18 June 2023

What is the epiclesis in the holy mass? – Know the meaning of epiclesis

By Donald

The Holy Mass is a rite of the Catholic religion, which is an important part of the active life of the Christian. As a ceremony, it is divided into different sections, in which each one represents a fundamental element to bless and praise God.

As good believers, we must thoroughly know this ceremony and its meaning to achieve the glory of God. From the initial rites, the liturgy of the word, doxology to the epiclesis that belongs to the holy communion. The latter will be discussed in this article.

Definition and meaning of epiclesis in the mass

The Holy Mass is divided into sections, each with a specific function. In all of these the invocation of the holy spirit is part of both the faithful and the priest who presides over the mass. This ‘invocation on’ is what is known as epiclesis and comes from the Greek epiklesis.

Although it is a word unknown to most Catholic Christians, the meaning is quite simple. It is the given moment, in which prayer is being made and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit. Something quite similar to how people did in other times when they invoked different gods such as the sun or the moon.

The epiclesis is merely intercessory, since through these invocations we request the Holy Spirit to descend on something or someone. So that the gifts presented before the altar are consecrated, that bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ Jesus and in each of the sacraments or Eucharist we will find epiclesis.

Now, to understand this concept in depth, you must know what the parts of the mass are. In this sense we have:

  1. opening rites: With the entrance procession, opening greeting, penitential act, The Glory Be, and the collect prayer.
  2. Liturgy of the word: It is made up of the first reading, psalm, second reading, the Gospel, the Homily, the Creed and finally, the prayer of the faithful.
  3. Eucharistic liturgy: Presentation of the gifts, Eucharistic prayer, and in the latter is where we find the epiclesis, consecration, anamnesis, oblation, intercession and final doxology
  4. Farewell rites: the priest gives the final blessing and says goodbye.

What is the Eucharistic epiclesis?

Both Protestants and those who defend the Catholic faith have similar views on the Holy Spirit. In this sense, when speaking of epiclesis, all the sacraments involve it. For example, during baptism the priest asks the Father for the Holy Spirit to descend on the water so that, in this way, all those who are dead in life rise to a new life.

In the Eucharistic section, just before the consecration, the celebrant extends his hands over the offerings. And through a prayer to God the Father he asks for the Gift of the Holy Spirit. So that through his action on the bread and wine they become body and blood. On the other hand, the faithful accompany this act, kneeling as a sign of respect and invoking the dildo.

This is what is known as Eucharistic epiclesis. That is, the moment in which the priest invokes the Holy Spirit to transform the offerings. And that everyone who receives it (during communion) is for their own salvation. Without the epiclesis, no liturgy is possible. And this is accompanied by the apostolic sign of laying on of hands as a sign of invocation.

What is said in the epiclesis?

Depending on the context and the occasion, what is professed during the epiclesis varies. However, it can also be while doing a personal prayer. For example, in the confirmation God the Father is invoked to send down the Paraclete Holy Spirit together with the 7 gifts that appear reflected in the Holy Scriptures: spirit of wisdom, strength, understanding, advice of science and piety.

However, at Mass, when the priest spreads his hands over the bread and wine, the same words are always said.

That is why we ask you to sanctify these gifts with the outpouring of your Spirit, so that they may be for us the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.’ And next act, proceeds the consecration

Always remembering that it is a divine action that transforms the two species, and not by human work. It is God, by the action of the Holy Spirit, who turns the bread and wine and saves you. That is why during this act, the parishioners present there kneel in sign of adoration from the moment the priest lays his hands on the offerings.

What do we ask the heavenly father in the epiclesis prayer?

The celebration of the Holy Mass is the place par excellence to invoke and ask for the Holy Spirit. This is the fundamental and general purpose of the epiclesis. Now, depending on the moment, this invocation has several meanings.

during communionwe ask for the Holy Spirit to become what we receive, that is, the Body of Christ and to be part of Him as well.

at the consecration the epiclesis is with the ultimate goal of transforming the offerings into the body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation).

on confirmation the priest asks for the assistance of the Holy Spirit to fill them with his seven gifts. During confession and penance, the Presbyter extends his hands over the person and invokes the Father through the Holy Spirit to grant forgiveness of confessed sins and give him peace.

In the priestly Ordination, the action of the spirit is revealed. In which the person in charge imposes his hands (as a sign of invocation). In order to renew on the new consecrated spirit of government and holiness to fulfill his design.

On the other hand, in the Anointing of the Sick the Spirit is asked for help. In addition to salvation for his soul and comfort during his illness. In it sacrament of marriage, a nuptial anointing is requested and that by the grace of the Spirit it is love that reigns in hearts in their new conjugal alliance.

How many epiclesis are there in the mass?

In each of the sacraments we will find an epiclesis. But, when speaking of the Holy Mass, there are two moments for the invocation of the Holy Spirit. Both are present in Eucharistic Liturgy II and are related to each other. The first of them is just before the consecration, and it is quite remarkable for the words that the priest professes while the people remain on their knees and in silence.

The second of them goes more unnoticed. He is more directed to the immaculate victim who is going to receive communion. In such a way that it is for her own salvation. That is, the priest does not invoke the Holy Spirit on the gifts, but on the assembly, which will receive those already consecrated gifts. Which is reflected in the prayer:

‘we ask that the Holy Spirit unite all of us who participate in the Body and blood of Christ’.

What is epiclesis and anamnesis?

Together they represent remembering the sacrifice of Christ. Both being the center of every sacramental celebration. Anamnesis comes from the Greek and means the memory of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. An example of this is exclaimed by Lc 22,19: Do this in memory of me. In which the Master asks his disciples to continue with the Eucharist.

In this way, the church remember the memory of Jesus Christ, through the Eucharistic liturgy. Because that’s how he asked his disciples. As a memorial of the sacrifice made by the Messiah. And it is during the epiclesis that this sacramental sign is made present by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is here where the saving act that Jesus Christ did is revealed, it is not only the paschal memory, but the memory of all the mysteries of the Messiah, that is why it is considered Christocentric.