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The Mystery of Faith

posted Dec 17, 2011, 8:30 AM by Steven Vaughan
The brief dialogue of the priest and people after the consecration is something that expresses the essence of the Eucharist.  The fact that Jesus is now present on the altar provokes a response, so we pause to greet him by making one of three revised acclamations.  An acclamation is addressed to someone; a proclamation is made about someone.

Starting next week, the priest will simply announce, “The mystery of faith”.  As is the case with most of the new translation, this is a more accurate rendering of the Latin, Mystérium fídei. He makes this declarative statement because the consecration has made a tremendous change in the celebration.  Msgr. Antall explains to Catholic News Agency that this mystery is not like something out of Agatha Christie, a puzzle to be solved by discovering more clues; but an article of faith which defies our ability to comprehend it fully, yet requires the assent of our intellect and will.

These words have been part of the narrative since the 7th century.  Originally, they were said inaudibly as part of the consecration of the wine, but the Second Vatican Council moved this “anamnesis” (literally a “remembering”) to its present position, making it both audible and a dialogue. 

Abbot Desthieux points out that when a couple celebrates their anniversary, it’s not just about the past; they are celebrating the date because of their ongoing relationship and their hope for the future.  In a similar way, the community of faith remembers not just the sacrificial death of Jesus the Christ, but reflects on the present action of the consecration and our relationship with Christ now.  And there is a clear reference to the future in all three acclamations.

Blessed John Paul II reflected on this in his encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, writing that the very thought of the mysterious gift of the Holy Eucharist should fill us with “profound amazement and gratitude”.  Do you sing it that way?
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