Monday, August 11, 2008

An epiclesian ramble

Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man
and drink his blood,
ye have not life in yourselves.
John 6:53 RV
I have had my interest in the epiclesis reignited in the last week or so.
A series of incidents and talks have made it central to my thinking once more.

The other week, I was engaged in a talk about OLM's (Ordained Local Ministers), like part time priests, I guess. The idea of lay presidency is something I don't approve of.

I suppose this comes down to my Eucharistic Theology.

I believe the bread and wine do become the body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist. I believe thsi is done during the epiclesis, or invocation of the Holy Spirit over the elements.

During the aforementioned talk, this part was referred to as "the magic bit". A bit dumb really, but the point is there. To use the term "magic" is deliberately disparaging, and offensive really. The point being made is that the priest at this point is invoking the Holy Spirit and changing the elements. The point being made is that anyone can do this, or, far more likely, that it is not needed.


Anyway, the epiclesis is easily one of the most sacred and profound moments within the Liturgy. It is a moment that calls for still reverence. Truly wonderful; a time when the reality of what the sacraments are is unavoidable. One can feel the infinite becoming temporal.

Here are my two favourite epiclesis'.

Hear us,
O Merciful Father,
we most humbly beseech thee,
and with thy Holy and Life-giving Spirit
vouchsafe to bless and sanctify both us and these thy gifts of Bread and Wine,
that they may be unto us the Body and Blood of thy Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
to the end that,
receiving the same,
we may be strengthened and refreshed both in body and soul.
Epiclesis BCP 1928

Hear us, merciful Lord;
through Christ accept our sacrifice of praise;
and, by the power of your Word and Holy Spirit,
sanctify this bread and wine,
that we who share in this holy sacrament may be partakers of Christ’s body and blood
Thanksgiving 3 Australian Prayer Book

No comments: