They were passed down by the apostles and edited by early Saints.
The IV Eucharistic prayer is called Saint Basil’s Eucharistic prayer. It was written by St. Basil the Great, a father of the church who died in 379 A. D. Though St. Basil also wrote a longer form used by other Christians, Eucharistic prayer IV is based in the shorter from. Besides being the Eucharistic Prayer more widely used by the churches, Eucharistic prayer IV shows us the biblical riches of all the Eucharistic prayers.
- First, we need a tour through the ancient region of Cappadocia, in Asia Minor, where the most significant theologians of the church were born. They are:
- St. Gregory of Nyssa (332-395 A. D) Basil’s younger brother, and bishop of Nyssa.
- St. Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 A. D), Patriarch of Constantinople and Basil’s best friend, and
- St. Basil the Great (330-379), bishop of Caesarea, author of the Anaphora IV.
We referred to them as “the Cappadocian fathers” and thanks to them we referred to God as “the Divine Trinity.” They helped the church to find the right language to talk about the Trinity.
- This biblical prayer is a summary of salvation history starting with creation and ending with the final days. It is rich in biblical language. Here is an example: It is truly right to give you thanks, truly just to give you glory, Father most holy (Jn 17:11), for you are the one God living and true (Jer 10:10), existing before all ages and abiding for all eternity, dwelling in unapproachable light (1 Tim 6:16); yet you, who alone are good, the source of life (Ps 36:10), have made all that is, so that you might fill your creatures with blessings (Gen 1:22, 28) and bring joy to many of them by the glory of your light.
- Because of its connection to the Cappadocian fathers, it contains a beautiful Trinitarian clarity. Here is an example: And you so loved the world (Jn 3:16), Father most holy, that in the fullness of time you sent your Only Begotten Son to be our Savior (Gal 4:4). Made incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary (Lk 1:35), he shared our human nature in all things but sin (Heb 4:15).
With this fourth Eucharistic Prayer, we can appreciate the biblical riches of the Mass. The Eucharist is biblical through and through. Every time you hear the fourth Eucharistic prayer just know that there is not a more biblical worship service on Earth than the Eucharist.
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