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Anaphoras

The Anaphora is the most solemn part of the Divine Liturgy, during which the offerings of bread and wine are consecrated as the body and blood of Christ. Anaphora is the usual name for this part of the Liturgy in Greek-speaking Eastern Christianity. In western tradition, the part of the mass during which the host is consecrated is called the Roman Canon in the Latin Mass, or the Eucharistic Prayer in the Ordinary Form.

"Anaphora" is a Greek word meaning a "carrying back" or "carrying up", hence its use in reference to the offering of sacrifice to God. Variations in the way in which the consecration is referred to in Eastern vs. Western rites are summarized here:

Terms for the Consecration

  • Eucharistic Prayer — used in the Ordinary Form of the Roman mass to describe the Consecration. There are four variations of the Eucharistic prayer authorized for use in the Novus Ordo. The four Eucharistic prayers are called Eucharistic Pray I, II, III and IV, and in most cases a priest is free to choose which Eucharistic prayer he uses when celebrating mass.
  • Canon of the Mass — used in the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass) to describe the Consecration. It is essentially a fixed prayer, allowing variation in only the Preface.
  • Anaphora — used to refer to the Consecration in the Divine Liturgy of most eastern rites. In Eastern rites several prayers within the Anaphora vary by the rite and type of celebration. Anaphoras are typically named after a great saint they are associated with, such as the Anaphora of John Chrysostrom, or the Anaphora of St. Basil.

    The number of Anaphoras used in the Eastern liturgy also depends on the particular Rite. The Catholic Byzantine Rite, for example has three Anaphoras (Basil, James, John Chrysostrom), while the Syric rite has Twelve. And to complicate things further, the selection of which Anaphora is used for a particular mass is fixed based on the liturgical calendar, rather than being chosen by the celebrant.

Prayers for the Consecration

The prayers of the consecration follow a particular order, and have specific meanings. Together, they make up the "Form" of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. These terms are used to describe specific parts of the Eucharistic prayer that contain the key elements of a valid consecration.

  • Oblation — This word means 'sacrifice' and it refers to the offering of the Eucharistic bread and wine and of the prayers and thanksgiving of faithful.
  • Epiclesis — This is the "invocation" wherein the priest calls down the blessing of the Holy Spirit upon the Eucharistic bread and wine.
  • Institution narrative — These are the words of Jesus Christ taken from the Gospel account of the Last Supper, which are spoken by the priest to change the bread and wine into his body and blood.
  • Anamnesis — This is the statement, following the consecration, in which the priest refers to the Eucharist as a memorial to the passion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.
  • Intercessions — These are prayers in which the priest asks for God's help for all the faithful, living and dead through the grace given by the Eucharist. When mass is offered for a specific person, their names are included along with the saints, leaders of the Church, and others.
  • Doxology — This is a hymn of praise to the trinity, prayed while the priest elevates the consecrated host at the close of the Anaphora.