Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  339 / 904 Next Page
Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 339 / 904 Next Page
Page Background

The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

339

of the Eucharist has been continued so that today we encounter it

everywhere in the Church with the same fundamental structure. It

remains the center of the Church’s life.

1344

Thus from celebration to celebration, as they proclaim the

Paschal mystery of Jesus “until he comes,” the pilgrim People of

God advances, “following the narrowway of the cross,”

170

toward

the heavenly banquet, when all the elect will be seated at the table

of the kingdom.

IV.

T

he

L

iturgical

C

elebration of

the

E

ucharist

The Mass of all ages

1345

As early as the second century we have the witness of St.

JustinMartyr for the basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebra-

tion. They have stayed the same until our own day for all the great

liturgical families. St. Justin wrote to the pagan emperor Antoninus

Pius (138-161) around the year 155, explaining what Christians did:

On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the

city or country gather in the same place.

Thememoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets

are read, as much as time permits.

When the reader has finished, he who presides over those

gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these

beautiful things.

Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .

and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be

found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the

commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.

When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.

Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine

mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.

He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of

the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy

Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek:

eucharistian

) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.

When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all

present give voice to an acclamation by saying: ‘Amen.’

When he who presides has given thanks and the people have

responded, those whom we call deacons give to those pre­

sent the “eucharisted” bread, wine and water and take them

to those who are absent.

171

170

AG

1; cf.

1 Cor

11:26.

171 St. Justin,

Apol.

1, 65-67: PG 6, 428-429; the text before the asterisk (*) is

from chap. 67.

1404