CCD Grade 5
One day, I was using the Holy Qurbana book during Holy Mass and my eyes got stuck on a strange word I didn’t know. I was perplexed and asked my parents who were next to me, what the word actually meant. Then, I heard the bell ringing at the altar and I looked around and saw people bowing their heads. Can you guess what the word was? The word was “epiclesis!” I was fascinated by what this meant, so I decided to go home, and read more about epiclesis.
Epiclesis is an ancient Greek word which means “invocation.” It is the invocation of the Holy Spirit to call upon the Eucharist offering of bread and wine. When the Holy Spirit descends upon the bread and wine, it gets transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ through a process called transubstantiation.in other words, the bread and wine become the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus. Epiclesis is one of the most important parts of the Holy Qurbana. Many Catholic scholars say that epiclesis is the climax of Eurcharistic mystery.
During epiclesis, the priest holds his hands over the sacred mysteries in the sign of the cross. He prays for the Holy Spirit to descend, dwell, and sanctify the sacred mysteries to transform them into the body and blood of Christ. He also prays for the sanctification of the whole assembly gathered in the church. During this time, the priest also implores those who receive the mysteries to be granted remission of debts, the forgiveness of sins, great hope in the resurrection of the dead, and a new life in heaven.
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, played a paramount role in the incarnation, public ministry, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God. Likewise, the Holy Spirit also plays a significant role in the Holy Qurbana which is the commemoration of the birth, life, death, resurrection, and the second coming of Jesus Christ. During Epiclesis, the priest offers the prayer to the Father to send His Spirit on the offering and transform the offering to the resurrected, everliving body of Jesus Christ, the son of God. The Holy Spirit is the divine agent of sanctification. Cyrill of Jerusalem, one of the early church fathers, teaches us that whatever the Holy Spirit touches becomes hallowed and transformed entirely. So, when we receive the holy Body and Blood of Christ worthily, we also become sanctified and transformed.
Epiclesis starts with the exhortation prayer by the altar server, “Let us pray in silence and reverence. Peace be with us.” Next time, when we attend Holy Qurbana and hear this exhortation, let us all bow our heads, and pray to the Holy Spirit to descend upon and sanctify the sacred mysteries. Let us also pray to the Holy Spirit to come upon us and dwell in us, the same way He came upon the Apostles during the day of Pentecost as tongues of fire. Then, the Holy Spirit will sanctify and strengthen us to become children of God and help us to preach the word of God through our lives to others around us.