Inserts Into Eucharistic Prayers

Author: Father Edward McNamara, LC


Inserts Into Eucharistic Prayers

By Father Edward McNamara

Rome, 19 May 2015 (ZENIT)

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

Q1: During Mass the Eucharistic Prayers I, II, III, and IV are to be used as it stands. May a bishop of a diocese insert a special prayer in them, for example, a prayer for vocations? — B.W., Windhoek, Namibia.

Q2: When a concelebrant is chosen to offer part of a Eucharistic Prayer, may he elect to add "... and for priests and religious and all of God's people" after the mention of the name of the Holy Father and the bishop? Also, is there an option to add, "And for auxiliary (or 'retired') bishop so and so"? — J.P., Pennsylvania

A: The answer to the first question is no. The single diocesan bishop may not add or insert other prayers into the Eucharistic Prayers. If he wishes to insert special prayers into the Mass, he may mandate, for example, a special prayer to be included within the Prayer of the Faithful.

For a grave reason he may also mandate or permit that a special Mass formula be used, even if under normal circumstances the liturgy would not allow for such a formula to be used. For example, if circumstances required it, he could mandate the celebration of the Roman Missal's Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice even on a Sunday of Christmastide or ordinary time or on any other liturgical day except solemnities, Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter, Holy Week, the octave of Easter, Ash Wednesday and All Souls.

The bishops of England and Wales offer the following sound suggestions for including special prayer intentions within Mass:

"On the Day of Special Prayer itself, and especially on Sundays, it is appropriate to announce the Day of Special Prayer in the opening remarks at the beginning of Mass, and for the special intention to be included in the Prayer of the Faithful (Bidding Prayers). Care should be taken that the remaining petitions of the Prayer of the Faithful should be formulated in accordance with the norms given in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

"When a Day of Prayer or other observance falls on a Sunday, the Mass and Lectionary texts of the Sunday are normally to be used.

"On weekdays the use of suitable 'Masses for Various Needs and Occasions' or 'Votive Masses' should be considered to support the marking of the Day of Prayer. The readings assigned for each day in the Lectionary for weekdays should not be omitted too frequently and without sufficient reason. It is often more fruitful to explore any special intentions through the readings assigned to the day, than to choose from the Common those which may appear at first sight more appropriate to the intention.

"The homily at Mass is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should develop some aspect of the readings from the scriptural readings or liturgical texts of the Mass, while taking into account the mystery being celebrated or the needs proper to the listeners. The homily should not be narrowly confined to the intention of the Cycle of Prayer alone, nor be replaced by a non-homiletic talk or an appeal for money."

If, however, a bishop is convinced that there is a good pastoral reason to include an insert into the Eucharistic Prayer, or any other permanent change to the missal, he should first of all persuade two-thirds of the bishops' conference that his idea is a good one. Once the bishops have voted in favor of his proposal, it is then sent to Rome for confirmation, and only after the Holy See has given its approval can the innovation be inserted into the missal in that country.

Following this procedure, some bishops' conferences, such as the Spanish and Italian, have added an insertion into the Eucharistic Prayers to be used every Sunday. They have also added some texts and Masses to other parts of the missal.

With respect to the second question, it should be clear that if a bishop does not have authority to add to the Eucharistic Prayer, then the priest should not do so, either.

However, the auxiliary may be mentioned as this possibility is already contemplated in the missal itself. Regarding the mention of other bishops beside the local ordinary, the Congregation for Divine Worship issued a decree on June 8, 2008, (protocol No. 652/08/L) that amended the third typical edition of the Latin Roman Missal just before publishing a reprint with numerous corrections. The contents of this decree have been incorporated into the English translation of the Roman Missal which now reads as follows:

"149. The priest continues the Eucharistic Prayer in accordance with the rubrics that are set forth in each of the Prayers.

"If the celebrant is a Bishop, in the Prayers, after the words Papa nostro N. (N., our Pope), he adds: et me indigno famulo tuo (and me, your unworthy servant). If, however, the Bishop is celebrating outside his own diocese, after the words Papa nostro N. (N., our Pope), he adds: et me indigno famulo tuo, et fratre meo N., Episcopo huius Ecclesiae N. (me, your unworthy servant, and my brother N., the Bishop of this Church of N.).

"The diocesan Bishop or anyone equivalent to him in law must be mentioned by means of this formula: una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N. et Episcopo (or Vicario, Prelato, Praefecto, Abbate) (together with your servant N., our Pope, and N., our Bishop [or Vicar, Prelate, Prefect, Abbot]).

"It is permitted to mention Coadjutor and Auxiliary Bishops in the Eucharistic Prayer, but not other Bishops who happen to be present. When several are to be named, this is done with the collective formula et Episcopo nostro N. eiusque Episcopis adiutoribus (N., our Bishop and his assistant Bishops).

"In each of the Eucharistic Prayers, these formulas are to be modified according to the requirements of grammar."

When a concelebrant mentions the bishop in Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV, he also follows the above rule.

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