Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Clericalism of Eucharistic Prayer 2

Something struck me a wee while ago. When comparing the Roman Canon with Eucharistic Prayer 2 it is striking that the People of God ™ don’t get a look in in the post-conciliar prayer. Compare and contrast:

Eucharistic Prayer 2 (ICEL, 1970):
Lord, remember your Church throughout the world; make us grow in love, together with [Benedict] our Pope, {name of local bishop}, our bishop, and all the clergy.

Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer 1; ICEL, 1970)
We offer them for your Holy Catholic Church, watch over it, Lord, and guide it; grant it peace and unity throughout the world. We offer them for {Benedict} our Pope, for {name of Bishop in local diocese} our bishop, and for all who hold and teach the Catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles.

Get that? In the pre-Conciliar prayer, you and me and all good Christian folk, no matter what terrible sinners we are are remembered at the altar and commended to almighty God. In the post-Conciliar prayer, just the clergy get a look in. Now, I know a good priest at the altar will remember us in the memento. Some misguided priests change the text and add in something like: “and all religious and all your people” etc etc. Their intent is good - they want to to be inclusive, but they are changing the words of the text and that way lies danger, as we all know. I see where they are going but the ancient canon contains the wisdom of the ages and gathers all good Christians into the prayer of the church.

Another point about Eucharistic Prayer 2. A criticism leveled at the EF Low Mass is that it was mumbled away at top speed and occasionally finished in under 20 minutes. I have begun to actively dislike Eucharistic Prayer 2 in that it is curt to the point of rudeness and prosaic compared to the beauty of the language of the Roman Canon, even in the ICEL 1970 translation. Even Eucharistic Prayers 3 & 4 have some elegance to them by comparison.

The more I think about Eucharistic Prayer 2 the more it seems like a postcard to God bearing the words “THANKS FOR DINNER. Yrs etc, The Church”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, and its the one Priests use most. 4 is the best of the "new"ones.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Mater mari said...

Hear, hear! But as I understand it, Eucharistic Prayer 2 was never intended for Sunday use, but if that was so, it was an admonition more honoured in the breach than in the observance.

As for EP4, when the Novus Ordo was introduced our then Area Bishop, a Benedictine, claimed it was heretical - I'm not sure how or why. Our parish priest tends to use EP1 on Sundays, with the names of all the saints most weeks!

9:57 AM  
Blogger vetusta ecclesia said...

Sadly in many parishes (such as mine)EP 2 is always used except when there is a festal variant in the Roman Canon.So far from getting variety we get poverty, hearing only the the shortest and most jejune of the 4 possibilities.

7:00 PM  
Blogger vetusta ecclesia said...

Sadly, in many parishes such as my own) EP 2 is always used except when there is a festal variant in the Roman Canon. So far from the new Missal providing variety and richesse we have only the poorest and most jejune.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Martin said...


My own favourite ad hoc adaptation centres on 'so that from east to west, a perfect offering may be made', etc.

I have heard 'from east to west' changed to 'from the rising of the sun until its setting'. This confusion of a unit of distance with a unit of time immediately brought back to my mind Han Solo's claim in 'Star Wars', that the 'Millenium Falcon' could do the Kessel run in three parsecs.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EP 4 and its proper preface is the lovely story of the redemption of mankind, culminating in the redemptive sacrifice of Christ.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Simon Platt said...

Quite so.

"Eucharistic prayer 2" is quite inadequate, and as prosaic as its name suggests. And my understanding is that neither it nor eucharistic prayer 4 are supposed to be offered on Sundays, because the seasonal prefaces are thereby excluded; nonetheless most priests offering the novus ordo seem to use the second prayer to the effective exclusion of the others, Sunday or not.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Patricius said...

Once upon a time there was just one Eucharistic Prayer- the "Roman Canon", No. 1. I do not recall anyone ever explaining the intended benefits to be had from the additional three. That the brevity of no.2 might reasonably commend it in certain serious circumstances- such as a priest being required to keep to a tight schedule in supplying for another parish- seems fair enough, but that is pure speculation on my part and would not explain the other two. Or were they merely the product of compromise among the liturgists who worked on the reformed liturgy?

11:50 PM  
Blogger Martin said...


For the avoidance of doubt, do you know whether the rite of exorcism extends to those who issue spam comments?

11:16 PM  
Blogger Fr Ronan Kilgannon said...

With due respect, what do you think is meant 'the church throughout the world' - if not all the faithful? He the prayer is moving from the General - all the disciples of our Lord in His Church - to the particular - pope, bishops and clergy who are called to minister. Are you owning up to a pre-Vatican Council tendency to us the word 'church' to refer only to its ministers. Shame on you.

2:09 AM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

The prayer mentions the clergy only, Father. The pre-conciliar prayer mentions all the faithful.

Not sure there's any shame on me. If you've missed the point of the blog I am not a Traddie and if I were, would that be a problem? That said, this sort of reaction is turning me very sympathetic to that point of view.

Did I touch a raw nerve, Father?

7:25 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

I think you did, you know.

11:05 PM  

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