reciting the words of Jesus from the Last Supper, the presider of the Mass
shows the consecrated bread and wine to the assembly. His gesture is called
the elevation. With each elevation he actually performs two actions. He
shows the body and blood of Christ to everyone else, and then he genuflects
is no explicit instruction for what the assembly is to do during the elevation.
However, because the presider is instructed to show them the sacred elements,
the obvious conclusion is that they should watch. Many worshipers lower
their eyes and bow their heads in adoration as the presider performs the
elevation. This bow, well meaning in its devotion, probably belongs more
with the genuflection that follows the elevation.
elevation of the consecrated bread at Mass began in 13th-century Paris
in an effort to bolster belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Heresies expressing the contrary were flourishing. Because eucharistic
devotion at the time focused on the consecrated bread rather than on the
cup, the elevation of the cup was only added later.
some presiders lift the consecrated bread and wine very high at this point
of the Mass, height belongs more to the doxology that concludes the eucharistic
prayer, to signify the offering to God. The elevation had to be high when
the elevation first appeared in the Mass because the priest, standing with
his back to the people, had to raise the elements high enough to be seen.
elevation permits the assembly to acknowledge their faith in the real presence
of Christ in the Eucharist. Bells and incense may accompany it. Traditionally,
many Catholics pray, “My Lord and my God” and “My Jesus, mercy,” as the
priest lifts the body and blood of Christ.
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Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate
in sacramental theology from Sant' Anselmo University in Rome.