Eucharistic Revival – Eucharistic Prayer III

Eucharistic Prayer III (EP III) is the most common choice among priests for Sunday Mass. Recall that EP I is considered too long and EP II is too short (it is better for weekday Masses). (The final option, EP IV, is so rarely used by priests that I don’t include it in this series.) Since you hear EP III more often than the other Eucharistic Prayers (EPs), it really does deserve some commentary.

“…so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.” – This line is inspired by Malachi 1:1: “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering….” The Church Fathers considered this a prophecy of the Eucharist. In the old covenant, offerings could only be made in the Temple in Jerusalem. Malachi foretells a sacrifice offered by “the nations” – meaning Gentiles. Indeed, at any given time somewhere in the world the Mass is being offered.

“…at whose command we celebrate these mysteries.” – “Mysteries” is another word for sacraments. The Latin sacramentum was used as a translation of the Greek mustērion. It’s worth noting that this line is not hyperbole. Jesus really did command the celebration of the Eucharist when he said at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19).

“…as we look forward to his second coming…” – Thus we pray in the Creed, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”

“…grant that we, who are nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son and filled with his Holy Spirit, may become one body, one spirit in Christ. May he make of us an eternal offering to you…” – Ultimately, we do not celebrate the Eucharist to make bread and wine the Body and Blood of Christ. Rather, we celebrate the Eucharist so that we become the Body and Blood of Christ. Recall that we Catholics use the term “Body of Christ” in three ways: for his physical body, now seated at the right hand of the Father; for Holy Communion; and for the Church. The Missal makes this point: “The Church’s intention, indeed, is that the faithful not only offer this unblemished sacrificial Victim but also learn to offer their very selves, and so day by day to be brought, through the mediation of Christ, into unity with God and with each other” (GIRM 79).

“May this Sacrifice of our reconciliation, we pray, O Lord, advance the peace and salvation of all the world.” – We pray for temporal as well as spiritual blessings for the world at every Mass. We make some of our intentions explicit in the Universal Prayer (the petitions which follow the Creed).

“…your pilgrim Church on earth…” – This image is inspired by Hebrews 13:14: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.” Hence the Church is a pilgrim on Earth because our “final destination”
is heaven.