By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anticipating the Consecration

During the Nicene Creed, we bow in profound reverence at the mention of these words which we simultaneously recite out loud: "and by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man" (the new English translation of the Mass, to be introduced presumably in the near future, will read as follows: "and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man").nbyhe Holy S
We bow at the Incarnation as we repeat these words. This gesture of reverence by all the laity and the clergy at the Mass comes before the Eucharistic liturgy where, at the consecration, Jesus becomes really present under the appearances of bread and wine.

How interesting and appropriate that we lay people as members of the common baptismal priesthood anticipate the eucharistic consecration of the ordained priest when we say and bow at the words signifying the becoming flesh of the Son of God. This anticipation of what the ordained priest will do in the Eucharistic Liturgy is a reminder of our common baptismal priesthood, something many Catholics tend to forget and even some clergy tend to deemphasize. Yet, the anticipation by witnessing in word and posture to the Incarnation in the creed is a powerful reminder that we are all priests in one form or another.

St. Leo the Great put it this way:

The sign of the cross makes kings of all those reborn in Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit consecrates them as priests, so that, apart from the particular service of our ministry, all spiritual and rational Christians are recognized as members of this royal race and sharers in Christ's priestly office. What, indeed, is as royal for a soul as to govern the body in obedience to God? And what is as priestly as to dedicate a pure conscience to the Lord and to offer the spotless offerings of devotion on the altar of the heart?

Quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church at Section 786.