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THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST: Eucharistic Prayer III (10)
“…through Christ our Lord, through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.”
The Church gathered in prayer concludes the intercession that they’re requesting and making by recall in prayer that all the good they seek is through Christ Our Lord. This provides the perfect segue into the concluding doxology.
The term doxology comes from the Greek word δόξᾰ (“reputation,” “honor,” “credit,” “glory”) and refers to a prayer giving glory to God. After concluding her intercessions with prayer on behalf of the dead the Eucharist Prayer concludes with a final giving of glory to God, known as the concluding doxology, beginning with the “Through him…”
“Through him, …”
Even as the priest or bishop raises the consecrated host he is offering Our Lord: he is offering Christ to the Heavenly Father sacramentally, because it is only through Christ that praise and glory can be given to the Heavenly Father.
“…and with him, and in him, …”
Unlike his moment on the Cross, Christ now is not offering himself to the Father by himself, nor is he just being offered. Those he has redeemed are united with him in offering praise and glory to God, and it is in him, as living members of the Mystical Body, that we are offered in praise and glory to the Father as well. We and Christ are united and offering ourselves to the Father as one Mystical Body, the Body of Christ.
“…in the unity of the Holy Spirit…”
This unity in the Mystical Body is not just physical, because we don’t stop being autonomous individuals by becoming incorporated into the Mystical Body through Baptism. If it were just physical we’d no longer be individuals, just body parts. Neither is the unity just moral, since we are not just acting for some external purpose on which we all agree; we have been transformed by grace and incorporated, participating in the very life of Christ.
This unity is mystical: a spiritual unity that unites not just believers here and now, but those who have preceded us into Purgatory and into Heaven. It is the Holy Spirit that makes this possible and sustains it. Some have said that just as the Church is the Body of the Christ, the Holy Spirit is the Soul of that Body, giving it form and life. In this sense we offer ourselves, body and soul, in praise and glory to God the Father.
“… all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever.”
Thanks to Our Lord and in the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to offer that glory and honor to God the Father for ever and ever. For the saints already in Heaven, celebrating the Heavenly liturgy in communion with us, they are already giving glory and honor to God forever, through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, because they are now numbered among the just in eternity.
For we poor mortals still on pilgrimage we express our desire to also give glory and honor to the Father forever. Perseverance and salvation are always gifts from God that require our constant effort, so even as we promise to give him glory and honor forever we express our theological hope that one day we too will achieve it.
Just as at the end of the Preface the faithful participating in the celebration joined with the choirs of angels in heaven in the Sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Hold Lord…”), as the Lord, sacramentally present in the consecrated host, is raised in offering to the Heavenly Father, the faithful respond now with the Amen known as the Great Amen. The doxology just concluded is the high point of the liturgy: Christ is present and being offered, and his Church is united with him in offering glory and honor to God for ever and ever in Heaven and on earth.
The importance of this moment, the final moment of the Liturgy of the Eucharist before continuing into the Communion Rite, is why this Amen is often accompanied by music or song, and often, on solemn occasions and feasts, sung as a triple Amen.
The priest or bishop celebrating Mass keeps the host raised throughout. It almost gives the impression that his arms and the host are being sustained by the prayers of the faithful, but it is really that host, Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, who is sustaining us, inspiring and enabling our prayer.
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