Adding Names in Eucharistic Prayers

Author: Father Edward McNamara


Adding Names in Eucharistic Prayers

ROME, 17 FEB. 2009 (ZENIT)

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.  Q: The first three Eucharistic Prayers each include an opportunity to mention particular names of either the faithful or the deceased, namely at the Memento's ("Remember, Lord ..."). When should the priest exercise these opportunities? Is it permissible for one to omit the names in the Roman Canon? Also, the Eucharistic Prayers wonderfully recall the lives of the saints in heaven. Occasionally, a priest would add the name of the saint whose feast day we might be celebrating and/or the names of the saints who founded the religious order which the priest belongs to (if he is religious). While this seems fitting, is this proper (especially when Eucharistic Prayer III explicitly gives the option of adding the name of "the saint of the day or the patron saint" while no other Eucharistic Prayer gives this option)? — J.G., Lewisville, Texas 

A: As a general principle the names of the deceased, along with the specific formulas involved, are remembered in the Eucharistic Prayers only when there is a specific reason for doing so. This is, above all, the funeral Mass or a significant anniversary of death. 

On other occasions, if the Mass is being offered up for the soul of a deceased person, the name is best mentioned at the beginning of Mass or during the prayer of the faithful. Specific names of the deceased should not be habitually mentioned during the Eucharistic Prayer. 

A similar criterion applies for the living. With the exception of the pope and bishop, living people are mentioned only on rare occasions. For example, on the occasion of a baptism the godparents are mentioned at the Memento ("Remember Lord …") while adult neophytes are mentioned at the moment of the Hanc Igitur ("Father, accept this offering …"). Neophytes are usually recalled collectively at this moment during the Easter octave. 

Newlyweds are also named in a special Hanc Igitur and there are similar formulas for other occasions such as confirmation and ordination, although not all have the possibility of mentioning particular names. These formulas are usually found in the ritual for each sacrament rather than the order of Mass. 

Some bishops' conferences have also composed similar interventions for the other Eucharistic Prayers. 

Regarding mentioning the saints, each Eucharistic Prayer has its own characteristics and these must be respected. Before Pope John XXIII added St. Joseph, the Roman Canon traditionally listed 24 saints (12 apostles and 12 martyrs) in two separate groups. This list may now be shortened to seven by omitting the saints following St. Andrew in the first group and after St. Barnabas in the second. 

The full list is: 

First: Peter and Paul, Andrew, (James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude [apostles], Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, [5 Popes] Cyprian [bishop of Carthage], Lawrence [deacon], Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian [5 laymen]). 

Second: John the Baptist, Stephen [deacon protomartyr], Matthias, Barnabas [apostles], (Ignatius [bishop of Antioch], Alexander [Pope], Marcellinus [priest, Peter [exorcist], Felicity, Perpetua [2 married laywomen of Carthage], Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia [4 virgins], Anastasia [laywoman of Sirmium]). 

These lists thus represent the whole Church united in offering the most holy sacrifice of the altar insofar as Christians from all strands have been deemed worthy of martyrdom, the ultimate sacrifice for Christ. In this way the use of the full list, at least occasionally, can be very useful, among other messages, in illustrating the universal call to holiness. 

Of the other prayers, only Eucharistic Prayer III and the Eucharistic prayers for various needs have the possibility of adding the name of the patron saint of the church or the saint of the day. In this case it is probably a legitimate custom for a religious priest to mention the name of his founder, especially if celebrating in a church administered by his community. 

It is not legitimate, however, for any priest to add the names of saints if this possibility is not foreseen in the prayer itself. This means that a priest using the Roman Canon may invoke the list of seven saints or all 24 but may not add any other names not included in this list. Likewise, he may not insert any saint's names in Eucharistic Prayers II or IV, or the Eucharistic Prayers for reconciliation. 

In short, if he desires to mention a patron saint, then he must choose the third anaphora, or, if the occasion warrants it, one of the prayers for various needs.

* * *

Follow-up: Adding Names in Eucharistic Prayers [3-3-2009]

Related to our Feb. 17 answer on the inclusion of individual names in the Eucharistic Prayers, there were a couple of questions regarding the naming of the local bishop.

A Canadian reader asked: "My diocese is currently without a 'proper' bishop. Our apostolic administrator is a bishop. My question is, what am I supposed to do during the Eucharistic Prayer? Do I continue as usual — 'Benedict our Pope, and N. our bishop,' or do I say, 'N. our apostolic administrator' or simply, 'administrator'? Similarly, for Eucharistic Prayer III 'your servant, Pope Benedict, our bishop [apostolic administrator or simply administrator] N.'?"

Another reader, also from Canada, requested: "My question involves the prayer in which the priest prays for the Holy Father and the local bishop following the consecration. Our parish priest has taken to reversing the order. In other words, instead of mentioning Pope Benedict first and our local archbishop second, he reverses it by offering prayers for our local archbishop first, followed by the Holy Father second. This has annoyed a number of elders in our parish and I'd like to know what is right. I mentioned it to Father and his response was that his first loyalty is to his bishop, and all bishops, including the Pope, are equal, so it doesn't matter in what order he mentions them. I have attended several churches in our archdiocese and have not come across this reversal. What is correct?"

Although there is no absolute rule here, older liturgical manuals recommend simply omitting the mention of the expression "N. our bishop" when the episcopal see is vacant. The same principle is observed during the vacancy of the Holy See in which the expression "N. our Pope" is also omitted.

The apostolic administrator, even if he is a bishop, is usually not mentioned, although other prelates who are equivalent in law to the diocesan bishop (such as apostolic vicars, prefects, and the few remaining territorial abbots) are mentioned at this moment.

A possible exception might be when the local bishop has been transferred to another see but remains as apostolic administrator of his former diocese, pending the nomination of a successor. In such cases it is difficult to make a clear break when the bishop is still in charge.

A few months ago the Holy See published some technical changes to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 149, regarding this point. The changes specify that if a bishop celebrates outside of his diocese, he is to first mention the name of the local ordinary and then use the formula "and me, your unworthy servant."

The fact that the Church has recently gone to the trouble of revising the text so as to invert the order in which the bishop refers to himself and the local ordinary shows that this order is not indifferent.

This is because the "together with" (una cum) of the Roman Canon is not merely a prayer "for" the pope and bishop, and much less does it express some form of political loyalty.

The priest proffers the Eucharistic Prayer not in his own name but as representative of Christ and the Church. This formula therefore expresses a deeper theological reality in which the priest and the assembly manifest their belonging to the Universal Church through hierarchical communion with pope and bishop. The pope is the representative of this unity at the universal level; the bishop is this principle of unity at the local level. Communion with both pope and bishop are necessary if our Eucharist is to be authentically Catholic.

I have no idea as to the motives for this priest's inverting of the proper order, but the arguments defending it based on "loyalty," and the implication that the order is unimportant, suggest a certain lack of familiarity with some categories of liturgical theology and ecclesiology. 

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