David's Dialogues

Fr. David Colhour, C.P.The Eucharistic Prayer concludes with the Doxology. Last week I mentioned how the doxology is about giving right praise and glory to God. The Eucharistic prayer should build towards the crescendo of the doxology. Ideally, music begins lifting us up. The words of praise to God sung by the priest and other presbyters take us a bit higher, and finally the entire congregation responds with a loud “ Amen.” Even this great Amen is recorded in St. Justin’s writings from the middle of the second century. Here is what St. Justin writes, “The president in the same manner sends up prayers and Thanksgiving, according to his ability, and the people sing out their assent, saying the 'Amen.'”

I have been asked numerous times about when is the appropriate time to stand up. People tell me that different churches have different practices for this. Some stand during the Amen. Others stand for the doxology or during the doxology. The answer to this question is frequently under discussion or debate. Simply put, many argue that if your attention is trying to get your body to stand up then you are not singing from your heart of God’s greatness and praising God with your whole being.

I didn’t realize it till I was doing some reading for this column that the acclamation after the Our Father is also a doxology, a right praise of God. Surely you recognize this, “For the kingdom, the power and the Glory are yours, now and forever.” Therefore, in the Latin Rite church, the prayer that Jesus taught us is sandwiched in-between two doxologies.

Most of us are only familiar with the Latin Rite churches. All of what I’ve written in this series applies only to the Latin Rite liturgy. Other Rites have much different liturgies. One Rite I attended even has the Lord’s Prayer toward the beginning of the Liturgy. For us, it has been placed here almost as a transition from the Eucharistic Prayer to the Fraction Rite. It specifically highlights our daily bread and the forgiveness of sins. Notice that the tone of the liturgy changes. We have spent time listening to God’s word. We have given thanks. We’ve connected to the realms of heavenly hosts, and now we prepare ourselves to break the bread that we will receive. Lord, we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Our entire existence is a gift from God. We rely on God for sustenance and provisions. We trust God will provide us with all that we need, even if we don’t get the things we want. And we all know that some days what we need is not always what we want.

But it also ties in with the forgiveness of sins. What many people don't know is that in the early church the Sacrament of Reconciliation hadn’t been developed. Eucharist WAS reconciliation. Matthew set the bar very high when he said, If you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar and go, first be reconciled with your brother (Mt5:23-24). The perfect disciple for Matthew was one who received the Eucharist having done the work of reconciliation beforehand. So with a pure heart, one can offer their gift to the Lord. I’ll say more about this next week.

In the meantime, another doxology: Glory Be to the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.