Cordes, Diocesan Archivist

(Writer’s note: These firsts do not encompass the of history of the five Indian Reservations in the Diocese of Rapid City.)

History will be made in 2020 with the first Catholic Pastoral Center in our diocese. Following are lists of the firsts we have recorded. Unfortunately, the claims for these firsts are not well documented and many dates contradict one another. These make for interesting history discussions. We would love for someone to say — “hey, wait a minute our marriage was the first recorded in …” and then we could record it as the diocesan’s firsts.  

From the Dakotas to New Dakota Territory to Lead City to Diocese of Lead City and finally, to the Diocese of Rapid City – The recorded first priest, diocesan or religious order; the first Mass, low or high Mass; first church (framed, wooden or structure).

The first West River Catholic issue was published in May 1973. Publisher: Bishop Harold J. Dimmerling, Editor: Fr. William J. O’Connell. The diocesan cathedral was dedicated on May 7, 1963. Ten years later to the day the first issue was published. It was “to serve as reminder to everyone that the Blessed Virgin plays an important part in our spiritual life.”

The first Mass in Rapid City was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1883 by Rapid City’s first resident pastor, Rev. Alfred Vigeant in the first church of any denomination to be built in the new town. St. Mary Catholic Church (framed) was constructed beginning in 1881. -Excerpt from Rapid City in Retrospect, published 1982.  

The first resident Jesuit Catholic priest in 1876 was Father Bernard Mackin, SJ. He was reportedly the first priest buried in St. Ambrose Cemetery. Interestingly enough, the first cemetery – St. Ambrose, the Catholic section (also called Mount Moriah) was established in Deadwood in the early 1880s. -St. Ambrose Parish 100th Anniversary booklet 1877-1977.

St. Ambrose was the first Catholic church in our diocese. Fr. John Lonergan presided at the first public low Mass in Deadwood on May 20, 1877. -The Black Hills Daily Times, Dakota Territory, 1877.

The first Mass reportedly was said in Kendall, Dakota Territory, in 1683 by a French missionary priest. Among the fur traders, he paused to say Mass for any group he came across. -Typewritten statement, author unknown. 

The first Spanish speaking missionary, Rev. Pedro Morante, was in charge of the Spanish mission people in the Black Hills. 

The first grammar school was named St. Martin Academy in honor of Bishop Martin Marty.

The first hospital, St. Edward Hospital was opened 1878 in Deadwood and staffed by Sisters of the Holy Cross. 

“In order to make this (these firsts) as interesting as possible I would appreciate any news clippings, photos, written historical remembrances that parishioners might have which would help tell the history of our diocese.” Fr. Eugene Szalay, May 1973, wrote in the first column “Heritage In the Faith” published in first West River Catholic newspaper. 

The well-known mantra of all archivists as reiterated in Fr. Szalay’s message above, of yesteryear and for the future, we must preserve and report history and send it to the archives! 

St. Joseph School in Gregory formed a rhythm band which made its first public appearing in Gregory May 2, 1929. — Dedication booklet, 1969 St. Joseph Parish

West River Catholic December 2019

Enjoy the December 2019 West River Catholic

Father Hofer to serve as Chaplain to the South Dakota National Guard


Warrant Officer Lonny Hofer, retired National Guard, swears in his son Father Adam Hofer, while First Lieutenant Pat Moran holds the microphone during the ceremony. (Photo Courtesy Brenda Schneller) Visit our Facebook page to see the full video of the swearing in: www.facebook.com/DioceseofRapidCity.

Father Adam Hofer, Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City was sworn in as a First Lieutenant in the South Dakota Army National Guard in November. An informal celebration was held at the parish December 8 to celebrate the occasion.

“My decision to become a chaplain in the National Guard was influenced by the serious need for chaplains in general and for Catholic priests in particular to serve as chaplains in the National Guard,” he explained in a statement to the West River Catholic. “About 24 percent of the soldiers in the South Dakota National Guard are Catholic. Also, my dad served a long career in the National Guard and I have a significant appreciation for his service and example, as well as for the chaplains and their services and support provided throughout my dad’s career. As a priest, I believe that I can support our men and women in uniform who sacrifice for the freedom that we enjoy as Americans. My service is also founded in permission to serve from the Office of the Bishop.”

His service will entail attending the “drill weekend” with the Joint Force Headquarters unit each month as well as for two weeks during the summer. He will also attend a Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Jackson, S.C., to learn military protocol and chaplain specific training to effectively serve the soldiers.

A sneak peek at the new diocesan archives

Those who have toured the basement love that I have put my title on the door already. (WRC photo)

Did you know there are three floors in our new pastoral center? Not many people do. A basement is often overlooked but in the new pastoral center this floor will be taking on new life as we move our current diocesan archives. The move in date has yet to be determined.

The diocesan archives have been on quite a journey. Over the years, we have moved from a 290 (est.) square footage one room Chancery building basement (behind the Cathedral) to nearly 2,000 square feet at Terra Sancta Chancery Annex to the upcoming new Pastoral Center in downtown Rapid City.

Our diocesan archives are at maximum capacity!  Making this new move will enable us to work more efficiently, timely, up to date. Currently, the archives occupy five rooms on two floors, and two small closets at Terra Sancta.  My main workspace serves as an office and processing area all in one.  At times, more often than not, it looks as if I am moving and there are boxes and artifacts all over! Packages and boxes are left on my doorstep, sometimes anonymously, as someone is usually downsizing or cleaning out their attic. 

The new floor space will be in a much larger room with the space needed to process files, artifacts and collections. These will be easy to access and items will not be stacked on top of one another. Additional surfaces for sorting and arranging collections and some storage for supplies will be beneficial. I will have ample storage space and I will be able to scan photographs and books without moving a separate desk around to line up with my computer. My hopes are to purchase a book scanner that permanently sits on a separate desk to use efficiently and not have to move and reinstall this piece of equipment every time I want to use it. I will be able to work among the ‘stacks’ and not have to move my research into a different office. 

Our diocese must adhere to record retention guidelines regulated by S.D. state law and our church Canon Laws. Canon law states a diocese must have adequate space to store records and artifacts.  Canon Law also defines what records need to be stored permanently. Records such as financial records, employee records, etc. must adhere to South Dakota State Retention guidelines. 

Windows are typically not used in archival storage areas. This practice is used to protect collections from light, humidity and excess heat gain or loss. Different areas to house such items as tin type negatives are individually temperature-controlled areas along with an area to house photos that will not be subject to the same elements as above.

Growth and expansion are important for our future, our history, and our especially Catholic history. We are called as Christians to reach out to the next generation, to pass on our faith. The foundation being the heart of Catholic history just may be found in the basement!

‘Do we really believe in God’s ability and desire to transform our lives?’

“A branch shall sprout from the root of Jesse, and the glory of the Lord will fill the whole earth, and all flesh will see the salvation of God.”
—Entrance Antiphon for Dec. 20

The season of Advent; this season of silence and stillness; the season of waiting is fast approaching its end. In just a little while we will begin our celebration of Christmas. The glory of the Lord will once again “fill the whole earth” … or at least as much of it as we have given to him to fill. For the Lord cannot fill a cup already full. 

This is the great challenge of Advent; to do some major de-cluttering in our hearts in the stillness and silence. In “The Reed of God,” author Caryll Houselander has provided some beautiful imagery to help us do just that in imitation of Our Lady. She speaks of the virginal emptiness of Mary as an “emptiness like the hollow in the reed, the narrow riftless emptiness, which can have only one destiny: to receive the piper’s breath and to utter the song that is in his heart. It is emptiness like the hollow in the cup, shaped to receive water or wine. It is emptiness like that of the bird’s nest, built in a round warm ring to receive the little bird.” 

She goes on to ask, “can someone whose life is already cluttered up with trivial things get back to this virginal emptiness?” Yes! So, too, can those who are too full of their own big plans, those who are “too set on their own conscious purpose in life … Zealots and triflers and all besides who have crowded the emptiness out of their minds and the silence out of their souls can restore it. At least they can allow God to restore it and ask him to do so.”

If we have not yet captured the silence and stillness of Advent, it is not too late to do so. With God, it is never too late. Doing so is well worth the effort because as we learn from the example of Our Lady, into this emptiness rushes the Holy Spirit and in her case God is made man —  the Incarnation — the greatest event in human history. For us as well, new life will be made in us when we make space for the Holy Spirit, when we carve out stillness and silence and dwell in expectant emptiness. 

We can also follow Our Lady further and continue to learn from her. Having received, Mary then gives. “She had nothing to give Him but herself. He asked for nothing else. She gave Him herself. Working, eating, sleeping, she was forming His body from hers. His flesh and blood. From her humanity she gave Him his humanity.” As Houselander points out, Jesus is formed as Mary moves through her daily activities. “Every beat of her heart gave Him his heart to love with. … Breaking and eating the bread, drinking the wine of the country, she gave Him his flesh and blood.”

This is where stewardship enters our story. In embracing this Catholic Way of Life, we allow God into all our daily activities; we invite the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in our lives; we allow him to guide our daily activities, choices and work and he brings his life into the mundane. Like Mary, we have nothing to give but ourselves. And He asks for nothing else. But when we give that which we have, he gives back life in abundance. I think sometimes our greatest barrier to living this life of generosity, of abundance, of dedicated discipleship is that deep down we really don’t believe that it works this way. We doubt His generosity, we doubt our own ability to receive and then to give. Deep down, do we really believe in God’s ability and desire to transform our lives; to make them holy? If we struggle, living a life of stewardship can help. Stewardship gives us concrete ways to bring God into the small, daily choices of life. To allow Him to be made in the ordinary. To live deeply in the mystery of the Incarnation.

May the remainder of our Advent be filled with expectant stillness and silence. May we all experience the deep love of the Word Incarnate this Christmas. Many blessings to you and to your family from the Office of Stewardship!

Highpoint of Mass is Eucharistic Prayer

The Eucharistic Prayer is “the center and summit of the entire celebration …” (GIRM 78) To state this is not to say that this is the only part of the Mass that matters. All that has led up to this moment is preparation. The summit of a mountain does not exist except that it sits on the mountain itself. Up to this point in the liturgy, we have experienced the risen Lord present in the gathered community and in the person of the priest presiding. We have acclaimed our sinfulness and known again the mercy and love of God in Christ. We have glorified God present. We have heard Him in the scripture readings that have been proclaimed. We appreciate anew the marvelous works God in his son Jesus which are summed up and fulfilled in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thus, the Eucharistic Prayer is the summit toward which we have been climbing. 

Even so, it is difficult to truly enter this moment in the Mass. During the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest does most of the speaking. This leads to passivity, not because we want it to, but because this is what happens when one is speaking, and another is listening for a significant time. At least most people tell me that this is the time in the Mass where it is easy to become distracted. We can’t change the way the prayer is presented. We can understand the Eucharist Prayer better and engage the prayer in ways that invite a more dynamic involvement.

We need to understand the Eucharistic Prayer as something the whole assembly prays. The priest as Christ present leads his body, that is, the congregation. The General Instruction notes that the priest …  “unites the congregation with himself in the prayer that he addresses in the name of the entire community to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit” (GIRM 78). For the priest to unite the assembly with himself, the assembly must be ready and willing to join the Eucharistic Prayer.

As stated above, the Eucharistic Prayer is addressed to God the Father. Like the whole of the Mass, Christ present in us, offers himself to God the Father and God the Father responds. The Mass is a prayer dialogue. The Eucharistic Prayer begins in dialogue reminding us that we are praying to God the Father and that both the priest and people have a part in that dialogue. 

The first statement is a strong reminder that God is in our midst. The whole first part of the liturgy has affirmed that. God is present in the community gathered and in the Word we have shared. The community acknowledges this and declares that God is present in the priest who is leading them. This is our belief. Christ is in his church when they gather, head and members. St. Paul uses this dialogue often in his letters. We continue this ancient practice, recognizing the Lord is with us here and now.

Next, the priest invites us to lift our hearts to the Lord. We are asked to give ourselves to God, who is at once, present to us and also living in glory. Everything that we have done at this point in the liturgy is summed up in this phrase. We respond that we are doing this now. Our attentive listening, our speaking the prayers and our singing all speak about how sincerely we have lifted our hearts to the Lord.

The priest then sets the tone for the rest of the Eucharistic Prayer. He reminds us that we are going to give thanks to God. We give thanks because we remember what God has done for us. We

remember that we are blessed by God’s love and action in our world. Remembering we are blessed, we offer thanks. Thanks lead to praise of God’s goodness. Our response says that we understand how

important this is, that we have in fact touched the goodness and blessing of God and we believe it is right — not just a nice idea — but RIGHT to give God thanks and praise. The general instruction says it this way. … “the meaning of the Prayer is that the entire congregation of the faithful should join itself with Christ in confessing the great deeds of God and in the offering of the sacrifice” (GIRM 78). The Eucharistic Prayer is a model for our Catholic way of life. The Eucharistic Prayer is then, a stewardship prayer.

In the next few columns we will deepen our understanding of the Eucharistic Prayer and our participation in this center and summit of the Mass.