Why the words of Epiclesis are pronounced after the consecration of bread and wine. Are the words of Epiclesis an element of consecration? What’s the moment when the bread and the wine are the Body and Blood of Christ? Before or after Epiclesis? If the priest doesn’t pronounce the words of Epiclesis, there is no consecration?
The Bishop Answers
Dear Friend: The Greek word for Sacraments in our Eastern tradition is “Mysteria”, i.e. “Mysteries”. A sacrament is a mysterious action which makes God’s beneficial presence felt and real. We should not bind God to a single word or gesture, as through a magic formula. The whole action constitutes the “Mystery.” In the Roman Canon (which we call “Anaphore”) the Epiclesis is said before the words of “Consecration.” In the Eastern tradition, we have the Epiclesis after the same words which we call “words of Institution.” In our belief, the action is not complete until God the Father “in the good pleasure of (His) bounty, makes (His) Holy Spirit come down upon us and upon the present gifts here offered and bless and sanctify them and reveal this bread to be truly the precious body of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, etc.” (Liturgy of St. Basil) There is no magic moment or formula or word or syllable, which effects the presence of God and makes it complete; but the whole action makes God’s presence effective and real.