by Paul Turner
The memorial acclamation announces the community's belief in the death and resurrection of Christ.
It is sung or recited by the entire assembly during the eucharistic prayer of every Mass, after we hear the words of Jesus at the Last Supper.
This brief statement summarizes the core mystery of the faith we hold.
For hundreds of years prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church used only one eucharistic prayer, the one called the Roman Canon. It had no memorial acclamation for the people to sing. But the priest did say the words "the mystery of faith."
At the council, some wanted to eliminate those words because they were too difficult for people to understand. Instead, the words were expanded so that all might understand and announce together the mystery of our faith.
The text of the acclamation is variable. There are three options in Latin. The first is translated two different ways, bringing the number of memorial acclamations in English to four.
People are most familiar with the first, which begins "Christ has died." The second, beginning with the words "Dying, you destroyed our death," borrows language from the first preface of the Easter season. The third, "When we eat this bread," is a favorite among sung acclamations. The fourth, "Lord, by your cross and resurrection," might be heard more during the seasons of Lent and Easter.
There are no rules governing the sage of the four acclamations. Any of them may be used at any Mass. They are most effective when they are sung. They help the community express its unified confidence in the death, resurrection and return of Jesus Christ.