Words of Institution

I recently read about the East Syrian Liturgy of Addai and Mari, which the Vatican has recognized as valid in 2001, even though it lacks the words “this is my body” and “this is my blood”. Apparantly, the Eastern Rite churches claim that consecration happens primarily through the words of the Epiclesis, and not the Words of Institution, while in Catholicism it’s viewed the other way round. Here’s a good essay on the differing stances from a Catholic point of view: Consecration in the Anaphora of Addai & Mari

As someone who prefers the traditional Mass, I found this quite eye-opening. After all, traditionalism is also a lot about word-for-word fidelity to the traditional texts. Many traditionalists made a big deal of the *pro multis=for all *translation, some going as far as heretically claiming the consecration isn’t valid if the priest doesn’t use the proper translation. During Mass, when the priest is silently speaking the sacred words, the host and chalice out of my sight on the altar, I often wonder in awe at what exact moment the Lord himself comes down into the bread and wine. During the words? After them? Nativity and Passion on the same altar!

But as faithful as we need to be to the traditional wording of all prayers in Mass due to it’s holiness, this difference between Eastern and Latin Rite also made me become much more acutely aware that consecration isn’t some occult magical spell which transsubstantiates bread and wine. It’s by the authority of the Church, which formulates these Words of Institution and then utters them through the mouth of the “other Christ” (i.e., the priest), that the miracle occurs!

Good post.

I hate resurrect a dead thread, but the first post is quite excellent. Bravo.

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