Colloquia Theologica Ottoniana (Dec 2021)

The role of the epiclesis in transubstantiation

  • Jozef Krupa

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 37


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The official doctrine of the Catholic Church, contained in the magisterial documents, is still evolving. One recent example is the teaching on who is involved in transubstantiation in the Eucharist. In the Christian West, the words of institution have been emphasized for centuries, while in the Christian East, it has been the epiclesis since the fourth century. Some Catholic theologians explicitly stated that the epiclesis also participates in the conversion of bread and wine, even before the promulgation of this doctrine in the magisterial documents. The doctrinal shift in the Catholic Church regarding the topic of the epiclesis manifested itself in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in number 1105: “The Epiclesis is the intercession in which the priest begs the Father to send the Holy Spirit […], so that the offerings may become the body and blood of Christ.” In number 1353: “In the epiclesis, the Church asks the Father to send his Holy Spirit on the bread and wine, so that by his power they may become the body and blood of Jesus Christ […]. In the institution narrative, the power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, […].” In numbers 1333 and 1357 and also in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal in article 79 c: “The epiclesis, in which, by means of particular invocations, the Church implores the power of the Holy Spirit that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated, that is, become Christ’s Body and Blood [...].”