I want to focus our attention this Lenten season on the Eucharistic Prayer of the Holy Mass. This Sunday’s reading from Genesis is a perfect place to start. God establishes a covenant with Noah, the first of many such covenants. God sets the rainbow in the sky to remind us of God’s promise to all creation. God will not destroy what He has made. We are good, and we are made for good by God. The terms of this covenant are simple: God made us for union with Himself; we respond to God’s benevolence by living according to God’s will. God destroyed the sin of the world to allow his chosen family to start fresh and rebuild human society in union with God.
Our celebration of the Holy Mass is the living expression of the New Covenant sealed with the Blood of Jesus Christ, the one perfect sacrifice for all time. The pale ethereal symbol of the rainbow gives way to the real, substantial, tangible presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus Himself reconciles us to God the Father in the offering of bread and wine from creation to become the Body and Blood of Jesus the Living God. This, then, is the offering made by Jesus on behalf of humanity and received by God as the sign and the presence of God’s covenant with us. What we do at Mass is therefore the most important thing humanity has ever done and could ever do! We take part in the covenant sacrifice of Jesus, renewing this bond with God each week or, if we are able, each day of our lives here on earth.
The first part of the Eucharistic Prayer lays out the covenant and reminds us of what we are doing. The priest invites us to lift our hearts up to God. We leave our earthly cares for a moment and raise our hearts and minds to heaven. The Preface addresses God with a remembrance of what God has done for us. This reminds us of God’s benevolence in history even as it expresses our joyful thanks for that benevolence.
The singing of Holy, Holy, Holy next draws us into the presence of Almighty God, uniting our voices with those of the angels in heaven. The Mass brings together heaven and earth and the covenant bond between God and man is realized. We unite heaven and earth as the Body of Christ, the Church, and what Jesus accomplished by His Death and Resurrection is made present to us. The Mass makes heaven present on earth and makes us one with the Church Triumphant in heaven and the Church Suffering in purgatory. The communion of saints is realized in this sacred act.
The stage is now set, the Covenant has been recalled, and we are prepared to offer our gifts to the Father.