‘Dewfall’ and the prayer of consecration

Archbishop Nienstedt

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

Many of you know that my second assignment as a pastor was to the National Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak, Mich. As such, I was the seventh “unworthy” successor of Father Charles Coughlin, the famous radio priest of the 1940s and ’50s.

My successor, Msgr. William Easton, is a good friend and a man with a very solid, pastoral heart. He has a great capacity of listening to the needs of his people.

In a recent bulletin column, he addressed a question of vocabulary in the new Roman Missal. I was so impressed, I wanted to share his insights with you:

“‘Make holy these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.’ — Eucharistic Prayer II

“I have been asked a number of times:

  • What is dewfall?
  • Why do we say dewfall?
  • Why is dewfall used in the prayer of consecration?

“Dewfall is an ancient powerful image of the presence of God. For people in the desert, dew is an important source of water, sometimes the only source. It signifies life. The quiet early hours of the morning are a time when God shows us how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. In those hours, the dew covers the ground and soaks it.

“Water comes to the ground in various ways, such as rainfall and snowfall which are easily seen, and also dewfall, which is when water covers the ground in the form of dew. Dewfall is a quiet process: It forms silently and gradually. There is something mysterious about dew.

“It was with the dewfall that God gave the people of Israel manna in the desert. The dew formed on the ground and as it dried the flakes of manna appeared. This was the bread of the people for the 40 years they wandered in the desert.

“We know the Eucharist completes the meaning of the manna in the desert because Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world’ (John 6:48-51).

“It is through the power of the life-giving Spirit that bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.  In the desert, God sent the dew first, and then the manna. At Mass, God sends the Holy Spirit, and then the bread and wine become Christ’s Body and Blood. A miracle happens, and Jesus is with us, hidden under the form of bread and wine.

“The Holy Spirit comes into our lives as well. Sometimes the Spirit comes as a roaring wind as at Pentecost. More than likely the Spirit comes more often as a quiet mysterious dewfall.”

There is something here to think about! God bless you!

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Category: That They May All Be One

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