Eucharist
Part 3 Structure and Elements

Chapter e34 The Eucharistic Prayer

Leading the Eucharistic Prayer

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

EJWU #6 Eucharistic Prayer

Ten Finger History

Characteristics of the Eucharistic Prayer

Outline of the Eucharistic Prayer

Variations in the Eucharistic Prayer

Structure and Elements

Narrative of the Institution

Institution Narrative or Consecration

Epiclesis to Change the Bread and Wine

Epiclesis to Change the Church

The Epiclesis Joined

Doxology and Lament

Conclusions / Iceberg

Composing an Original Eucharistic Prayer

To Think About

 The Emmaus story (Luke 24:13-35) reveals the meal "shape" of the Eucharist
1.  Gathering -- These notes, Chapter e21
2.  Story Telling -- Chapter e22
3.  Meal Sharing
3a.  Setting the Table -- Chapter e23
3b.  Saying Grace -- Chapter e24 & e25
3c.  Eating and Drinking -- Chapter e26
4.  Commissioning -- Chapter e27

Leading the Eucharistic Prayer

The following essay by Fr. Ed Foley, O.F.M., Capuchin originally appeared in Liturgy 90.  I asked his permission to reprint it here because it provides a window for the priest or seminarian through which he can see the importance of knowing the structure of the Eucharistic Prayer.

[Reprinted with permission from "Leading the Eucharistic Prayer" by Edward Foley O.F.M. Capuchin, in Liturgy 90, July/August 1993, Liturgy Training Publications, Inc. 1993, Archdiocese of Chicago. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Dr. Foley is professor of Liturgy and Music at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.]

It begins simply with "The Lord be with you": certainly an unpretentious prelude to the prayer the church considers to be the "center and high point" of the Eucharist. Challenges abound for those who lead this prayer -- challenges not only to fulfill the vision of official documents, but also to realize the ageless promise of the "great thanksgiving."

The eucharistic prayer is supposed to be the prayer in which "the whole congregation joins Christ in acknowledging the works of God and in offering the sacrifice" (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, #26.) That's the theory, but how do I allow that to happen? So many words to say, rubrics to watch, pages to turn, mysteries to remember. Hold the bread still, get the right note for the acclamations.  I've done it so often - but how often have I prayed it well.

Preparation is critical, especially if I am to avoid the potential monotony of the moment. Actually selecting a prayer in the planning process and meditating on it beforehand helps. It is difficult to pray publicly what has not been prayed in silence. If nothing else, such preparation helps to prevent my Sacramentary from automatically opening at eucharistic prayer II.

Some people are reading along in the missalettes, but I do what I can to make this an auditory event instead of a visual one. The message "slow down" keeps reverberating in my head, as does my seminary prof's admonition, "Do something with the text! This isn't the Chicago telephone directory." So I struggle to interpret as I pray - emphasizing this word, pausing before the phrase, and always trying to remember where I am in the prayer.

I recall my first organ jury as a college freshman, playing for the entire organ faculty. I thought the Bach had gone well. The chairman of the department simply asked, "Have you studied much theory?" "No," I replied. He smiled and suggested, "You'll play better when you do." The cadence, interpretation, embodied meaning - all improved if I understand the structure and stay alert to where I am in the text: now epiclesis praying for the Spirit, next institution narrative, the anamnesis and offering. I consciously navigate through these motifs, coaxing the assembly into praise, offering and intercession.

It is not my voice, however. It is also my body, my eyes, my hands that invite and guide. "From age to age you gather a people to yourself" - I'm attentive to such horizontal echoes in the text that prompt me to abandon the book, gaze into the faces of the assembly. I resist lunging for the Sacramentary after the invitation "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith"; quietly I turn the page after the community has sung the acclamation. At "one body, healed of all division," my extended hands become an embrace, as I gesture to those before me.

The prayer builds to a dynamic conclusion as the elevated gifts are wed to the closing doxology. "Through him, with him, in him" - the chant soars, the gifts held high, my face to the assembly, eager to affirm and join their joyful Amen. So be it!

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Preliminary Questions

Imagine that you are writing a research paper on "Birthday Parties for American Children Who Have Completed Their Ninth Year Of Life" and to gather data for this paper you visited 5,000 birthday parties of American 9 year olds:

1.  What things did you find at all 5,000 parties?  Why are they common to all the parties?

2.  What things did you find at most of the parties?

3.  What things did you find at some parties but not others?


4.  What things were unique, e.g. things you found at only one party?

 


Image that you are writing a research paper on "Common Elements of the Eucharistic Prayer" and to gather data for this paper you visit 5,000 Masses from every century and from all parts of the world.

1.  What things did you find at all 5,000 Masses?  Why are they common to all the Masses?

2.  What things did you find at most of the Masses?

3.  What things did you find at some Masses but not others?

4.  What things were unique, e.g. things you found at only one Eucharist?

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Bibliography

The basic research can be found in:

Anton Hänggi and Irmgard Pahl.  Prex Eucharistica:  Textus e variis liturgiis antiquioribus selecti.  University of Fribourg.  1968.

Key texts are available in English in:

R. C. D. Jasper and G. J. Cuming. Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed. Third Revised Edition 1987. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press (A Pueblo Book), 1987. ISBN 0-916134-85-7. 314 pp. $17.50.

Excellent commentaries can be found in: 

Edward J. Kilmartin, SJ.  The Eucharist in the West:  History and Theology, edited by Robert J. Daly, SJ.  Collegeville MN:  A Pueblo Book.  The Liturgical Press.  1998.

Richard McCarron. The Eucharistic Prayer at Sunday Mass.  Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago IL.  1997.

John K. Leonard and Nathan D. Mitchell.  The Postures of the Assembly During the Eucharistic Prayer.  Chicago:  LTP 1994.  ISBN 0-929650-64-6.  $11.95.

John Barry Ryan. The Eucharistic Prayer: A Study in Contemporary Liturgy.  Paulist Press, New York.  1974

Frank C. Senn.  New Eucharistic Prayers:  An Ecumenical Study on their Development and Structure.  Paulist Press, New Jersey. 1987.

Dennis C. Smolarski.  Eucharistia:  A Study of the Eucharistic Prayer.  Paulist Press.  1982.  $7.95.  ISBN 0-8091-2474-2

Guy Oury.  La Mess de S. Pie V a Paul VI.  Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes.  ISBN 2-85274-013-3.

Excellent discussion of "institution narrative"  "consecration" see: 
Robert F. Taft.  "Mass Without the Consecration?  The Historic Agreement on the Eucharist between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East Promulgated 26 October 2001"  Worship (77:6) November 2003, pp 482-509.

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Our Greatest and Best Prayer

Eucharist Jesus With Us #6, March 2005, Q0305

The following is a draft of a published article ©2005 by St. Anthony Messenger Press, 28 w. Liberty St., Cincinnati, OH 45202.  1-800-488-0488.  The article may not be reproduced or sold without written permission from the publisher.

Our Greatest and Best Prayer
With this article we arrive at the very heart of the Eucharistic celebration:  the Eucharistic Prayer.  And even though we have been hearing the Eucharistic Prayer prayed in our own language for nearly forty years now, there are still many Catholics who are unsure of what to do during this part of the Mass. 
How do you pray the Eucharistic Prayer?  

When I was in grade school at Saint Anthony parish in Wichita, Kansas during the 1940's each school day began with Mass.  We children could not understand what the priest was saying up at the altar but that was not important.  The priest was talking to God (in Latin -- a language which God, if not the priest, understood perfectly well) and was offering Jesus to the Father just as Jesus had offered himself on the cross. 

 As children, we learned to offer ourselves to Jesus. Often we did this by saying the rosary together and thinking about Jesus' suffering and death. But we always stopped what we were doing when the bell rang because this signified the time of Consecration. This was the part of the Eucharistic Prayer when the priest repeated Jesus' words from the Last Supper, "This is my body... This is my blood..." At that moment the bread and wine changed into the body and blood of Christ. 

As children, we learned to offer ourselves to Jesus.  Often we did this by saying the rosary together and thinking about the mysteries of Jesus' suffering and death.  But we always stopped whatever we were doing when the bell rang and we knew it was time for the consecration.  This was the part of the Eucharistic Prayer when the priest said the words of Jesus at the Last Supper "This is my body ... This is my blood..."  At that moment the bread and wine changed into the Body and Blood of Christ.  The consecration was the important moment of the Mass.  One could even describe the Mass simply as "the words of consecration with prayers before and after."  This simple understanding of the Mass sustained my faith through childhood and my days in the seminary in the 1950s and 60s.  But then something very important happened.  

During the years I was in high school and college historians and liturgical scholars such as Anton Hänggi and Irmgard Pahl were studying the history of the Eucharistic prayer and publishing the texts of a great variety of Eucharistic Prayers that were used at various times in diverse parts of the Christian world.  In my peaceful seminary in Dayton Ohio, I was unaware of the revolution that was about to take place.  I had learned in the seminary that the Eucharistic Prayer, The Roman Canon ("canon" meaning "fixed" -- the fixed prayer used in Rome) had come down to us from the Apostles and was unchanging and unchangeable.  It was the priest's prayer.  It was the prayer during which I, as a priest, would change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. 

I was ordained a priest in 1966.  At that same time, on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, the new research into the history and function of the Eucharistic Prayer enabled those who were implementing the directives of the Second Vatican Council to revise the Mass so that it might "become pastorally efficacious to the fullest degree" (Constitution on the Liturgy, 49)

In order to help people understand the role this research played in the understanding and development of the Eucharistic Prayer, I often use the following example:   Imagine that you wanted to write a scientific paper on "Birthday Parties of American Children." You might attend a thousand different birthday parties and from that experience find those elements that are common to them all (for example birthday cake, blowing out candles, singing "Happy Birthday"); those elements which are usually there (games, balloons); and those elements that are often or sometimes present (for example clowns).

Scholars performed a similar exercise with the Eucharistic prayer and found that the following elements are always present in a Eucharistic Prayer.  The Eucharistic Prayer is one, unified prayer.  It is a Trinitarian prayer, always addressed to God, spoken by the Body of Christ (Head and members) in the Holy Spirit.  It is our principle "creed" -- our primary statement of who we are and what we believe.  And the "shape" of the prayer is that of a berakah, or blessing prayer.  [The berakah was a common prayer formula with which Jesus himself would no doubt have been familiar.]  It was this research that enabled those implementing the directives of the Second Vatican Council to compose the new Eucharistic Prayers with which we are now all familiar.  (in 1969 there were four Eucharistic Prayers; in 2005 we have thirteen prayers approved for use in the United States.) 

But perhaps the part of this research that has had the greatest impact on our understanding of the Eucharistic Prayer was the realization that the prayer is not merely the prayer of the priest; it is also our prayer.  It is a "dialogue" between priest and people.  That is why the priest prays the Eucharistic Prayer in the first person plural "we."  "We do well always and everywhere to give you thanks...  we proclaim your glory ... we bring you these gifts ... we ask you to make them holy  ... we offer you in Thanksgiving  ..." It is a prayer said by the priest in our name.  It is truly our prayer.  That is why the priest faces us at the altar and engages us with is voice and gestures to encourage us to make the prayer our own.  But if we are to make the Eucharistic Prayer "our prayer" we must understand something of the structure and function of the prayer.

Epiclesis, Anamnesis, and Berakah

Catholics have always had some "technical words" to describe their belief and worship (tabernacle, monstrance, transubstantiation, etc) and so let's add a few more words which I think contemporary Catholics should know: epiclesis, anamnesis, and berakah.  An understanding of these terms is a great help in appreciating the Eucharistic Prayer. 

The epiclesis is a prayer of petition.  We ask God to do something for us.  Usually we ask God to send the Holy Spirit to perform this action.  " SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy, / so that they may become for us / the body + and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ."  (Eucharistic Prayer II)

The anamnesis is a prayer of remembering, a memorial.  It is, (as we explained earlier,) the kind of remembering that makes us present to the mystery.  As the "good thief" asked Jesus on Calvary:  "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."  [Jesus] replied "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:42-43)  At Mass we remember (anamnesis) and give thanks (in Greek the verb for "giving thanks" gives us the name of the action:  "eucharist") for all that God has done to save us. The Paschal Mystery is central to our anamnesis, our remembering.  For example:  " SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Father, calling to mind (anamnesis) / the death your Son endured for our salvation, his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, ..."  (Eucharistic Prayer III) 

A berakah is not a particular prayer but a prayer formula or prayer "shape."  Again, this is not something terribly esoteric.  It is basically the same "formula" that a teenager might use Saturday evening:  "Dad, you are the best dad a guy could ever have.  You work so hard for us all week to make sure we have all the things we need.  I bet you're tired and want to stay home tonight and watch television.  Can I have the keys to the car?"   The "formula" has three parts:  1) naming -- the boy starts "Dad, you are the best dad..."; 2) grateful remembering -- "you work hard for us all week..." and finally, the petition (the bottom line) -- "Can I have the keys to the car." 

The berakah shape of the Eucharistic Prayer has these same three parts:  1) we call upon God and bless God's holy name; 2) we gratefully remember (anamnesis) and give thanks; and 3) we make our petition (epiclesis).   

Structure and Elements of the Eucharistic Prayer

Dialogue
Preface
Naming
Anamnesis   
Pre-Sanctus
Sanctus
Vere Sanctus
Anamnesis

Epiclesis to change bread and wine
Anamnesis of Last Supper
Acclamation
Anamnesis of Paschal Victory
Offering
Epiclesis to change the Church
Intercessions for the Church, pope, bishop
Intercessions for the dead
Invocation of the saints, and first of all Mary
Intercessions for the living
Doxology
Amen
 

The Eucharistic Prayer starts with a dialogue between priest and people:  "The  SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Lord be with you ...  Lift up your hearts ..." and we begin our berakah.  We name God:  " SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Father, in heaven ..." and then we gratefully remember God's saving works:  "Source of life and goodness, you have created all things, / to fill your creatures with every blessing and lead them to the joyful vision of your light." (Eucharistic Prayer IV)   We call this first part of the prayer "the Preface," because we come into the presence of God, "before God's face," as it were. As the wonders of God are told, we cannot hold back our joy and we sing aloud, "Wow, wow, wow! what a wonderful God we have!"  In the ritual language of the Mass, this acclamation takes the form, "Holy, holy, holy."

We continue to remember.  We recall the Last Supper and we remember how "on the day before he suffered he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, take this, all of you, and eat it:  this is my body which will be given up to you."  We recall Jesus' passion and death on the cross and his glorious resurrection.  As we remember (anamnesis) we become present in a mysterious way to these foundational events of our faith.  And now we make our petition (epiclesis).  We ask God to send the Holy Spirit to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ so that we who eat this Bread and drink this Cup may become one Body, one Spirit, healed of all division.  This is the principal petition at every Eucharist -- parallel to the boy's petition "may I have the keys to the car" in the example I used earlier.  This is the whole point of the prayer:  that we become the Body of Christ! 

In most of the Eucharistic Prayers of the Eastern Rites (e.g. Byzantine, Coptic, Syrian rites) the epiclesis occurs at this point of the prayer, after the anamnesis.  In our Roman prayers, the epiclesis is split.  We pray the first half of the epiclesis prayer (asking the Spirit to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ) before we remember the events of the Last Supper and we pray the second half of the epiclesis (asking for the Spirit to change us into the Body of Christ) at the conclusion of our remembering (anamnesis) as in the Eastern prayers.  But even when the epiclesis is split, as it is in our current Roman prayers, the two halves of the petition go together.  They are the heart of the Eucharistic Prayer. We ask that the bread and wine become Christ's Body and Blood, in order that we who eat and drink may become Christ's Body and Blood. This is what we are praying for at every Mass--our transformation into Christ.  ["In the epiclesis tc "epiclesis " \f D the Church asks the Father to send his Holy Spirit on the bread and wine, so that by his power they may become the body and blood of Jesus Christ and so that those who take part in the Eucharist may be one body and one spirit."  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1353)] 

While we are in the "petitioning" frame of mind, we ask God to bless the pope, our local bishop and the whole Church.  Then we make petition for the dead, those who have died in the peace of Christ and all the dead, even those who faith is known to God alone.  We ask God to "remember" them and to bring them into his presence.  Finally, we pray for ourselves. We pray that we may one day join Mary and all the saints at that heavenly banquet table. And there, we will give glory and praise to God through Jesus Christ.  

We look forward to that glorious day and raise our voices with those of all the saints before us as the priest raises the bread and wine and offers a toast, a doxology, a prayer of glory (doxology) to God in the name of Christ:  "Through him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory (doxa) and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever."  Our "Amen" to this prayer acclaims our assent and participation in the entire Eucharistic Prayer.  

Praying the Prayer

With this history and analysis of the structure and elements of the prayer in mind, we return to the question with which we began this article "What do you do during this prayer?"   I would suggest the following: 

As we hear the priest invite us to remember the wonderful deeds of God, use these memories to spark your own remembering.  How has God been active in your life?  How has God blessed you?   These memories should lead to sentiments of gratitude and thanksgiving.  As we remember the events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, realize that you are present to those events.  Picture yourself with the Apostles reclining at table with Jesus at that Last Supper.  Listen to the conversation.  What would you say to Jesus.  What would you say and feel standing at the foot of the cross?  What would you say encountering the Risen Christ?   And when the priest invites us to " SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1proclaim the mystery of faith" ask the Holy Spirit for that gift received at Confirmation, the gift of "wonder and awe in the presence of God." 

As the prayer turns to petition (epiclesis) we too should ask for the Holy Spirit to come upon each of us to "change us into the Body of Christ."   What stands in the way of this transformation?  What would we have to leave behind to really follow Jesus?   What keeps me from truly loving those around me?  We offer these things to God and thus we enter personally into Christ's sacrifice.  We ask for the grace of Communion, the grace of unity with all of our brothers and sisters, with Christ, and indeed the triune God -- for this is the goal of the Eucharistic sacrifice:  joyful union with God.

Next we turn our attention to the needs of the Body of Christ:  the needs of the pope, the universal church, the bishop and the local church -- peace, generosity, justice and compassion.  Finally we whole heartedly join our voices in the great Amen which concludes the prayer as the priest lifts high the Bread and Cup and "toasts" God:  "All glory and honor is yours!"

I have found that this method of praying the prayer has greatly enriched my understanding of the Eucharist and drawn me more actively into the celebration of the Mass.  I hope that it can do the same for you.  

We have said grace at our Eucharistic Banquet by proclaiming the Eucharistic Prayer and we now share our meal and eat and drink.  This brings us to The Communion Rite, and that is the subject of our next newsletter.

Ten Finger History:
The Eucharistic Prayer

[The explanation of this historical grid memory aid can be found in Chapter d21  Overview of the History of Liturgy.]

1. Apostolic [0-399]  Prayer freely composed by leader of the assembly (overseer / bishop / pastor / priest).
 
2. Patristic [400-799]  Models develop into liturgical families ("Rites") around the major cities. BRK shape is common and the epiclesis [not split] follows the anamnesis.  At Rome, the prayer becomes fixed (Roman Canon [canon=fixed by law]).  Prayer becomes silent and unchangeable. 
3. Early Medieval [800-1199] The Canon is seen as the prayer of the priest.  The choir sings the Sanctus  during it [stopping for the words of consecration]; the people attend to their devotions.
 
4. Medieval [1200-1299] Theology of Eucharist (in the West) based on the Roman Canon (Lex Orandi). As there is no epiclesis to the Spirit, the emphasis is on the words of institution which become words of "consecration." Priest (ontologically changed by Holy Orders) can say this is "my" body.   (The West generally unaware of prayers other than the Roman Canon.)
5. Late Medieval [1300-1499]  Development of "in persona Christi" theology. Theological speculation on the "moment" of "consecration"
 
6. Reformation [1500-1699]  Reformers:  Only the words found in Sacred Scripture (that is, the Narrative of the Institution) constitute the Eucharistic Prayer.  The rest is hocus pocus.
 
7. After Trent [1700-1899]  In the manuals it was taught that the Roman Canon "Inspired" [as Scripture was "Inspired"] and therefore un-changeable and un-reformable.]  In general, we were unaware other prayers existed.
8. Before Vatican II [1900-1959]  Scholars begin to research the history and development of the prayer.  E.g. Anton Hänggi and Irmgard Pahl.  Interest in the prayers of the East.
 
9. Vatican II [1960-1975] Pope John XXIII adds "Joseph, her husband," to the Roman Canon. GIRM:  The prayer is to be said out loud and is no longer a secret, private prayer of the priest.  The prayer is to be said in the vernacular.  ["... those parts which belong to the people..."].  Three new prayers II, III, and IV; Nov 1, 2974 EP for children translated in three ways and two EP for reconciliation.  Paul VI approves a variety of prayers for various countries and occasions (I have a collection from 1973 of 14 approved Eucharistic Prayers.)  1974 Prayer for the Swiss Synod approved.
10. After Vatican II [1975-2050]  General principle: richness of profession of faith. Prayers composed in English (e.g. Prayer "A"); John Paul II reluctant to allow any new prayers to be approved. May 9, 1995 Rome gives USCCB permission to use the text of the Prayer for the Swiss Synod translated into English as the "Eucharistic Prayer for Masses for Various Needs and Occasions." Studies into the structure (form) of the prayer. e.g. Kilmartin. Insight into the dialogical nature of the prayer.

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Characteristics of the Eucharistic Prayer

1.  The Eucharistic Prayer is the High Priestly Prayer of Christ.  It is a prayer of Christ addressed to God. 

2.  The Eucharistic Prayer is a Liturgical Prayer.   It is the prayer of Christ addressed to God.  It is a public prayer.  It is a prayer with different roles (Presider, deacon, cantor, assembly, etc.) as is the case with all liturgical prayers.  It is a prayer led by the presiding minister, not a prayer which the entire assembly proclaims together.  It is a dialogue.

3.  The Eucharistic Prayer is the Principle Statement of the Church's faith.  The prayer is a creed.  The prayer is a statement of the Mystery of Faith, who we are and what we believe.

4.  The Eucharistic Prayer is one, unified prayer.  There is one, great "AMEN" to this one, great prayer.  Acclamations, style of music, etc. are to unify the prayer, not break it up or interrupt it.  The entire prayer is "consecratory."  In the West we no longer focus exclusively on the Institution Narrative as consecratory.  In the East they no longer focus on the Epiclesis for consecration as exclusively consecratory.

5.  The Eucharistic Prayer is a Berakah.  It is a prayer like the kind of prayer Jesus would have said.  We a) invoke the divinity; b) we gratefully remember what God has done; c) we petition. 

A.  We invoke the name of God.  The prayer is addressed to God.  Eucharistic Prayers are not addressed to Christ, to the Holy Spirit, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or to any one else. 

B.  We thankfully recall.  The event recalled is not just the Last Supper but the entire Christ event.  Do THIS in memory of me = live as I have lived.  Zikkaron in Hebrew; anamnesis in Greek.  In the Alexandrian tradition, the recalling begins with creation.  "Consecration" becomes a part of the recalling = "Institution narrative" (Anamnesis).  Note: The "Institution narrative" still carries the ritual trappings of consecration. 

C.  We petition.  The petition (epiclesis) is for Unity, Communion, Cum+union =  Union+with.  The secondary petition is for consecration

6.  Primary and Secondary Elements.  Not all the elements of the Eucharistic Prayer are equally important.

A.  Primary elements always found.

1.  Preface. ("coming before" the face of God, not "preliminary").  Illumination of the T of Te igitur into a cross aided idea of "preliminary" and canon starting after the preface.)
2.  Anamnesis.   We "recall with thanks and praise" = Eucharist).  Note:  In an oral culture, to remember makes present.
3.  Institution Narrative.  Story telling in the light of the liturgy of the word.
4.  Epiclesis. 
5.  Doxology.

B.  Other elements which are almost always found

6.  The opening dialogue (should we go on?)
7.  Acclamations, especially the great Amen

C.  Elements usually found

8.  The pre-Sanctus: mention of the angels
9.  Holy  kadosh (Sanctus Isaiah 6)
10.  The "truly holy" (vere Sanctus) transition — the
post Sanctus
11.  Offering (the modality); gratefully remembering the (verb)

D.  Elements sometimes found

12.  Intercessions for the bishop of Rome (Church Universal) and the bishop of the local Church
13.  Invocation of the saints
14.  Intercessions for the living
15.  Intercessions for the dead

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Outline of the Eucharistic Prayer

With unified epiclesis

Dialogue
Preface
Naming
Anamnesis   

Pre-Sanctus
Sanctus

Vere Sanctus
Anamnesis
Anamnesis of Last Supper
Acclamation
Anamnesis of Paschal Victory
Offering
Epiclesis
To change bread and wine
To change Church
Intercessions for the Church, pope, bishop
Intercessions for the dead
Invocation of the saints, and first of all Mary
Intercessions for the living
Doxology

Amen

With split epiclesis

Dialogue
Preface
Naming
Anamnesis   

Pre-Sanctus
Sanctus

Vere Sanctus
Anamnesis
Epiclesis
To change bread and wine
Anamnesis of Last Supper
Acclamation
Anamnesis of Paschal Victory
Offering
Epiclesis To change Church
Intercessions for the Church, pope, bishop
Intercessions for the dead
Invocation of the saints, and first of all Mary
Intercessions for the living
Doxology

Amen

Note that the Epiclesis to change bread and wine and the Epiclesis to change Church go together.  To identify Eucharist only with the change in the bread without the consequent change in those who eat and drink has aptly been identified by Rev. Jerry Austin, O.P., his presidential Address to the North American Academy of Liturgy some years ago as the problem of "Stopping Short at the First Epiclesis."

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Variations in the Eucharistic Prayer

One pastoral issue today is "How can we keep the congregation focused on the words and intent of the prayer during its weekly / daily proclamation?"    First of all, care must be give to the way in which the prayer is proclaimed.  (Read again the essay by Fr. Ed Foley at the beginning of this chapter, Leading the Eucharistic Prayer.  Another way to keep the congregation's interest is to vary the wording of the prayer.

At the present time, changing the words of the Eucharistic Prayer on one's own authority is not permitted by the rubrics.  The majority of priests ordained today did not study the structure and elements of the prayer, or its history, during  their seminary days and would be ill prepared to change the prayer without understanding its structure.  

Poetic and orthodox creativity is never easy -- as we can see from those places in the liturgy where it is permitted, namely the homily, and the general intercessions with their invitation and concluding presidential prayer.   When we examine the variations that are permitted in the Eucharistic Prayer we take our cue from the homily and general intercessions:  we look 1) to the readings, 2) the liturgical year, and 3) the situation of the here and now congregation. 

As examples of these three sources, look to 1) the prefaces for Lent, cycle A; 2) the variations for certain liturgical days in the Roman Canon; and 3) the variations in the prayer on the occasions of funerals and weddings.

1) The prefaces for Lent Cycle A   The general principle involved here is:  An artist always uses a limited palette.  One eucharistic prayer cannot embrace all the themes of the Gospel.  And the very limitations of printing a liturgical book make it impossible to include variations for liturgical day and pastoral circumstance.   One way in which the current Roman Missal deals with these difficulties can be found in the prefaces for Lent, Cycle A.

The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent speaks of the temptation of Christ in the desert.  The preface picks up this theme:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
His fast of forty days
makes this a holy season of self-denial.
By rejecting the devil's temptations
he has taught us
to rid ourselves of the hidden corruption of evil,
and so to share his paschal meal in purity of heart,
until we come to its fulfillment
in the promised land of heaven.
Now we join the angels and the saints
as they sing their unending hymn of praise:

The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent speaks of the transfiguration of Christ.  The preface picks up this theme:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
On your holy mountain he revealed himself in glory
in the presence of his disciples.
He had already prepared them for his approaching death.
He wanted to teach them through the Law and the Prophets
that the promised Christ had first to suffer
and so come to the glory of his resurrections.
In our unending joy we echo on earth
the song of the angels in heaven
as they praise your glory for ever:
 

The Gospel for the Third Sunday of Lent speaks of the woman of Samaria at the well.  The preface picks up this theme: 

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
When he asked the woman of Samaria for water to drink,
Christ had already prepared for her the gift of faith.
In his thirst to receive her faith
he awakened in her heart the fire of your love.
With thankful praise,
in company with the angels,
we glorify the wonders of your power:
 

The Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent speaks of the man born blind who was "illumined"  by Christ. (Note the Baptismal reference:  illumination is an ancient name for Baptism.)  The preface picks up this theme. 

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
He came among us as a man,
to lead us from darkness
into the light of faith.
Through Adam's fall we were born as slaves of sin,
but now through baptism in Christ
we are reborn as your adopted children.
Earth unites with heaven
to sing the new song of creation,
as we adore and praise you for ever:
 

The Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent speaks of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. The preface picks up this theme. 

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As a man like us, Jesus wept for Lazarus his friend.
As the eternal God, he raised Lazarus from the dead.
In his love for us all,
Christ gives us the sacraments
to lift us up to everlasting life.
Through him the angels of heaven offer their prayer of adoration
as they rejoice in your presence for ever.
May our voices be one with theirs
in their triumphant hymn of praise:
 

2) Variations for certain liturgical days in the Roman Canon   The Roman Canon has from ancient times contained variations for certain liturgical days.  E.g.  The "In union with..." prayer which normally reads:  "In union with the whole Church we honor Mary, ... " on Christmas and during the Octave the prayer has the following variation:  

"In union with the whole Church
we celebrate that day (night)
when Mary without loss of her virginity
gave the world its savior.
We honor Mary, ..."

3) Variations in the Eucharistic Prayer on the occasion of funerals and weddings   It is, of course, impossible for the universal liturgical book to consider every occasion or circumstance that might be experienced by a given community.  However, the following variations are given on the occasion of funerals and weddings ...

When Eucharistic Prayer III is used in Masses for the dead, the following may be said:

Remember N.
In baptism he (she) died with Christ:
may he (she) also share in his resurrection,
when Christ will raise our mortal bodies
and make them like his own in glory.
Welcome into your kingdom... "

When Eucharistic Prayer III is used in Masses for the dead, the following may be said:
The words in parentheses may be omitted

Father Accept this offering
from your whole family
and from N. and N. for whom we now pray.
You have brought them to their wedding day:
grant them (the gift and joy of children and)
a long and happy life together.
(Through Christ our Lord.  Amen)
 

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Structure and Elements

For a general explanation of the terms "structure and elements" see Chapter d43 The Structure and Elements of a Liturgical Rite.

Dialogue

Preface  Naming, Remembering

Pre-Sanctus  Mention of Angels

Sanctus / Holy Holy Holy Acclamation

Vere-Sanctus You are holy indeed...  transitional element

Anamnesis

Epiclesis over the Food and Drink

Narrative of the Institution   For the implications of speaking of "institution narrative" and/or "consecration see below.

a.  Elevation of the Bred and Wine -- Some priests do not touch the food and drink during the meal prayer except at the end of the prayer during the great toast:  Through him...

b.  At what moment does the change take place?  The east said "at the epiclesis"  The west said "consecration"  Today both consider the entire prayer "consecratory"

c.  Is it still "bread" after consecration:  St. Thomas Aquinas treats this question in the Summa Theologiae III a, Question 77, "The Accidents which Remain in this Sacrament,"  Article 6, ad primum.   After the consecration there are two ways in which we can speak of "bread" in this sacrament. First, the species hold on to the name of the original substance, as Gregory explains in an Easter sermon. (see Lanfranc, De Corpore et Sanguine Domini 20. PL 150, 436.) Second, the body of Christ itself can be called bread; it is the mystical bread that comes down from heaven. Therefore, when Ambrose says that this bread does not become part of our body, he is taking "bread" in the second sense and his meaning is that the body of Christ is not changed into our body but that it refreshes our soul. He is not talking about bread in the first sense.

d.  Do this in memory of me  Taft questions whether Jesus would have said these words in the light of the original expectation of an imminent parousia.  Jeremiah says that this in do this is not merely a command to repeat the Eucharist, but the challenge to live as Christ lived.  The antecedent of this is the entire life, passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord.  When Jesus said, "Do this"  he said "Live as I have lived."

 e.  Note pronouns: "Thanked you; gave it to them." 

f.  (Tad Guzie).  When Jesus said "this is my Body" he was not speaking to or about the bread. He was speaking of the breaking of the bread  The principle Eucharistic symbols are not bread and wine but the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup by the assembly.

Memorial Acclamation

a.  "Mysterium Fidei" --  Are these words, which were once part of the "consecration formula" in the Roman Canon, now part of the Eucharistic Prayer and thus belong to the priest presiding?  or are they an "invitation" and thus belong to the deacon?

b.  Who says (sings) "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith", the priest or the deacon or the cantor?

One said: I know that the priest is the one who invites the assembly to proclaim the memorial acclamation because it is part of the eucharistic prayer. I also know that in some dioceses the deacons still do this based on an old rubric. A clarification can be found in the 16 March 2002 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. That letter highlighted some of the congregation's difficulties with the Roman Missal, as submitted in 1998 for recognitio of the Holy See.

The German edition of the Missale Romanum ("Die Feier der Heiligen Messe - Messbuch für die Bistümer des deutschen Sprachgebietes. Authentische Ausgabe für den liturgischen Gebrauch. Kleinausgabe: Das Meßbuch deutsch für alle Tage des Jahres. Einsiedeln und Köln - Freiburg und Basel - Regensburg - Wien ²1988), confirmed July 13, 1987 (prot. CD 924/87), reads within all Eucharistic prayers: "Dann spricht oder singt er [sc. der Priester] (oder der Diakon): Geheimnis des Glaubens. - Then he [sc. the priest] (or the deacon) says or sings: [This is a] mystery of faith." The same rubrics can be found within the fascicle containing the "Eucharistic prayers for specials needs" (confirmed July 1, 1993 - prot. CD 1100-1106/93/L).

The former director of the BCL (Ron Krisman) wrote: It was owing to the fact that the Apostolic See confirmed the variation in the German Messbuch (not just in the 1987 edition, but also in the prior one) that the booklet on the deacon in the Study Text series of the US Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy recommended the same practice back in the early 1980's. The committee and its Secretariat were subsequently called to task by the Congregation for Divine Worship and in a closed executive session of the NCCB in the mid-1980's the American bishops were informed that deacons trained to introduce the memorial acclamation could continue to do so (this was to placate the Bishops' Committee on the Permanent Diaconate, which was quite incensed that the deacon's role was being diminished), but no new deacons were to be trained in the practice until the new Missale Romanum was issued "in the new future" and the matter taken care of authoritatively. Of course, no one knew that the wait would be 17 years!

Other things which, according to various Congregation officials over the years that I was in Washington, were supposed to be taken care of in the "new Missal" -- among others -- were the change of the "viri selecti" in the Holy Thursday foot washing rite, and the showing of both elements (the consecrated Bread and Wine) by the priest in the invitation to holy communion. I have yet to see the new Latin Missal. I have seen a photocopy of the Rite of Communion, and that one promised variation is not included. I doubt that other promised changes are there either.

c.  The second (1994) ICEL edition of the Sacramentary (the one we will never see) gives specific cues for each response.

d.  The nature of an acclamation is not well understood.

Anamnesis

Offertory  The verb of action is remember. offering is the modality of remembering (and not vice versa)

Epiclesis to change the Church

Intersession for the living

Naming the Bishop  The Congregation for Divine Worship, in its Decree Cum de nomine (October 9, 1972 [DOL no. 247]),  has decreed that only those who have received the episcopal character may be included in the eucharistic prayer.  The mention of the bishop in the eucharistic prayer is not simply or mainly a matter of honor but of communion and charity: to point to him as the steward of the grace of the supreme priesthood. 

Naming the Bishop when the bishop dies or is transferred:  If an auxiliary bishop is elected diocesan administrator, he is prayed for in the eucharistic prayer.  If a presbyter is elected diocesan administrator, he is not mentioned.  The Ceremonial of Bishops notes that the name of a new bishop is mentioned in the eucharistic prayer only from the day the bishop is officially installed in the diocese (no. 1147).

The territorial bishop is not mentioned at Mass at the Nunciature [embassy of the Holy Sea], because the Nunciature, being a papal sea, is wholly exempt from the jurisdiction of the territorial bishop and subject to the Supreme Pontiff alone.  The same holds true for such papal shrines at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, and certain other exclusively Pontifical sites [David-Maria A. Jaeger, OFM, JCD].

Intersession for the Dead

Invocation of the Saints

Doxology

Great Amen

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

The Narrative of the Institution
in the Eucharistic Prayer

Current Roman Eucharistic Prayer III

On the night he was betrayed,
he took bread and gave you thanks and praise.
He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:
Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.
When supper was ended, he took the cup.
Again he gave you thanks and praise,
gave the cup to his disciples, and said:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me

TRR Comment 1:  Note the pronouns.  The priest is addressing (praying to) God the Father.

TRR Comment 2:  The coetus was instructed to keep the same words for the institution narrative in each of the Eucharistic Prayers "to facilitate concelebration." 

Current Roman Eucharistic Prayer II

Before he was given up to death,
a death he freely accepted,
he took bread and gave you thanks.
He broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples, and said:
Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.
When supper was ended, he took the cup.
Again he gave you thanks and praise,
gave the cup to his disciples, and said:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.

TRR Comment:  Compare this prayer with that of Hippolytus (its source).  What has been added? What has been omitted?  Why?

Prayer of Hippolytus

And so he took bread and gave you thanks, saying:
Take, and eat:
this is my body which will be broken for you.
In the same way he took the cup, saying:
This is by blood which will be shed for you.
When you do this, you do it in memory of me.

TRR Comment:  Note the directness and simplicity which is characteristic of the Roman style.

Eucharistic Prayer of Saint Basil

Christ has left us this great mystery of our faith.
When he was about to give himself up to death,
a death for the life of the world,
All: We believe.
He took bread into his holy, blameless, and life-giving hands,
All: We believe. Amen
raised his eyes to heaven
to you, his Father,
God and Lord of the universe,
and gave thanks and praise.
All: Amen
He blessed the bread,
All: Amen
sanctified it,
All: Amen. We believe.
Broke it,
and gave it to his holy disciples and apostles, saying:
Take and eat, all of you:
this is my body
broken for you and for all,
and delivered up for the forgiveness of your sins.
Do this in memory of me.
All: Amen. We believe.
In the same way, after they had eaten,
he took the cup of wine mixed with water
and gave you thanks and praise.
All: Amen.
He blessed it,
All: Amen.
sanctified it,
All: Amen. We believe.
Tasted it, and once again gave it to his holy disciples and apostles, saying:
Take and drink, all of you:
this is my blood of the new covenant,
shed for you and for all,
and delivered up for the forgiveness of your sins.
Do this in memory of me.
All: Amen. We believe.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup,
you proclaim my death
and confess my resurrection
and remember me until I come.
All: Amen. Amen. Amen. We proclaim your death, Lord,
and confess your holy resurrection and ascension.

TRR Comment:  Note the dialogical nature of this prayer.  Note the way in which the text is embellished by synonyms and parallel phrases, characteristics of Oriental Poetry. 

Current Roman Eucharistic Prayer IV

While they were at supper,
he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread,
and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.
In the same way, he took the cup, filled with wine.
He gave you thanks, and giving the cup to his disciples, said:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.

TRR Comment:  Compare Prayer IV with Basil (its source).  What has been changed?  Why?

Roman Canon (1965)

The day before he suffered he took bread
he raises his eyes,
and looking up to heaven,
to you, his almighty Father,
he bows his head,
he gave you thanks and praise.
He broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples and said:
Take this and eat it, all of you:
Holding the host between the thumbs and forefingers of both hands, he says the words of conscecration distinctly and attentively over the host or hosts that are to be consecrated.
this is my body.
After saying these words, the celebrant immediately shows the consecrated host to the people for their adoration, places it on the paten, and genuflects.  After the consecration, the celebrant need not keep his thumbs and forefingers together.  If there is any fragment of the host on his fingers, he purifies them over the paten.  He then uncovers the chalice and says:
When supper was ended,
he takes the chalice in both hands,
he took the cup.
he bows his head.
Again he gave you thanks and praise,
gave the cup to his disciples and said:
Take this and drink from it, all of you:
Attentively and without pausing, he speaks the words of consecrationover the chalice, while holding it slightly raised.
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant--
the mystery of faith.
This blood is to be shed for you and for all men
so that sins may be forgiven.
He immediately adds:
Whenever you do this,
you will do it in memory of me.
Then he shows the chalice to the people, places it on the corporal, covers it, and genuflects.

TRR Comment:  This is the first ICEL translation which was adopted for use in the USA.  This was the official text at the time of my ordination in 1966.  It is a translation of the (un-revised) Latin text used from Trent to Vatican II.   This text (1965) will be revised by the Consilium which composed prayers II, III, and IV, and revised the Roman Canon to the following text (1969). 

TRR Comment:  Note that the entire text of the prayer, including the institution narrative, is in the same type font (that is, the Institution Narrative is not printed in larger type).

TRR Comment:  The rubrics can best be understood in reference to the rubrics in the previous missal. They indicate to the priest the things that are new.

TRR Comment:  Note the words "the mystery of faith".

TRR Comment:  Compare the 1965 prayer with the 1969 revision.

Eucharistic Prayer I (Roman Canon) [1969-2004]

The day before he suffered
he took bread in his sacred hands
and looking up to heaven,
to you, his almighty Father,
he gave you thanks and praise.
He broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples, and said:
take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.
When supper was ended,
he took the cup.
Again he gave you thanks and praise,
gave the cup to his disciples, and said:
take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.

TRR Comment:  This is the text as it appears in the current (2004) Roman Sacramentary.  Compare the text carefully with the four Biblical accounts of the Lord's Supper.   Note carefully the origins of each word of this prayer.  Make a list of which words are from which scriptural account and which words are non-biblical. 

TRR Comment:  Compare the 1969 ICEL trans5 prayer with the 1969 revision.

Eucharistic Prayer I or The Roman Canon (ICEL 2004)

89. In the formulas that follow, the words of the Lord should be pronounced clearly and distinctly, as the nature of these words requires.
Who on the day before he was to suffer
He takes the bread and, holding it slightly raised above the altar, continues:
took bread into his holy and venerable hands,
He raises his eyes.
and with eyes raised to heaven
to you, God, his almighty Father,
giving you thanks,
he blessed, broke, and gave it to his disciples, saying:
He bows slightly.
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT,
FOR THIS IS MY
BODY,
WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.

He shows the consecrated host to the people, places it back on the paten, and genuflects in adoration.
90. After this, he continues:

In the same way, when supper was ended,
He takes the chalice and, holding it slightly raised above the altar, continues:
taking also this noble cup
into his holy and venerable hands,
once more giving you thanks,
he blessed and gave it to his disciples, saying:
He bows slightly.
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT,
FOR THIS IS THE CUP OF MY
BLOOD
OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT;
IT WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR ALL
FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.
DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.

He shows the chalice to the people, places it on the corporal, and genuflects in adoration.

TRR Comment:  This text is taken from the draft English translation of the Order of Mass © 2003 and 2004, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.  As of this date (September 20, 2004) the text is before the USCCB and ICEL will receive comments from the Bishops of the USA and the other Conferences of Bishops for which English is an approved liturgical language.

TRR Comment:  Compare this text which you may be using for most of your priestly life with the current text which you will use for your Mass of Thanksgiving.  What is different?  Why? 

The Liturgy of Saints Addai and Mari (Syria 431 C.E.)

Holy, Holy, Holy, ... (Priest says privately) And with these heavenly armies we, also even we, your lowly, weak, and miserable servants, Lord, give you thanks because you have brought about us a great grace which cannot be repaid. For you put on our human nature to give us life through your divine nature; you raised us from our lowly state; you restored our Fall... May your Holy Spirit, Lord, come and rest on this offering of your servants, and bless and sanctify it, that it may be to us, Lord, for remission of debts, forgiveness of sins, and the great hope of resurrection from the dead, and new life in the kingdom of heaven, with all who have been pleasing in your sight. (Jasper 41-42)

TRR Comment: "Conspicuous by its absence from all manuscripts of Addai and Mari is the Institution Narrative." (Jasper p 40)

TRR Comment:  Pope John Paul II declared this to be a valid prayer.  See Robert F. Taft.  "Mass Without the Consecration?  The Historic Agreement on the Eucharist between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East Promulgated 26 October 2001"  Worship (77:6) November 2003, pp 482-509.  What does this imply for the "moment of consecration" theology?

The Third Anaphora of St. Peter (Sharar)

(The priest says aloud):  We make the memorial of your Passion, Lord, as you taught us. In the night in which you were betrayed to the Jews, Lord, you took bread in your pure and holy hands, and lifted your eyes to heaven to your glorious Father; you blessed, sealed, sanctified, Lord, broke, and gave it to your disciples the blessed Apostles, and said to them, "This bread is my body, which is broken and given for the life of the world, and will be to those who take it for forgiveness of debts and pardon of sins; take and eat from it, and it will be to you for eternal life. Likewise over the cup, Lord, you praised, glorified, and said, "This cup is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for forgiveness of sins; take and drink from it, all of you, and it will be to you for pardon of debts and forgiveness of sins, and for eternal life." Amen (Jasper p 48)

TRR Comment:  The Maronite Rite preserves this ancient prayer.

TRR Comment:  Note the Oriental poetic style.

The Liturgy of St. Mark

[The Bishop prays privately:]  O God fill this sacrifice with blessing from you through the descent of your all Holy Spirit. For our Lord and God and King of all, Jesus the Christ in the night when he handed himself over for our sins, and underwent death in the flesh for all men, sat down with his holy disciples and apostles, he took bread in his holy, undefiled, and blameless hands, looked up to heaven to you, his own Father, the God of us and of all, gave thanks blessed, sanctified, broke and gave it to his holy and blessed disciples and apostles saying: (aloud) "Take, eat," [Deacon: Stretch forth, presbyters.] "this is my body, which is broken for you and given for forgiveness of sins." [People: Amen.] (Jasper 64-65)

TRR Comment:  The Liturgy of the Patriarchate of Alexandria preserves this prayer.  (The cathedral contains the body of Saint Mark.)

John Calvin "The Manner of celebrating the Supper"

[After the Prayers and the Confession of Faith ... the minister says aloud] Let us listen to the institution of the Holy Supper by Jesus Christ, as narrated by St. Paul in the eleventh chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians: For I have received, he says, from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying...  (Jasper 215-216)

TRR Comment:  Note that the narrative is no longer addressed to God and has ceased to be a prayer and is now addressed to the people and has become a sermon.

Book of Common Prayer 1552

The Priest, standing up says: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, which of thy tender mercy didst given thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who made there by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death until his coming again; Hear us, O merciful Father, we beseech thee; and grant that we receiving these thy creatures of bread and wine, according to thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed body and blood; who, in the same night that he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. Likewise after supper he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them saying, Drink you all of this; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many for remission of sins: do this, as oft as ye shall drink it in remembrance of me. [Then shall the Minister first receive the communion in both kinds himself .. And after to the people in their hands kneeling. When he delivereth the bread he shall say,] Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving. (Jasper 248)

TRR Comment 1:  Note the language of real presence without the language of transubstantiation.

Directory for the Public Worship of God Throughout the Three Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland 1645.

The minister says: According to the holy institution, command, and example of our blessed Savior Jesus Christ, I take this bread, and having given thanks, I break it, and give it unto you. Take ye, eat ye; this is the body of Christ, which is broken for you: do this in remembrance of him. (Jasper p 269)

TRR Comment:  Note that the narrative is no longer addressed to God and has ceased to be a prayer and is now addressed to the people and has become a sermon.

TRR Comment:  I hope that these few examples encourage and motivate you to study and analyze all 43 prayers given in R. C. D. Jasper and G. J. Cuming. Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed. Third Revised Edition 1987. New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1987.

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Institution Narrative or Consecration

What difference does it make if we speak of the part of the Eucharistic Prayer that includes the words "This is my body..." as the "Narrative of the Institution" or call it "the consecration"?  A few reflections:

"The thirteenth-century development of the sharp distinction between the two representative roles of the priest occasioned the promotion of the words of institution of the Eucharist to the form of the sacrament. The fixing of the moment of consecration at the recitation of the words of Christ had the effect of introducing a conceptual separation of the sacrament from the aspect of sacrifice, which fostered a theology of eucharistic sacrifice that dominated the scene up to the Council of Trent. This fixing of the moment of consecration (often resulting in the fixation on this moment) has continued to this day to constitute a serious obstacle to the task of structuring a coherent synthesis of this theme."  (Kilmartin, 143)

Summary:   "Consecration" [for most theologians of the post Trent time] names the change of the bread into the Body of Christ and wine into the Blood of Christ.  The "Narrative of the Institution"  names one element of the anamnesis (remembering) during the Eucharistic Prayer, all of which is consecratory.  To treat the institution narrative as "consecration" can devalue the other elements of the prayer, in particular, the epiclesis.

Period One:  Origins and Early Church

1.  see Robert F. Taft.  "Mass Without the Consecration?  The Historic Agreement on the Eucharist between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East Promulgated 26 October 2001"  Worship (77:6) November 2003, pp 482-509.

2.  For the apostolic and sub-apostolic and patristic writers the whole prayer, indeed the whole celebration,  is seen as "consecratory."  "... right through to the end of the patristic period the view was current in Latin theology 1) that the eucharistic consecration was the work of the Holy Spirit, and 2) that the prayer which effected it was the canon or anaphora without further specifying one of its component parts as the form of the sacrament or the moment of consecration." (Taft, p 496)

3.  Eucharist without Communion was unthinkable as Eucharist was the "Do this..." of the Last Supper Meal:  "Take this all of you and eat it..."

4.  The change in the food and drink was seen in relation to the change of the Church -- Flesh of Christ, Flesh of the Church.  That is, the epiclesis was seen as one prayer, one idea, one theological concept.  The "change in the Church" was the focus of homilies, mystagogia, and catechetics.  "Be what you see...  Receive what you are..."  (Saint Augustine)

5.  "Furthermore, although theories on the origins and evolution of the pristine anaphora [of Addai and Mari] remain in flue, one point of growing agreement among representative scholars, Catholic and non, is that the Institution Narrative is a later embolism -- i.e. interpolation -- into the earliest eucharistic prayers. ...   Not only Addai and Mari but several other early eucharistic prayers, do, in fact, lack these words."  (Taft,  p 490)

Period Two:  The Scholastic Period up to the Second Vatican Council

1.  The discussion shifts from what change takes place to how does the change take place.

2.  Adapting the theory of hylomorphism of the recently rediscovered Greek philosophers (Aristotle, etc) the "how" of the change is explained in terms of "substance" and "accidents."

3.  The focus shifts to the elements (bread and wine) and away from the Church (people).

4  The scholastic theologians using the principle Lex Orandi, had a very limited Lex Orandi.  They did not have at their disposal the research into the history of the Eucharistic Prayer (see, for example, Anton Hänggi and Irmgard Pahl.  Prex Eucharistica:  Textus e variis liturgiis antiquioribus selecti.  University of Fribourg.  1968). 

5.  The Eucharistic Prayer is the prayer of the priest.  It is said sub secreto (silently).  Ordinarily there are no people present, and if they are present they are not the concern of the priest.

6.  As they do not have an epiclesis, and as the prayer is the prayer of the priest, the focus shifts to the "words of Jesus" as said by the priest.

7.  This experience is the elaboration of a theology of "consecration" and "priesthood".

8.  No one but the priest receives communion, and so naturally the "meal" and "Last Supper" dimensions of the Eucharist recede into the background and the emphasis shifts to "sacrifice" and "Good Friday".  "The Mass is the sacrifice of the New Law in which Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine."  (Baltimore Catechism, 357.)  

9.  The Eucharist / The Mass is identified with the Consecration.  E.g. a text book from circa 1900:  "The Mass is the words of Consecration with prayers before and after." 

10.  The elevation is added to the Mass, first of the host and then of the cup.  To "attend Mass" is to "see the consecration" (or fencing the consecration, we have Offertory / Consecration / (priest's) Communion.  Period of "ocular communion"  (Medieval accounts of people shouting:  "Hold it higher, Father John!")

11. Elevation:  Ritual becomes more elaborate; bells alert the congregation; tower bell calls people back into the church building.  (People would come in from the bar across the street!)  Servers, move, incense; (OFM Flash Bulbs) etc.

12.  The words "Hoc est enim corpus meum"  printed in extra large type, and said in special voice by the priest, bent low over the elements.

13.  Choir also stopped singing the Sanctus at this moment and then resumed singing the remainder of the Sanctus.

13.  Catechesis:  The people were taught that at this moment they were to interrupt their devotions and prayers (rosary, prayer book, etc) and to look at the host and say "My Lord and My God." 

Period Three:  The Second Vatican Council Period   (c. 1960 - 1990)

1.  Intense historical research in connection with the Liturgical Movement.  (e.g.  Anton Hänggi and Irmgard Pahl.  Prex Eucharistica:  Textus e variis liturgiis antiquioribus selecti.  University of Fribourg.  1968.)

2.  The Eucharistic Prayer is seen to be one unified prayer, not twelve individual elements.  "...with the eucharistic prayer, the prayer, namely of thanksgiving and consecration, we come to the heart and culmination of the celebration."  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1352.)

3.  Balance of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday.  Restoration of frequent Communion for the laity.   Restoration of the cup to the laity.  Eucharist is not just "looking" but "eating and drinking".  Meal is the sign of the sacrifice.  Meal is to Sacrifice as Sacramental Sign is to Reality Signified.

4.  Restoration of the Epiclesis in the Eucharistic Prayers.  Restoration of the theology of the Holy Spirit's role at Eucharist. 

5.  Enlarging the notion of "consecration" and "Real Presence"  1)  the Whole Eucharistic Prayer is "consecratory"  2)  SC 7 -- Christ is present in the Assembly, the Scripture Readings, the Bread and Wine...  (CCC while the eucharist is substantially real, the other presences are real also.)

6.  The words of institution are spoken to God in the name of the congregation as is the rest of the prayer and not spoken to the elements themselves as in the Missal of Trent.

7.  "Moment of consecration" is expanded from "This is my body..." to the whole of the Eucharistic Prayer.  Less emphasis on the manual gestures during the Eucharistic Prayer in favor of the "great toast" during the Doxology.  These words are to be printed in the Sacramentary in the same type font as the rest of the prayer.  The whole prayer is to be in the same font and type face to show that it is one unified prayer.

8.  "The Eucharistic Prayer, the center and summit of the entire celebration, summarizes what it means for the Church to celebrate the Eucharist.  It is a memorial proclamation of praise and thanksgiving for God's work of creation and salvation, a proclamation in which the Body and Blood  of Christ are made present by the power of the Holy Spirit and in which the people are joined to Christ in offering his sacrifice to the Father.  The Eucharistic Prayer is addressed to the Father through Jesus Christ, by the priest celebrant in the name of all who are present.  The faithful profess their faith and give their assent through dialogue, acclamations, and the Amen.  Since the Eucharistic Prayer is the summit of the Mass, its solemn nature and importance are enhanced when it is sung."   (Pastoral Introduction to the Order of the Mass, 111)

9.  When  Trent that the bread truly becomes the body of Christ at the moment of consecration, Trent was defining that the change takes place.  They were not defining when the change takes place.

Period Four:  Today (c. 1990 - 2010)

1.  Return to "consecration" language in GIRM 2001. 

2.  This will help increase the "transcendent" nature of God and the "mysterious" elements of the Eucharist.

3.  It will give priests a renewed sense of priestly identity.   It will emphasize the power of the priest received at Ordination and will foster (much needed) vocations to the priesthood.  GIRM 2001, 93:  "A priest also, who possesses within the Church the power of Holy Orders to offer sacrifice in the person of Christ .....  When he celebrates the Eucharist, ... by his bearing and by the way he says the divine words he must convey to the faithful the living presence of Christ."  "This is my body..."

4. Return to emphasis on the consecration moment, e.g. the comportment of the priest, bells, etc. 

GIRM 2001 #43,  states that if the people are not kneeling, they should "make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration."

#150  "A little before the consecration, when appropriate, a server rings a bell as a signal to the faithful.  According to local custom, the server also rings the bell as the priest shows the host and then the chalice. ... If incense is used, a server incenses the host and the chalice when each is shown to the people after the consecration."

#151.  "After the consecration when the priest has said, Mysterium fidei (Let us proclaim the mystery of faith), the people sing or say an acclamation using one of the prescribed formulas."

In the glossary section of the Catechism consecration is defined as:  "that part of the Eucharistic Prayer during which the Lord's words of institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper are recited by the priestly minister, making Christ's Body and Blood . . . sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine" (872).

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Epiclesis to Change the Bread and Wine

Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon) "Let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord." [ Note: There is no mention of the Holy Spirit.]

Eucharistic Prayer II "Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy, so that they become for us the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ."

Eucharistic Prayer III "We ask you to make them holy by the power of your Spirit, that they may become the body and blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at whose command we celebrate this eucharist."

Eucharistic Prayer IV "Father, may this Holy Spirit sanctify these offerings. Let them become the body and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord as we celebrate the great mystery which he left us as an everlasting covenant."

Eucharistic Prayer for Children I "We bring you bread and wine and ask you to send your Holy Spirit to make these gifts the body and blood of Jesus your Son."

Eucharistic Prayer for Children II "God our Father, we now ask you to send your Holy Spirit to change these gifts of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord."

Eucharistic Prayer for Children III "Father, we ask you to bless these gifts of bread and wine and make them holy. Change them for us into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your Son." [Note: There is no mention of the Holy Spirit.]

Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I "...send forth the power of your Spirit so that these gifts may become for us the body and blood of your beloved Son, Jesus the Christ, in whom we have become your sons and daughters."

Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation II "We ask you to sanctify these gifts by the power of your Spirit, as we now fulfill your Son's command."

Eucharistic Prayer "A" "Father, let your Holy Spirit move in power over us and over our earthly gifts of bread and wine, that they may become the body and blood of Christ."

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Epiclesis to Change the Church

Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon) "Almighty God... Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing." [ Note: There is no mention of the Holy Spirit.]

Eucharistic Prayer II "May all of us who share in the body and blood of Christ be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit."

Eucharistic Prayer III "Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ."

Eucharistic Prayer IV "Lord, look upon this sacrifice which you have given your church; and by your Holy Spirit, gather all who share this one bread and one cup into the one body of Christ, a living sacrifice of praise."

Eucharistic Prayer for Children I "Father because you love us you invite us to come to your table. Fill us with the joy of the Holy Spirit as we receive the body and the blood of your Son."

Eucharistic Prayer for Children II "Send the Holy Spirit to all of us who share in this meal. May this Spirit bring us closer together in the family of the Church ...."

Eucharistic Prayer for Children III "Father in heaven, you have called us to receive the body and blood of Christ at this table and to be filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Through this sacred meal give us strength to please you more and more."

Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I "Father, look with love on those you have called to share in the one sacrifice of Christ. By the power of your Holy Spirit make them one body, healed of all division."

Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation II "Fill us with his Spirit through our sharing in this meal. May he take away all that divides us."

Eucharistic Prayer "A" "May his coming in glory find us ever-watchful in prayer, strong in love, and faithful to the breaking of the bread. Rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, your whole Church offers thanks and praise ... Then at last, will all creation be one and all divisions healed."

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

The Epiclesis Joined

Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon) "Let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord." ... "Almighty God... Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing." 

Eucharistic Prayer II "Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy, so that they become for us the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ." ... "May all of us who share in the body and blood of Christ be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit."

Eucharistic Prayer III "We ask you to make them holy by the power of your Spirit, that they may become the body and blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at whose command we celebrate this eucharist." ... "Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ."

Eucharistic Prayer IV "Father, may this Holy Spirit sanctify these offerings. Let them become the body and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord as we celebrate the great mystery which he left us as an everlasting covenant." ... "Lord, look upon this sacrifice which you have given your church; and by your Holy Spirit, gather all who share this one bread and one cup into the one body of Christ, a living sacrifice of praise."

Eucharistic Prayer for Children I "We bring you bread and wine and ask you to send your Holy Spirit to make these gifts the body and blood of Jesus your Son." ... "Father because you love us you invite us to come to your table. Fill us with the joy of the Holy Spirit as we receive the body and the blood of your Son."

Eucharistic Prayer for Children II "God our Father, we now ask you to send your Holy Spirit to change these gifts of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord." ... "Send the Holy Spirit to all of us who share in this meal. May this Spirit bring us closer together in the family of the Church ...."

Eucharistic Prayer for Children III "Father, we ask you to bless these gifts of bread and wine and make them holy. Change them for us into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your Son." [Note: There is no mention of the Holy Spirit.] ... "Father in heaven, you have called us to receive the body and blood of Christ at this table and to be filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Through this sacred meal give us strength to please you more and more."

Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I "...send forth the power of your Spirit so that these gifts may become for us the body and blood of your beloved Son, Jesus the Christ, in whom we have become your sons and daughters." ... "Father, look with love on those you have called to share in the one sacrifice of Christ. By the power of your Holy Spirit make them one body, healed of all division."

Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation II "We ask you to sanctify these gifts by the power of your Spirit, as we now fulfill your Son's command." ... "Fill us with his Spirit through our sharing in this meal. May he take away all that divides us."

Eucharistic Prayer "A" "Father, let your Holy Spirit move in power over us and over our earthly gifts of bread and wine, that they may become the body and blood of Christ." ... "May his coming in glory find us ever-watchful in prayer, strong in love, and faithful to the breaking of the bread. Rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, your whole Church offers thanks and praise ... Then at last, will all creation be one and all divisions healed."

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Doxology and Lament

Power, David, O.M.I. "When to Worship is to Lament" in Worship: Culture and Theology. Washington DC: The Pastoral Press, 1990. pp 155-173.

Bruggemann, Walter. "The Costly Loss of Lament," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. Vol 36 (1986) pp 57-71.

Bruggemann, Walter. "A Shape for Old Testament Theology, II: Embrace of Pain." Catholic Biblical Quarterly Vol 47 (1985) pp 395-415.

Bruggemann states the relation of doxology and lament: "Westermann has shown how the lament characteristically ends in praise which is full and unfettered. Indeed, the proper setting of praise is as lament resolved. In a sense, doxology and praise are best understood only in response to God's salvific intervention which in turn is evoked by the lament." (pp 57-58)

Bruggemann gives two reasons why lament is a necessary element of liturgy. 1) An ecclesiological reason: "One loss that results from the absence of lament is the loss of genuine covenant interaction because the second party to the covenant (the petitioner) has become voiceless or has a voice that is permitted to speak only praise and doxology. Where lament is absent, covenant comes into being only as a celebration of joy and well-being. Or in political categories, the greater party is surrounded by subjects who are always ‘yes men and women' form whom ‘never is heard a discouraging word'. Since such a celebrative, consenting silence does not square with reality, covenant minus lament is finally a practice of denial, cover up, and pretense, which sanctions social control." (p 60) 2) A psychological reason: "Where there is lament, the believer is able to take initiative with God and so develop over against God the ego strength that is necessary for responsible faith. But where the capacity to initiate lament is absent, one is left only with praise and doxology. God then is omnipotent, always to be praised. The believer is nothing, and can uncritically praise or accept guilt where life with God does not function properly. The outcome is a ‘False Self', bad faith which is based in fear and guilt and lived out as resentful or self-deceptive works of righteousness. The absence of lament makes a religion of coercive obedience the only possibility." (p 61)

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Conclusions / Iceberg

Earlier in the course we discussed how the metaphor of an iceberg could be used to help understand and explain the Eucharist.  (Our understanding of the Eucharist is like an iceberg in that the largest part lies unseen, beneath the water.)  Applying the image to the Eucharistic Prayer, we could say that some of the "above the water" elements of the Eucharistic Prayer that we have seen change in recent years are:  the prayer is prayed out loud by the priest; the prayer is in a language we can understand; the priest faces us and includes us in the prayer; there is no longer just one Roman prayer; etc.

At the same time that these "above the water" changes were taking place, there were "under the water" changes in the categories in which we understood the Eucharist.  Changes from philosophical and metaphysical categories to scriptural and psychological ones.  New understandings of the "shape" of the eucharist and the structure and elements of the Eucharistic Prayer.  These "under the water" changes in facts and attitudes in turn influence changes in behavior  (presidential style) and group behavior (e.g. liturgical law).

Change does not take place everywhere at the same pace.  Some things are easier to change than other things.  When discussing the dynamics of change we saw that the easiest and quickest thing to "change" or to learn is a new fact.  It takes more effort and more time to change attitudes.  It is harder yet and takes longer to change behavior.  And to change group behavior takes even more time and more effort.   What changes do you foresee in behavior  (presidential style) and group behavior (e.g. liturgical law) resulting from contemporary discoveries about the nature, structure, and function of the Eucharistic Prayer? 

Example

1900

Facts:  Roman Canon inspired.  Received unchanged from the Apostles.  Private prayer of the Priest.   The only valid prayer.    The priest says these words in persona Christi (This is MY body; MY blood)

Attitudes:   Canon is the prayer of the Priest with little or no participation of the people.  The essential moment:  the words of consecration (This is my Body.  This is my Blood).

Behavior:   My grandmother would stop saying her prayers and look up at the elevation of the host and say "My Lord and My God" and then go back to her private prayers.

Group Behavior:   Roman Canon prayed silently by the priest.  Bells rang to alert people to the moment of consecration.  Canon was in Latin.   Words of consecration printed in much larger type face in the Missal. 

1900 to 1962 Liturgical Movement

Facts:  Historical research into Eucharistic Prayer.  Discovery of other prayers.  Discovery of the BRK shape of the prayer. Discovery of the liturgical nature of the prayer.   Biblical renewal inspires new understanding of sacrament and presence (anamnesis).  The Holy Spirit's role in the epiclesis is evidenced in the prayers of the East. 

Group Behavior:  Prayer prayed out loud.  Prayer prayed in language of the People.  People's acclamations added to the Prayer.  New Prayers introduced.  Priest prays in first person plural.

1970 to 2070 -- The Time after the Council

Facts:  Priests, Seminarians, and laity taught about the structure and nature of the Eucharistic Prayer:  BRK; Anamnesis; Epiclesis;  Sacrament;  Meal; Biblical understanding of Sacrifice; relation of Eucharist to the Last Supper; union of the epiclesis, etc. Eucharist and social responsibility; ecumenical movement; new prayers, etc.

Attitudes?  What changes do you foresee in attitudes (devotion),  resulting from these facts with regard to the Eucharistic Prayer?

Behavior?  What changes do you foresee in behavior (presidential style) resulting from these facts with regard to the Eucharistic Prayer?

Group Behavior?  What changes do you foresee in group behavior (e.g. liturgical law) resulting from these facts with regard to the Eucharistic Prayer?

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Composing an Original Eucharistic Prayer

IIt is a helpful exercise to actually compose an original Eucharistic Prayer.  In the 1970's many communities actually did this and there were a variety of original Eucharistic prayers in use throughout the world.  Not all of these prayers were of equal merit, and some were actually terrible -- which led to the Congregation of the Sacraments forbidding this practice, some were very beautiful and prayerful (and we are currently deprived of this beauty).  In teaching the Eucharist course, I often recommend this exercise, if for no other reason than it lets the students experience why original compositions are currently not encouraged or permitted in the Roman Rite.  While students in the past have found this a good learning experience, it is a difficult exercise.  It involves knowledge of the structure, elements, and function of the Eucharistic Prayer, plus a sense of Scripture, the mystery of the feast, an artistic sense of proclamation, and a poet's skill with words. 

 

Purpose of this assignment   This exercise is intended to help you:
1.  become more aware of the structure of the Eucharistic Prayer
2.  experience something of the process involved in composing a good prayer
3.  practice composing a
liturgical prayer (in contrast to composing a devotional prayer)
4.  practice integrating scripture and liturgy (beyond the homily)
5.  see the differences between one Eucharistic Prayer and another
6.  experience of the relation of prayer and doctrine
7.  [Deacons:  increase your confidence in proclaiming the current prayers after your Ordination]
8.  understand and evaluate prayers that may be approved in the future. 

[Students who have completed this exercise in former years indicate that they have found it to be a very helpful project and that they have learned a lot from it and suggest that it remain an important part of the course.]

General Instructions

1.  Compose an original Eucharistic Prayer (topics will be assigned during the first class meeting)  The prayer is to have the BRK shape of our current Eucharistic Prayers (except for the epiclesis) and is to be written to be proclaimed on the assigned Feast.   Submit your prayer with the epiclesis joined, and, in addition (in parenthesis), indicate where and how the epiclesis to change the bread and wine would read if the epiclesis were split.  (See example below.)

2  Label the various parts of the prayer (Dialogue, Preface, Pre-Sanctus, Sanctus, etc.) and indicate those places where you have drawn on the feast or the readings assigned to the feast.

3.  Present your prayer using sense lines as in the Roman Sacramentary.   Sense lines are an aid to oral proclamation.  They contain one thought; presume a pause at the end of the line to facilitate communication; they can be said in one breath, etc.  Composing in sense lines is an art.  This is considered an important part of the exercise (and figures in the evaluation of your prayer) because you are composing a prayer that is intended to be proclaimed and heard, not simply a prayer to be read from a page.   (This is something of the same distinction between writing a homily on the eucharist and an essay on the Eucharist for your diocesan paper.  One is to be heard, one is to be read.  This involves different sentence structure, etc.

Example:  Eucharistic Prayer for the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, October 4

Author:  Thomas Richstatter

Occasion:  Solemnity of St. Francis of Assisi, October 4

Overview of the Solemnity: Francis died at Assisi on the evening of October 3, 1226. He was canonized in 1228, and his feast was immediately placed in the Roman Calendar to be celebrated on October 4.  Known for his evangelical poverty, the founder of the Franciscan Order was one of the leaders of the transition from monasticism to the mendicant orders.

First Reading: (Galatians 6:14-18)

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. [15] For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! [16] As for those who will follow this rule--peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. [17] From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. [18] May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

"The world has been crucified to me and I to the world... I bear the brand marks of Christ in my body..."  The reading alludes to Francis' love for the crucified Savior and to Francis'  stigmata.

Gospel:  Matthew 11:25-30

At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; [26] yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. [27] All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. [28] "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. [29] Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Matthew 11:25-30. "What you have hidden from the learned and clever you have revealed to the merest children."  The selection is chosen to correspond with the childlike simplicity of St. Francis in following the Gospel.

Eucharistic Prayer

(Dialogue)

The Lord be with you.
    All: And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
    All: We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
    All: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

(Preface - naming God)
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,                                  
all praise, glory, honor and blessing are yours.
(Francis often address God with these words in his own prayers)

(Preface continues - remembering --
with the words of Francis in his Canticle of the Creatures)
We thank you with all your creatures,
Brother Sun through whom you give us light,
With Sister Moon and the stars,
Brother Wind, and Sister Water.
We thank you for your manifestation in the crown of all creation,
Jesus, your Son,
who invites us to take his yoke and learn from him
for he is gentle and humble of heart.
(Matthew 11:28 - Gospel reading)
We thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth
because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent
and have revealed them to infants.
Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. (Matthew 11:25-26)
(Pre-Sanctus)
We join our voices with Saint Francis
and with all your little ones throughout the ages;
as together with all the angels
we sing a hymn to your glory.

(Sanctus)
Holy, Holy, Holy...

(Vere Sanctus)
O, Most High, you are holy indeed,
You reveal your holiness in Jesus your Son
who came among us to announce good news to the poor.
(If the epiclesis were to be split, the first part would occur here:)
(Father, send your Holy Spirit upon this bread and wine.
Let them become for us the Body and Blood of your Son.)

(Remembering:  Holy Thursday)
Father, we remember how
on the night before he suffered
he gathered at table with his friends;
he took bread and gave you thanks;
he broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples, and said:
Take this, all of you, and eat it:
This is my body which will be given up for you.
When supper was ended, he took the cup;
again he gave you thanks
and, handing the cup to his disciples, he said:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
This is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all.
So that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.
(Acclamation)
Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:
All: Christ has died...
(Remembering:  Paschal Mystery)
All-powerful, most holy, most high God (words of St. Francis praying)
we remember the passion and death of your Son;
we remember his resurrection and ascension to your right hand;
we thank you for the gift of salvation and the gift of your Son.
(Offertory)
Together with him
we offer you the gift of perfect Love
which he offered you on the cross:

(Epiclesis joined)
From his wounded side on the cross
he sent the Holy Spirit into the Church.
We pray that you would send your Holy Spirit upon this bread and wine.
Let them become for us the Body and Blood of your Son so that
we who receive them may become One Body, and give your perfect praise.
May we never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Galatians 6:14 -- quote from the first reading)

(Epiclesis split:  second half only)
From his wounded side on the cross
he sent the Holy Spirit into the Church.
We pray that you would send your Holy Spirit upon us
so that we who eat the one bread and drink the cup
become One Body, and give your perfect praise.
May we never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Galatians 6:14 -- quote from the first reading)

(Intercessions:  the Church and the Living--using the words of the "Peace Prayer of St. Francis)
Lord remember  N. our pope, N. our bishop.
Make your Church throughout the world a instrument of your peace
where there is hatred, May your Church sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where their is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
(Intercessions:  the dead)
And remember all those who have died;
may they dwell with you forever
(Intercessions:  the saints)
together with Mary, the Virgin Mother of God,
with the apostles, the martyrs,
Saint Francis and all the saints.
And when the fullness of your love is revealed,
may we join with them at your Heavenly Banquet
and give you glory
through Jesus Christ, your Son.
(Doxology)
Through him,
with him, in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
almighty Father, for ever and ever.
(Great Amen)
All: Amen.

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

Tips for Writing the Prayer

1.  Our currently approved Eucharistic Prayers are deliberately "general" so that they "fit" any occasion from Passion Sunday to Easter Sunday, baptism, wedding, or funeral. The Prayers for Children and the Prayers for Reconciliation are more specific and can give you some idea of what to do for this assignment. Your prayer is to be rather specific and related to a particular liturgical celebration.  Look at the Prefaces for Lent Cycle A  and observe the way they incorporate the Gospel proclamation into the prayer as events of salvation history which we gratefully remember and for which we thank God.  Use these Prefaces as paradigms in composing your prayer.  For further information see Variations in the Eucharistic Prayer

2.  The Eucharistic Prayer is a prayer. If you want to explain the Eucharist, use the parish Sunday bulletin (which more Catholics read than any other printed item!) or give them a copy of Catholic Update. The Eucharist prayer is prayer -- praise and thanksgiving -- not primarily catechesis.  Nor should prayers give God theology lessons.

[Return to top of this page]Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

To Think About

1.  [Critical reflection: If the epiclesis were not split, what would it look like? What do the prayers say about the role of the Holy Spirit and the Trinitarian nature of liturgical prayer? As the Roman Canon shaped scholastic theology and as the Roman Canon places less emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit and more emphasis on the role of Christ, and as this same theology understood priesthood to be Another Christ speaking in persona Christi, what effect might the restoration of the Holy Spirit to the epiclesis have on our understanding of priesthood? How does liturgical prayer describe what scholastic theologians described as transubstantiation?] Be able to outline each of the prayers in current use in the Roman Rite and indicate the names and function of the parts.

2.  What do you consider to be the most important things to know about the Eucharistic Prayer.

3.  Be able to outline any of the prayers in Jasper and to name the various parts of the prayer: Dialogue; Preface; Pre-Sanctus; Sanctus; Post Sanctus; EpiclesisB to change the bread and wine; Institution Narrative; Acclamation; Anamnesis; EpiclesisA to change the Church; Intercessions for the Church, pope, bishop; Intercessions for the dead; Invocation of the saints, Mary; Intercessions for the living; Doxology; Amen.

4.  Be able to recite from memory one of the currently approved Eucharistic Prayers.

5.  What does it mean to say that the Eucharistic Prayer is a "creed"?

6.   Americans are not accustomed to have someone speak (at length) in their name.  The nature of the prayer as a dialogue is not understood; the growing practice of the entire assembly reciting the prayer together needs to be addressed. "We" is not the plural of majesty but a true first person plural. The priest speaks in the name of the whole assemble and not just for himself or herself.  The growing practice of the whole assembly reciting the doxology needs to be addressed.  The metaphors for God need to be enriched.  In the prayers translated from Latin (and in future original prayers) greater care must be given to the issues of inclusive language.

Return to:   Top of This Page  ---  Eucharist  Index ---  Fr. Tom's Home Page

© Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 11/06/16 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at tomrichs@psci.net