Word of life

The Epiclesis /Part three: The Epiclesis – How to experience the Epiclesis in the Liturgy/

The Epiclesis is the invocation of the Holy Spirit both on us and on the gifts. It has three parts:

1) The priest kneels and implores God in a spirit: Send down the Holy Spirit upon us (Note: Throughout the Epiclesis, the chorus sings the antiphon: “We praise You...” or there is silence).

God promises through the prophet Ezekiel (37): “Behold, I will send spirit into you, and you shall live.” – We beseech in spirit: Lord, give us the Spirit of repentance, that we may live!

“I will put sinews on you” – Put sinews on us – the gift of prayer!

“I will bring flesh upon you” – Fill us with the power of Your commandments!

“I will cover you with protective skin” – Give us living communities!

“I will put Spirit in you, and you shall live” – Put the fullness of the Spirit in us, that we may live! Ye-ho-shu-aaa

2) The priest stands up, approaches the altar, extends his hands over the gifts and entreats silently: Send down Your Holy Spirit upon these gifts here present.” He realizes that he is in God’s presence in the pillar of light, where God’s almighty power works. Then three times silently he calls on the name of the Saviour, Yehoshua.

When calling on God’s name for the first time, he turns to God with the confession: You have created me and keep me in existence. Second time: Jesus, You have redeemed me by Your death on the cross. And in the third invocation of God’s name (Yehoshua) he realizes that now the Holy Spirit is making present Christ’s death on the altar. Then he makes the sign of the cross over the blessed bread, saying quietly, “And make this bread the precious Body of Your Christ.”

Thereupon, when breathing in, he unites with the Holy Spirit, and breathing out onto the bread, he says in thought, “Changing it by Your Holy Spirit!” Then he says quietly, “Amen!” The words of Jesus are fulfilled: “This is My body, which is given for you.”

Again, he realizes the reality of God’s omnipotence and pronounces three times God’s name Yehoshua. With the first invocation he turns to God again, confessing: You have created me, You keep me in existence. In the second invocation: Jesus, You have redeemed me by Your death on the cross. And in the third invocation of God’s name (Yehoshua), he realizes that the Holy Spirit, by His almighty power, now works the Transubstantiation (Consecration) in a mysterious way. The priest makes the sign of the cross over the chalice and says quietly, “And [make] that which is in this chalice the precious Blood of Your Christ.” He unites with the Holy Spirit again when breathing in and when breathing out onto the chalice he says in thought, “Changing it by Your Holy Spirit!” And he adds quietly, “Amen!” The words of Jesus are fulfilled: “This is My blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins.”

Then, for a short while, he offers Christ’s Body and Blood to the Heavenly Father with faith for himself “and for many”.

3) The priest descends the altar, kneels and bows to the ground (he can even touch the ground with his forehead), knowing that the real Body and the real Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ are on the altar. He remains kneeling in the awareness that the words of the Epiclesis, Changing them by Your Holy Spirit!” refer even to the baptized and to many. By the prophetic authority, given by God to Ezekiel (37:9), he turns to the Spirit of God with a supplication for those who, though baptized, are spiritually dead. He implores in silence:

Come, O Spirit, and breathe on these slain, that they may live in the east!” and slowly utters God’s name with faith again (Yehoshua).

That they may live in the south!” (Yehoshua)

That they may live in the west!” (Yehoshua)

That they may live in the north!” (Yehoshua)

At the conclusion of the Epiclesis, the priest emphasizes in a low voice: “Changing them by Your Holy Spirit!” and adds: “Amen, amen, amen!” The Epiclesis is thus accomplished.

The priest stands up and worships Christ, present on the altar, with fragrant incense, and also censes the people – the Mystical Body of Christ.

Note: This is one of the ways how to experience the Epiclesis, as practised in some monasteries.

The name of God is emphasized and invoked in the whole Scripture. Our salvation is in this holy name (cf. Rom 10:13).

+ Elijah
Patriarch of the Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate

+ Methodius OSBMr + Timothy OSBMr
Secretary Bishops

25 November 2018