GIRM 79: Structure of the Eucharistic Prayer

What every Catholic should know about the Eucharistic Prayer, and it’s something a bit more than “consecration” and three little songs:

79. The main elements of which the Eucharistic Prayer consists may be distinguished from one another in this way:

a) The thanksgiving (expressed especially in the Preface), in which the Priest, in the name of the whole of the holy people, glorifies God the Father and gives thanks to him for the whole work of salvation or for some particular aspect of it, according to the varying day, festivity, or time of year.

b) The acclamation, by which the whole congregation, joining with the heavenly powers, sings the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy). This acclamation, which constitutes part of the Eucharistic Prayer itself, is pronounced by all the people with the Priest.

c) The epiclesis, in which, by means of particular invocations, the Church implores the power of the Holy Spirit that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated, that is, become Christ’s Body and Blood, and that the unblemished sacrificial Victim to be consumed in Communion may be for the salvation of those who will partake of it.

d) The institution narrative and Consecration, by which, by means of the words and actions of Christ, that Sacrifice is effected which Christ himself instituted during the Last Supper, when he offered his Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine, gave them to the Apostles to eat and drink, and leaving with the latter the command to perpetuate this same mystery.

e) The anamnesis, by which the Church, fulfilling the command that she received from Christ the Lord through the Apostles, celebrates the memorial of Christ, recalling especially his blessed Passion, glorious Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven.

f) The oblation, by which, in this very memorial, the Church, in particular that gathered here and now, offers the unblemished sacrificial Victim in the Holy Spirit to the Father. The Church’s intention, indeed, is that the faithful not only offer this unblemished sacrificial Victim but also learn to offer their very selves,[cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 48; Eucharisticum Mysterium 12] and so day by day to be brought, through the mediation of Christ, into unity with God and with each other, so that God may at last be all in all.[Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 48; Presbyterorum Ordinis 5; Eucharisticum Mysterium 12]

g) The intercessions, by which expression is given to the fact that the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the whole Church, of both heaven and of earth, and that the oblation is made for her and for all her members, living and dead, who are called to participate in the redemption and salvation purchased by the Body and Blood of Christ.

h) The concluding doxology, by which the glorification of God is expressed and which is affirmed and concluded by the people’s acclamation Amen.

Part of “listening” is also knowing what is happening, or at least an awareness that these elements are going on, and how the believer’s life should be impacted by the experience of these prayers. I know that Liam’s distaste for the so-called silent canon is strong. My own sense is that the practice is borderline gnosticism.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to GIRM 79: Structure of the Eucharistic Prayer

  1. Hey bro’, hope the week went well. School concert went very well.

    Part of “listening” is also knowing what is happening, or at least an awareness that these elements are going on, and how the believer’s life should be impacted by the experience of these prayers. I know that Liam’s distaste for the so-called silent canon is strong. My own sense is that the practice is borderline gnosticism.

    I’m famous for missing connections or not thoroughly comprehending stuff, but I’m mystified by 1. how you got from your examination of the EP to your deduction quoted above.; 2. how “gnosticism” has surfaced as a broadbrush meme of late to bolster an opinion. Please explain to me how contending that “knowing” or “awareness” of the elements and prayers of our rites via the mechanism of audibility (many of which were filtered through the ages via contention with classical gnostic misconceptions) doesn’t qualify as “gnostic” in your meme-usage, while the practice and presumed interior partcipation by all gathered while the silent canon occurs in portions of either an EF or OF, does seem to you, perjoratively, “borderline gnosticism.”
    Remember, I’m enfeebled often to the level of a four year old when you explain this for me.;-)

    • Todd says:

      Liam has responded pretty well, but I’ll add that the gnosticism boat floats on the principle of secret knowledge–that there are two classes (or more) of believers. One group knows everything and interprets for those who do not.

      My sense of the silent canon in the modern context is that it’s a display of gnosticism. The GIRM says the anaphora is prayed and heard by all. It’s a mystery to me why this is a problem for anyone.

      Catholic liturgy is a sensual exercise, and it can and should appeal not only to the intellect, but to the senses. Hearing the Eucharistic Prayer and praying with it are as Catholics as candles, incense, iconography, great music, the taste and touch of the Eucharistic elements.

      If you prefer another pejorative, the silent canon is iconoclastic.

  2. Liam says:


    The triggering connection was my comment to the preceding part of the series:

  3. Liam says:

    I should further add this morsel from earlier in the week:

    There is a faction of the restorationist crowd that is getting louder of late about restoring the silent canon. My comment in the earlier part of Todd’s series was partly directed towards this, but is to be seen in the context of my oft-expressed skepticism about the post-hoc rationalisations for the silent canon that surfaced long after it finally became a widespread practice (after resistance for a few centuries) in the West in the late 1st millennium. I suspect Todd’s gnosticism comment is directed at the rhetoric of some of those rationalisations.

  4. Charles says:

    This four year old is now thoroughly informed, tho’ likely still not knowledgeable!
    Happy 4th Advent, gentlemen.

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