ROME, 23 FEB. 2010 (ZENIT)
Answered by Legionary of Christ
Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina
Q: I have a question about proper, or invariable, prefaces.
During Lent, the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation seem
particularly appropriate. One popular liturgical planning guide
even recommends using them. Sundays and weekdays of Lent,
however, have proper prefaces. Are the two Eucharistic Prayers
for Reconciliation therefore not allowed?
D.H., Addison, Illinois
A: The rubric which precedes the Eucharistic Prayers for
Reconciliation in the new Latin Missal states that while this
preface is normally invariable, it may be substituted by another
one, provided that it contains the theme of reconciliation and
forgiveness. The rubric then suggests the Lenten prefaces as a
suitable example for such substitutions.
Therefore, it is possible to adopt the Lenten prefaces when
using these Eucharistic Prayers. Indeed, it is sometimes done by
the Pope when he celebrates the traditional Ash Wednesday
station Mass in the Basilica of St. Sabina on Rome's Aventine
The converse is also possible on most Lenten weekdays; that is,
one may use the prayer of reconciliation with its proper preface
during Lent. This option is not available on Sundays, which have
specific prefaces, or during the fifth week of Lent and Holy
Week where the prefaces of the Passion of the Lord are
This possibility of substitution is not offered for the other
Eucharistic Prayers with proper prefaces.
Eucharistic Prayer IV may never be separated from its preface,
and so its use during Lent is limited to weekdays of the first
four weeks. This Eucharistic Prayer may not be used whenever a
"proper preface" is obligatory. Proper preface is usually
interpreted as preface of the day and not of the season. Hence,
the fourth anaphora can usually be used whenever the missal
offers a choice of several seasonal prefaces, unless the rubric
of the days logically excludes this possibility.
For example, the prayer may be used on Lenten weekdays 1-4
because any one of the Lenten seasonal prefaces may be used. On
Sundays, however, either the preface is specific to the day or a
Lenten preface is specifically mandated.
The Eucharistic Prayers for Masses for Various Needs are
practically never used during Lent because their use is
restricted to whenever one of these Masses is celebrated. Since
such devotional Masses are excluded during the Lenten season,
except for grave reasons and by mandate or consent of the
bishop, the occasion to use them almost never arises.
* * *
Follow-up: Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation
Related to the question as to the use of the Eucharistic Prayers
for Masses of Reconciliation (Feb. 23), a reader had inquired
about the different cycles of readings:
"My question is: When in one of the three year Sunday readings
cycles (A, B and C) are priests allowed to substitute a
different year's readings for the current year at Sunday
Mass? This was done in two parishes near me recently (Fourth
Sunday in Lent) on the basis that there were RCIA candidates
being initiated into the Church at Easter and that a different
year's readings were deemed more relevant to the
reception/preparation of the candidates. If there are
initiations every year at Easter (as seems to be the case in at
least one of the parishes), it would seem to me that these
parishes might never have the readings of the omitted year. Are
there any rules about swapping around the Sunday readings?"
This might effectively be the case. The introduction to the
lectionary specifically mentions this possibility. To wit:
"97. The Gospel readings are arranged as follows:
"The first and second Sundays [of Lent ndr] maintain the
accounts of the Temptation and Transfiguration of the Lord, with
readings, however, from all three Synoptics.
"On the next three Sundays, the Gospels about the Samaritan
woman, the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus have been
restored in Year A. Because these Gospels are of major
importance in regard to Christian initiation, they may also be
read in Year B and Year C, especially in places where there are
Thus, a parish that has catechumens every year might never use
the Lenten readings from cycles B and C, at least at those
Masses attended by the elect. This might be a small
disadvantage, but I believe it is far outweighed by the
privilege of being able to receive new members into the Church
every Easter season.