A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH
Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation
ROME, 4 MARCH 2008 (ZENIT)
Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: During Sundays and weekdays of Lent, is it permissible to use one of the two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation rather than one of the usual four Eucharistic Prayers? — L.N., Nairobi, Kenya
A: The inclusion of the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation, along with those for Various Needs and the special ones for children's Masses, in the new Latin Missal means that these Eucharistic Prayers now form a stable part of the Church's treasury of liturgical prayer.
Previously, these prayers were technically approved by various ad hoc or experimental measures, although usually with no established time limit. They had been already included in some official translations of the full Roman Missal, such as the Spanish and Italian versions.
Regarding the use of the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation, the rubric in the Latin Missal notes the following.
These prayers may be used in Masses in which the mystery of reconciliation is particularly emphasized to the faithful. These include the Mass formulas for such needs as promoting social harmony, reconciliation, justice and peace, in times of war and social unrest, for the remission of sin, for the promotion of charity, the mystery of the Holy Cross, of the Holy Eucharist, and of the Precious Blood. Also included are Masses during Lent.
Although these Eucharistic Prayers have their own proper preface, it is permissible to use them with another preface that refers in some way to the themes of penance and conversion, for example, with the prefaces of Lent.
From the aforesaid, it is thus clear that these Eucharistic Prayers may be used during Lent.
The rubrics make no distinction between weekdays and Sundays, and so there is no reason why their use would be restricted on the Lord's Day, provided that one respects the proper prefaces that must be used on certain Lenten Sundays.
As well as the Masses suggested in the rubrics, these Eucharistic Prayers often prove useful during retreats and spiritual exercises when the time comes to foment reconciliation with God and discover his mercy.
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Follow-up: Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation [3-18-2008]
After our comments on the use of the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation during Lent (see March 4), a reader from Nairobi, Kenya, asked for clarifications regarding the prayers for Various Needs. He wrote:
"You had a note on the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation: 'Although these Eucharistic Prayers have their own proper preface, it is permissible to use them with another preface that refers in some way to the themes of penance and conversion, for example, with the prefaces of Lent.'
"I presume this does not apply, however, to the four 'Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs' which you also mentioned. Would I be right to assume that their prefaces are meant to be "fixed," like that of Eucharistic Prayer IV?"
Since no mention of substituting the preface is made in the Latin rubrics, our correspondent is correct in presuming that these four prayers may not be separated from their prefaces.
For this reason, using these prayers is limited to occasions when a Mass for Various Needs may be celebrated. Consequently, they are used above all during ordinary time as the celebration of these Masses is more or less restricted during the major liturgical seasons.
Actually, we are not really referring to four different Eucharistic Prayers, but of four versions of a single prayer that accentuate different themes. This accentuation is done above all during the preface of each version and in a section of the intercessions following the consecration.
Thus, separating these prayers from their preface would also undermine the particular theme that the prayer seeks to stress.
The first version — "The Church progressing in the path of unity" — is especially apt for Masses for the Pope, for the bishop, for the election of a Pope, for a council or synod, for priests, for the celebrating priest, for the ministers of the Church, and on the occasion of a spiritual or ecclesial assembly.
The second rendering — "God leads his Church in the way of salvation" — is recommended for Masses for the Church, for vocations, for the laity, for the family, for religious, for postulating charity, for relatives and friends, and Masses in thanksgiving.
The third adaptation — "Jesus the way to the Father" — is particularly suitable for Masses for the evangelization of peoples, for persecuted Christians, for the country or the city, for the head of state or government, for the parliament, at the beginning of the civil year, and for the progress of peoples.
The fourth hue of this Eucharistic Prayer — "Jesus, going about doing good" — is especially germane to Masses for refugees and exiles, in time of famine or for those suffering from hunger, for those who afflict or persecute us, for captives or those in prison, for the sick, for the dying, for imploring the grace of a good death, for any need.
This partial review of the Masses for Various Needs also affords us the opportunity of unearthing the treasury of the Church's intercessory prayer, so often left concealed and coffined in the missal.
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