The legacy of Vatican II – Mass in the vernacular – is an incredible gift for us. If you remember, or have attended, a Tridentine Mass, the difference will be stark. Whereas in the old Mass, the altar server (boy!) voiced the responses of the congregation, now we voice the responses ourselves, the whole congregation together, mostly in our own language. The act of responding, along with the different postures assumed during the Mass, makes our participation in the Eucharistic prayer more evident. Even though the priest faces the congregation, he’s not talking to us but for us. We do better to think of ourselves as gathered together around the altar. We are all fixed on a single point: the host and the chalice, from which we will receive the most precious body and blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life when God will be all in all” (CCC 1326). In the Eucharist, “we offer to the Father what he has himself given us: the gifts of his creation” (CCC 1357). Nevertheless, this offering is a sacrifice: a “sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father…for all his benefits,” especially “creation, redemption, and sanctification” and a “sacrifice of praise by which the Church sings the glory of God in the name of all creation” (CCC 1360-1361). Far from being a prayer that the priest offers, while we are merely the audience, the Eucharistic prayer is a prayer that we offer, and God is the hearer. So let us incline our hearts to the Father and unite our voices with the words spoken by the priest as he prays:
We entreat you, almighty God,
that by the hands of your holy Angel
this offering may be borne to your altar in heaven
in the sight of your divine majesty,
so that as we receive in communion at this altar
the most holy Body and Blood of your Son,
we may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace.