THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST: Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon) (6)

“On the day before he was to suffer, he took bread in his holy and venerable hands, …”

In the Roman Canon the institution narrative reminds us that the Lord blessed us with the celebration of the Eucharist the day before he empowered it on the Cross. We celebrate the Eucharist in a non bloody way, offering that same sacrifice that was offered in a bloody way on the Cross. Our Lord in this moment celebrates the Eucharist in a non bloody way for the only time before his Passion and death in order to teach us how it should be celebrated after his Passion, death, Resurrection, and Ascension. His thoughts now on are what comes after this moment: the living testament that he’ll leave, not only for his first disciples, but for all of us, for generations to come.

“…and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks, he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples,…”

Our Lord’s thoughts are on what comes after this moment, and his gaze is fixed upon his Heavenly Father, for whom he is also making the supreme sacrifice and to whom he’ll soon be returning. In the Roman Canon the bishop or priest celebrating the Eucharist raises his own gaze to Heaven briefly to remember this moment when Our Lord directed his gaze to Heaven. Our Lord is here for us, not only on his own account, but because the Heavenly Father loves us and wants our redemption. He teaches us that the secret to embracing impending sacrifice is to keep our gaze fixed on those for whom we’re doing it.


On the night of the Last Supper these words not only transubstantiated the bread into his Body, but were also a prophecy soon fulfilled. In less than a day his body would be given up for all of us. We remember these words in every celebration of the Eucharist, now as commemoration of a prophecy made and fulfilled.

In that moment Our Lord was sacramentally present even as he was still physically present among his most beloved disciples. In our moment he is still present among us, in the Eucharistic species, and in the celebrant who acts in the Person of Christ on behalf of his whole Church. The celebrant briefly elevates the consecrate host and we all bow our heads before the Lord about to be given up for us once again in the sacrifice of the Eucharist. Our Lord is now with his Heavenly Father, and his gaze is fixed upon us.

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