The great Eucharistic Prayer at Mass has three most important elements. We have noted the first two in recent articles: the epiclesis (when the Holy Spirit is “called down” upon the bread and wine) and the consecration of those gifts into Christ’s own Body and Blood. Are you ready to find out about the third?
I’m sorry to say that it’s got another tough name, anamnesis (ah-nahm-NEE-sis), the Greek word for “memorial.” We remember something . . . but what exactly?
At the Last Supper, after identifying Himself with broken-bread and wine-poured-out – references to His approaching death – Jesus told His disciples “Do this in memory of me.” The Church ever since has remembered His ultimate sacrifice.
So, right after the consecration, the priest explicitly calls to mind in prayer Christ’s saving death-and-resurrection. Anamnesis is the name of that prayer. We not only remember the Lord’s self-gift in holy communion – the “unbloody” sacrifice – but also the bloody sacrifice of His life for us on the cross. We deliberately remember something awful, because that same thing was something wonderful. Jesus overcame death by dying, and asking us to remember His passion for all time. And so we do!