Per Quem Haec Omnia

Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in presence of God Father and the Holy Spirit (Annakirche, Vienna)
Detail – Glory of the New Born Christ in presence of God Father and the Holy Spirit (Annakirche, Vienna)

Per Quem Haec Omnia – English

Through whom you continue to make all these good things, O Lord; you sanctify them, fill them with life, bless them, and bestow them upon us. 

Priest:  Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever. 

People:  Amen.

Per Quem Haec Omnia – Latin

Per quem haec omnia, Domine, semper bona creas, sanctificas, vivificas, benedicis, et praestas nobis.

Priest: Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria per omnia saecula saeculorum. 

People: Amen.

Per Quem Haec Omnia, Part 1

Through whom you continue to make all these good things, O Lord; you sanctify them, fill them with life, bless them, and bestow them upon us.

            Through our Lord Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Father grants us “all these good things.” Let us pause now, near the end of the Roman Canon to review what we have asked of God. The priest began by asking God to accept and bless what is being offered, both the bread and wine and our own self-offerings. We have asked for peace, guidance, unity, and governance in the Church.

            The priest then asked to look favorably upon the sacrifice of praise offered by all the people present and for those that they hold dear. We prayed in thanksgiving for the redemption of our souls through the Sacrifice of Christ, and we asked in hope for health and well-being. We called to mind explicitly that we are asking for these good things in communion with the blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and all the blessed Apostles and Martyrs. Not only are we in communion with them, but they are praying for us and with us!

            We, further, asked for God to accept the offering of our service and that of His entire family, the Church. The priest, acting in the Person of Christ the Head, calls down the power of the Holy Spirit upon the gifts and asked that the bread and wine, and our own offerings, be made spiritual and acceptable that they may become Jesus Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. We asked that our days be ordered in His peace and that we be delivered from the eternal punishment of Hell. We asked that we be among the flock of the elect of God.

            Then, at the hands of the priest, in and through Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the words of consecration are prayed over the bread and wine and these gifts become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. This moment is not a re-enactment of the Last Supper. It is the coming present once again of the saving Action of Jesus Christ: His Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension into Heaven. Jesus Christ, the Holy Victim, our Great High Priest, and the Holy Bread of Eternal Life offered Himself once and for all for our salvation on the Cross and He makes this one Sacrifice truly present again under the veil of sacramental signs and symbols.

            We recall, as sons and daughters of Abraham through adoption in Baptism, the history of the People of God, referring to Abel, Abraham, and Melchizedek. This great offering is borne by the hands of the great Messenger and Mediator to Heaven, Jesus Christ, to the altar of the Father in Heaven. Through our participation in this offering of the Son to the Father in the Spirit, we receive the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Son of God and are filled with every grace and heavenly blessing as a result.

            Then, we remember our honored dead and ask that they may receive a share in eternal life. We entrust those who have died to the mercy of Almighty God. Echoing the beginning of Mass when we ask for forgiveness, we acclaim once again that we are sinners in hope of the abundant mercy of God. We ask to be granted some share in fellowship with the Holy Apostles. We are already in communion with them and we are asking here that this communion might be perfected by our own entering into Heaven. Because we are sinners, we ask once again for pardon for our offenses against God and attest that our own merits do not “earn” us a place in Heaven.

            This is the Roman Canon. This is the core faith of the Church. What we pray for shows clearly what we believe. We attest here that God created everything but He also continues to create and sustain everything. We are completely reliant on Him. All good things are made holy by God, filled with life by Him, blessed by Him, and bestowed on us by Him. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Thanks be to God for His great love and mercy.

Per Quem Haec Omnia, Part 2

Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever.

            Nearing the end of the Roman Canon, we claim the truth once more. This entire Action, and truly the whole of the Holy Mass, is the action of God. The chief mover in the Liturgy is our High Priest, Jesus Christ. Every action in the Holy Mass is performed by Jesus Christ, whether at the hands of the priest or by the prayers and participation of the people. The priest acts, by his ordained priesthood, in the Person of Christ the Head of His Body. The people act, by their baptized priesthood, in the Person of Christ the Member of His Body.

            The angels and the saints take part in the Heavenly Banquet and are, thus, present and active in the Holy Mass by the power of God. This meeting of heaven and earth, of the transcendent and the immanent, of the material and the spiritual, is possible through Jesus Christ. It is His mediation which connects us to Heaven. It is through His power which allows the events of two thousand or more years ago to come present to us once again today.

            The priest and the people do not offer the Sacrifice of the Mass by themselves. The rituals of the Mass are not possible without the saving power of Jesus Christ and the power and working of the Holy Spirit. The entire prayer of the Mass, especially the Roman Canon, is offered with Jesus Christ. We are joined as Members of His Mystical Body through Baptism and He is with us. Truly, His actions lead our own. Put another way, He calls and we respond. He acts and we act with Him.

            Each and every single Mass has infinite and superabundant power and worth. In our Lord Jesus Christ, all things are brought to perfection. His actions are always directed to our Father in Heaven. The Church, the Mass, and all things are the action of the Blessed Trinity. So, the Holy Spirit is active and operative in our lives, but especially in the Sacraments. Indeed, the Eucharist is called the Sacrament of Sacraments. Our whole Christian life, including all of the grace we receive within or outside of the Sacraments is ordered to the Holy Eucharist.

            This final phrase given to us by the Church to close the Roman Canon might seem like a simple declaration of praise, but it is the key to understanding Catholic worship. “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever.” Do we go to Mass to receive the gifts that God wants to bestow upon us? This is the view that many within the Church hold. We go to Mass to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Of course, if we are in a state of grace, we have the honor and profound privilege of receiving our Lord in the Eucharist. But why do we go to Mass? Is it to receive or to give?

            The key is this: “all glory and honor is yours.” We recognize that we have come to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass with our full, conscious, and actual participation for one primary purpose: to give glory and honor to the Father. Almighty God does not need our worship, but He delights in it. We have freedom and the free self-gift of His son or daughter is His delight. If we come to Mass primarily to receive, we are not coming for the right reasons. If we say, “I did not get anything out of Mass today,” then we have a wrong understanding of the Sacred Liturgy. We should not say, “I did not get.” We should instead say, “Did I give my all to my Heavenly Father?”

Per Quem Haec Omnia, Part 3

Amen.

            In the Second Century, St. Justin Martyr writes in his Apologia that after the prayers of thanksgiving and consecration were finished by the priest, all responded by saying “Amen.” This is not simply a word found at the end of a conversation. It is not like saying, “Ok. Goodbye, God,” after a prayer is finished. St. Paul writes, “Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?” So, it would seem that the word Amen packs a punch. But what does it mean?

            Amen is a Hebrew word which means “so be it.” St. Augustine translated it as it is true (Latin: verum est).” In a tract explaining the Mass from the Middle Ages, we read, “Amen is a ratification by the people of what has been spoken, and it may be interpreted in our language as if they all said: May it so be done as the priest has prayed (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907).”

            It is custom in most of the Rites of the Catholic Church, both East and West, to say “Amen” after receiving Holy Communion. In Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the priest says, “Corpus Domini Nostri Iesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam, Amen (May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting. Amen).” So, even though the communicant does not say “Amen” like in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, the priest has said “Amen” for them.

            The language of “Amen” seems to be like a contract. When two people enter into an agreement with one another, they may mark it with a handshake and say, “so be it” or “I agree.” Is that what is happening at Mass? Certainly, what we are entering into at Mass is far more important, meaningful, lasting, and beautiful. Perhaps more than a contract, the “Amen” shows us that the language of the Mass is that of a covenant. A contract can be broken. A covenant cannot be broken.

            When we approach our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, we are approaching the Bridegroom as the Bride. We are uttering our wedding vows to the King of Heaven each time we receive Holy Communion. We are saying, “I do” when we say “Amen.” The meaning of the word is very close to this understanding. We are using the language of marriage to show that we are accepting the Bridegroom into our body and soul to remain with us always. As husband and wife become one flesh in marriage, the communicant and our Lord become one in the Eucharist. “Communion” means “one with.” We are becoming more closely joined to the Lord in reception of Holy Communion.

            Every time we say “Amen” we should call to mind clearly what we are doing. We are giving our assent of Faith. We are not saying “Okay” or “Sure”, we are saying “so be it.” Do we know what we are saying “yes” to? Do we know what we entering into? Our “yes” to God cannot be half-hearted or wishy-washy. It must be sure and resolute, by His grace. Our Lord Jesus is a strong proponent of authenticity and resolution. We hear in the Book of Revelation: “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (Rev. 3:16).” And in the Gospel of St. Matthew: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil (Mt. 5:37).” Let our Amen mean Amen.

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