Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation

Author: Father Edward McNamara


Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation

ROME, 23 FEB. 2010 (ZENIT)

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

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 Hill.

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 prescribed.

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.

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Follow-up: Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation [3-9-2010]

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 catechumens."

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.


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