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THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST: The Concluding Rites (2)
The Priest’s Greeting and Blessing
The Concluding Rites are a valedictory moment. Valedictory comes from the Latin verb valedicere, which literally means “to say” to someone “be well.” The bishop or priest celebrating the Eucharist takes leave of his flock with a blessing, a spiritual expression of desiring their well-being.
“May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
The most simple Greeting and Blessing used is a simple invocation of the Most Holy Trinity over the participants by the priest celebrant. All the blessings end with an invocation of the Most Holy Trinity. Just as we begin and conclude our prayers by invoking the Trinity, we seal our participation in the Eucharist with an invocation even as we conclude our extended liturgical prayer.
“Our help is in the name of the Lord…. Who made heaven and earth.”
When a bishop has celebrated the Eucharist he greets and blesses the participants with a more solemn Pontifical formula that invites the faithful to respond as he blesses them with a doxology giving glory to the Lord (“Blessed be the name of the Lord…. Now and for ever”) and an acknowledgement that God the Creator can aid in any circumstance (“Our help is in the name of the Lord…. Who made heaven and earth.”).
“Bow down for the blessing.”
For special occasions and liturgical seasons a last Prayer over the People can be used where a deacon invites all those present to “Bow down for the blessing” and the celebrant prays for a more specific blessing in keeping with the occasion.
Whatever formula is used for the blessing, let our final “Amen” in response be a desire not only for ourselves, but for everyone who has participated with us, that the Lord’s blessings may rain down upon us in abundance.