Doxology Concludes The Eucharistic Prayer
With the chalice and paten held aloft (beginning in the 7th century in Rome), the Eucharistic Prayer concludes with the doxology: “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours for ever and ever. Amen.”
Our Eucharistic Prayers are like great symphonies composed of different movements with several points of climax or culmination. These climactic points create emotional ups and downs focusing the listeners’ attention on them. But there is always the main one when the music reaches its emotional peak. Using this musical analogy, we could say that the “Sanctus” or “Holy, Holy, Holy” and the Institution Narrative or Consecration are climactic moments with the main one being the doxology when the Church expresses its deepest faith. In Sunday Masses, this concluding doxology is usually sung with great volume and emphasis, highlighting its importance.
In the Old Testament, God’s glory was so awesome that it was beyond human seeing (see Exodus 33:18-34:8). Even Moses could not look upon God’s face. Christians, however, believe that God’s glory is now seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We proclaim this in the 2nd reading on Christmas Day – “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these days, he has spoken to us through the Son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence (mine: meaning “brilliance”) of his glory, the very imprint of his being and who sustains all things by his mighty word” (Hebrews 1:3). The worshipping Church expresses this faith in the doxology concluding the Eucharistic Prayer.
In Eucharistic Prayer I (Roman Canon), these words precede the concluding doxology – “Through whom you continue to create all these good things, O Lord; you sanctify them, fill them with life, bless them, and bestow them upon us.” Eucharistic Prayer II expresses a similar idea – “…through Christ our Lord, through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.” This belief was also proclaimed in the Gospel at the Christmas Mass during the day – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be” (John 1:1-3).
In the earliest days of the Church, natural produce (olives, oil, cheese, fruits, etc.) were blessed before the concluding doxology. This practice continues today in some ethnic churches (German, Italian, Polish) especially on Easter when hams, Easter eggs, and breads are still blessed. In Christ, we do indeed receive all these other good gifts.
According to Joseph Jungmann, the first doxology in Eucharistic Prayer I “presents a picture of God’s gifts steaming down from heaven through Christ’s mediatorship, while the second brings (mine: the concluding doxology) into relief how, through Him, all honor and glory surge from creation up to God” (The Mass of the Roman Rite, 454). The Church is now the place where glory and honor now rise to the Father. In 1 Peter 2:4-5, Christians are exhorted to “Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Our daily lives must also be lived “through him, and with him, and in him” if our liturgical praise is to be authentic.
Father Sauer continues his exploration of the Mass in the Feb. 2 issue of The Message.