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The epiclesis (also spelled epiklesis; from Ancient Greek: ἐπίκλησις "surname" or "invocation") refers to the invocation of one or several gods. In ancient Greek religion, the epiclesis was the epithet used as the surname given to a deity in religious contexts. The term was borrowed into the Christian tradition, where it designates the part of the Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer) by which the priest invokes the Holy Spirit (or the power of God's blessing) upon the Eucharistic bread and wine in some Christian churches. In most Eastern Christian traditions, the Epiclesis comes after the Anamnesis (remembrance of Jesus' words and deeds); in the Western Rite it usually precedes. In the historic practice of the Western Christian Churches, the consecration is effected at the Words of Institution though during the rise of the Liturgical Movement, many denominations introduced an explicit epiclesis in their liturgies.
The Ancient Greek term epíklēsis (ἐπίκλησις; literally 'calling upon') can be translated as 'surname, additional name', or as 'invocation, appeal'.
In ancient Greek religion, the epiclesis was used as the surname that was associated with a deity during religious invocations, in contrast to the more general term 'epithet' (ἐπίθετον), which is used in poetic contexts. In the 2nd century AD, the Greek geographer Pausanias used the term 'epiclesis' to designate the appellation under which a deity was honoured in specific places or occasions.
In the Catholic Church, the Words of Institution are considered to be the moment of Transubstantiation (when, according to religious tradition, the eucharistic elements would change from bread and wine into the actual Body and Blood of Christ). In 2001, in the Ponitifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on admission to the Eucharist between Chaldean Catholic Church and Assyrian Church of the East issued a statement stating that the Words of Institution are dispersed euchologically in Liturgy of Addai and Mari, wherein the words are stated not in immediate sequence but throughout the Liturgy. The Eastern Orthodox Churches hold the Epiclesis is believed to be the moment at which this change is completed. However, the actual process of change is not considered to begin at this moment, but begins with the Liturgy of Preparation—it is merely completed at the Epiclesis.
In the 20th century, when Western Rite Orthodox parishes began to be established, liturgies were derived from Catholic Latin liturgical rites and Anglican Book of Common Prayer. These liturgies saw a "stronger" Epiclesis inserted, as to better align them with the Byzantine liturgy.
In its pure form, the ancient anaphora of the Divine Liturgy of Addai and Mari used in the Church of the East (East Syriac Rite) does include an epiclesis. It does not use the Words of Institution, although they appear directly and indirectly in other parts of the rite (and is therefore considered to be implicit).
In the Liturgy of Saint James, according to the form in which it is celebrated on the island of Zakynthos, Greece, the anaphora is as follows:
In the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom an epiclesis is present (explicit); the priest says:
In the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great according to the Greek recension of the prayers, the liturgical actions described above for the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom are the same. The formula is as follows:[This quote needs a citation]
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that "The Epiclesis ("invocation upon") is the intercession in which the priest begs the Father to send the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, so that the offerings may become the body and blood of Christ and that the faithful by receiving them, may themselves become a living offering to God." Still later it asserts, "At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood."
In the 1962 Roman Missal, the prayer Quam oblationem of the Roman Canon has been interpreted as an "implicit" epiclesis. Josef Jungmann supported this view that the Quam oblationem "is a plea for the final hallowing of the earthly gift."
In the 1962 Canon, the priest begins the Quam oblation with hands folded, opens them placing his left hand on his chest and then makes three are large signs of the cross with his extended right hand over both bread and wine as indicated by "+" in between the words benedictam (blessed), adscriptam (approved), ratam (ratified), below. The fourth sign of the cross is made over the bread and the fifth over the wine at the words Corpus and Sanguis, respectively. The prayer is immediately followed by the Institution Narrative with the words of Jesus Christ.
Nicholas Cabasilas, a 14th-century Eastern Orthodox writer, held that the Roman Canon did not solely consecrate via the Words of Institution–which was typically identified as the consecratory element by contemporaneous Latin theologians–but instead retained an implicit epiclesis in the Supplices te rogamus that was the consecratory element. Responding to Latin criticisms of Greek emphasis on the epiclesis, Cabasilas asserted the epiclesis as a necessary component of Eucharistic consecration. However, Cabasilas clarified that the epiclesis and Words of Institution are interdependent in order to create an effectual anaphora. Ultimately, Cabasilas assessed that while some Latin liturgical practices appeared errant, the Latin doctrine of the Eucharist was identical to that Eastern Orthodox and that there was a mostly shared ritual practice. At the Council of Florence, Cabasilas's necessity of the epiclesis was challenged and ultimately rejected by Latin theologians; modern Catholic teaching is generally more receptive of Cabasilas. As a result, Cabasilas's work remains a frequent point of discussion in ecumenical dialogues."
In Western Rite Orthodox parishes, an epiclesis, modified from that of the Byzantine Rite Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, is inserted into the Roman Canon, immediately before the Supplices. The addition of an epiclesis was originally suggested by Joseph Overbeck, the first person to make serious petitions for the restoration of an Orthodox western rite. This opinion on the need of an epiclesis was shared by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, who added an epiclesis to the modified book of common prayer, later known as the Divine Liturgy of St. Tikhon. When the Gregorian Liturgy was approved for use in 1961, the Overbeck missal was approved for use, including the epicleses. This epiclesis shares most of its text with that of the Liturgy of St. John, but with certain omissions, streamlining it better into the canon.
Many variances exist in the exact text of the epiclesis, due to translation inconsistency and different schools of thought on how the modified canon should be handled (e.g. should the elevation of the host and chalice remain?)
Still another possible implicit epiclesis of the Roman Liturgy is the Veni, Sanctificator which, however, is one of the 1962 Missal's offertory prayers and is not part of the Roman Canon:
Moreover, this prayer is not included in the 1970 Roman Missal.
The additional Eucharistic Prayers (EP) introduced into the Roman Rite in the 1969 revision have both a pre-consecration and a post-consecration epiclesis.
Lutheran and Anglican divines have argued that in earlier liturgies of theirs in which an Epiclesis and unity with the one sacrifice of Christ may not have seemed explicit (as with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer), it was stated as the point of the consecration in other parts of the rite, notably in required exhortations (the Words of Institution).
In present-day practice, Anglicans in the USA and American Lutheran Eucharistic prayers and newer Old Catholic anaphoras, tend to follow the Eastern practice of treating the Words of Institution as a warrant for the action, with the Epiclesis following the anamnesis/oblation. For example, after the Words of Institution, the epiclesis in Eucharistic Prayer B in the American Book of Common Prayer (which is found in the Canadian Book of Alternative Service and several other Anglican liturgies) reads:
After the Words of Institution in the Lutheran Book of Worship, for example, the epiclesis in Eucharistic Prayer III reads:
The Sunday Service of the Methodists, the first Methodistic liturgical text, saw the "words of institution as the main consecratory act". The Wesleys "introduced the epiclesis in their eucharistic hymns"; as such, early Methodists sung a hymnic epiclesis from Hymns of the Lord's Supper (HLS) after the Words of Institution. According to a 2003 report of the British Methodist Church, His Presence Makes The Feast: Holy Communion in the Methodist Church: "The one Spirit by whom we are all baptised into the one body (1 Corinthians 12:13) is the same Spirit who unites us in and with the body of Christ in Holy Communion. The Holy Spirit at work in the Church of the Acts of the Apostles brings into effect a witnessing and preaching community in which there is apostolic teaching, fellowship, prayer and the breaking of the bread (Acts 2:42)." The epiclesis of the present-day liturgy in many Methodist connexions draws from both the Anglican tradition, such as the 1549 Prayer Book, and the liturgical renewal movement of the 20th century that focused upon liturgies of the ancient church, such as the early rite of Hippolytus. From these traditions, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, inherited the notion that the Holy Spirit was to be invoked to make real and true all that God had promised to bestow on the faithful through Holy Communion. This theology of epiclesis is evidenced in several Methodist hymns written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley.
The epiclesis used in The United Methodist Church is as follows:
The traditional rite of Holy Communion used before the publication of the 1989 hymnal did not include an explicit epiclesis. The traditional text, with slight revisions, is Word and Table IV, and it contains a 16 word, two line epiclesis, as follows:
Another epiclesis used in the Methodist Church in Great Britain is as follows:
A similar invocation of the Holy Spirit by the priest in some other sacraments is also called an epiclesis. The Eastern Orthodox Church holds that such an epiclesis is necessary for the validity of the Holy Mystery (sacrament) of marriage; the Roman Catholic Church holds that it is not, since for them the bride and groom are the ministers of that sacrament.
An epiclesis also appears in the Orthodox rite of Baptism. Baptism in the Roman Rite includes an epiclesis as part of the blessing of the baptismal water:
In the Roman Rite sacrament of Confirmation, the bishop invokes the Holy Spirit upon those being confirmed:
Other epicleses include that in the Eastern Orthodox Great Blessing of Waters on the feast of the Theophany.