This, Too, Is My Body

WHEN DOES THE CONSECRATION HAPPEN?

This year marks the fifth anniversary of a Vatican document about which most Catholics know very little, Guidelines for Admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. It was signed on July 20, 2001, but it has had little effect on how Catholics think about the statement’s core issue: the nature of the Eucharistic Prayer, the “center and summit” of the Mass.

The document was approved by three Vatican dicasteries-the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith-and by Pope John Paul II. And it has been called “the most remarkable Catholic magisterial document since Vatican II” by Robert Taft, SJ, professor emeritus at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. It acknowledges, albeit quietly, that the ancient Assyrian Church of the East is a “true particular” church “built upon orthodox faith and apostolic succession.” But the real eye-opener is that the Vatican acknowledges the anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer) of this “true” church as valid, licit, and legitimate, and this despite the fact that this ancient prayer lacks the Words of Institution: “This is my body....This is my blood.”

The Eucharistic Prayer of the Assyrian Church of the East is referred to as the Anaphora of Addai and Mari. Addai and Mari were second-century Christians who lived in the area of modern...

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About the Author

Mark Plaiss, a deacon in the Diocese of Gary, Indiana, is the author of The Inner Room (St. Anthony Messenger Press).