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« Every Knee Should Bow | Main | Wither the Provinces? »

Sunday, June 29, 2008



I've heard it only a handful of times, along with Prayer I which mentions lots of Saints! Maybe because of the word "sacrifice", maybe it takes an extra minute of kneeling...oh brother

It's often used at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Springfield, MA

Johnny Domer

It's based on an old anaphora that was used in the East; I heard that it had something in it that some liberals considered sexist, so they don't really like it. Eucharistic Prayer II and III were really the ones that the liberals really loved; II because it was "what the early church did" (highly doubtful), and III because it was written by Vaggagini, who was a liturgical "expert" at the time of the Council and a harsh critic of the Roman Canon.

I have nothing against the prayer in and of itself; it's an orthodox prayer. However, I don't think it should be used in the Roman Rite because: A. I don't think there should be more than one Eucharistic prayer in the Roman Rite whatsoever, since the west has exclusively used the Roman Canon, even in the other Western Uses (Dominican Rite, Ambrosian Rite, etc.); plus more than one Eucharistic Prayer makes the use of Latin during the Eucharistic Prayer more impractical since there is too much for people to really get to know and learn what the priest is saying B. I don't think the West should be importing Eastern anaphoras any more than Eastern Rites should use the Roman Canon; imagine the holy hell that would be raised if we tried to do that! Different Rites have different prayers, and we don't need to try to mix up the two.


I used to hear it when I was younger. Also the version with a whole litany of saints.

It is a bit sacriligeous to say this, but it is just too long. Especially since we have so much music in the mass compared to when I was younger, the mass often runs over an hour, especially if the homily is long.

Sorry to offend anybody, but I think I am not alone in that assessment.



No offense taken by me!!!! I totally understand. When our children were in that 0-3 age range, I know I especially felt the length of homilies, announcements before the final blessing, and actually the Eucharistic prayers as I had never felt them before! As my son was crawling under the pew, and the priest would start in on the lengthier Eucharistic prayer, I would often think to myself, "Oh no! Come on Father! Not that one!" And the announcements ... I NEVER heard those darn things until the kids were at least 4 or older, and I'm sure the people around us never heard them either.


Johnny Domer

Eucharistic Prayer IV doesn't have a litany of the saints - that would be Eucharistic Prayer I.

Dan Hunter

This from the great writer: Michael Davies:


Towards the end of the fourth century St. Ambrose of Milan, in a collection of instructions for the newly baptized entitled De Sacramentis, quotes the central part of the Canon which is substantially identical with, but somewhat shorter than, the respective prayers of the Roman Canon. This proves beyond doubt that the core of our Canon, from the Quam oblationem (the prayer before the Consecration), including the sacrificial prayer after the consecration, was in existence by the end of the fourth century.
The earliest Roman Sacramentaries are the first complete sources for the Roman Rite. These were written in the Latin language which had gradually replaced Greek as the language of the Roman liturgy. Scholars differ as to the precise time when the transition was complete, giving dates from the second half of the third century up to the end of the fourth. Both languages must have been used side by side during a fairly long period of transition. The genius of the Latin language certainly affected the ethos of the Roman Rite. Latin is naturally terse and austere when compared with the rhetorical abundance of Greek. (F127) It was a natural tendency of Latin to curtail redundant phrases, and this terseness and austerity are a noticeable mark of the Roman Mass.

Of the Sacramentaries, three stand out as the earliest, the most complete, the most important in every way. These are the so­called Leonine, Gelasian, and Gregorian Sacramentaries, named respectively after three popes St. Leo (440-61), Gelasius (492-6), and St. Gregory the Great (590-604). The names imply an authorship which cannot be substantiated even in the case of St. Gregory. There is no evidence that Pope Gelasius contributed anything to the Sacramentary attributed to him; St. Leo may have composed some of the prayers in the Leonine Sacramentary, but this is not certain; but the Gregorian Sacramentary almost certainly contains some material composed by St. Gregory. The Leonine Sacramentary, the Sacramentarium Leonianum, the oldest of the three, can be found in a seventh century manuscript preserved in the Chapter Library at Verona. The Sacramentary had been preceded by what were known as Libelli Missarum. They were small books containing the formularies for parts of the Mass for the Church in a particular diocese or locality, but not the Canon which was fixed, the readings, or the sung parts. They provided the intermediary between extempore celebrations and the fixed formularies of the Sacramentary. No actual examples are known to have survived, but the certainty of their existence is known through literary references, and above all through the Leonine Sacramentary which consists of a collection of Libelli. Unfortunately the collection is not complete, and lacks both the Order and the Canon of the Mass, but it contains many Mass propers which can still be found in the Roman Missal.

The Gelasian Sacramentary is the oldest Roman Massbook in the proper sense of the term. It is far more complete than the Leonine, and has the feasts arranged according to the Ecclesiastical Year. It also contains the Canon and several votive Masses. The most ancient extant manuscript dates from the 8th century and contains some Gallican material.


I will have to agree with Jay - as liturgist I have found that many of the clergy do not choose EPIV because of the length. Therefore since they use EPII and EPIII more often they are more familiar with the gestures and nuances of II and III as opposed to I and IV. This does not disregard the beauty of the language of I or IV - perhpas liturgy committees that meet with the presiders could discuss the merits of I and IV and share how the prayer can be used without being boring - perhaps some catechesis on the prayers in the bulletin or before a liturgy begins. Trust me though - - I have never heard of the exculsion of I or IV as being a left-wing conspiracy (you may laugh) it is one part of the liturgy that is often left to the decision of the presider. Great thoughts here though - Thanks

Jack Dwyer

I think another problem is the line "... this one bread and one cup"... I know a some clergy were unhappy with the placement of this line so soon after the Consecration, and felt it diminished the reality of the change unnecessarily, or at least had that potential.

Most seem to use III, which is a compromise between I and II...



One of my most cherished possessions is a small prayer book given to my 75 year old father at his first communion six+decades ago.

I especially like the beginning pages which illustrate Roman Catholic altars around the world. The prayerbook encouraged one to join their prayers with a mass being said somewhere in the world.

It stressed that wherever one was on the globe, the exactly same mass was being said, at similar altars.

Although it will never happen, I wish we still had only one Eucharistic Prayer - the Roman Canon.

Perhaps through the intercession of Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude, Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian?


Dear Loyola,

It is a nice prayer. However, it is too long.

On another tack, why a prayer that mentions Sixtus, Cosmas and Damian (all worthy saints), and yet leave off such other worthy saints as Padre Pio, Maximilian Kolbe and Elizabeth Seton?

If a Catholic wants to find a mass with the Roman Canon, chances are now you probably can (in Latin) in most metro areas. Just don't force me to always have to listen to Prayer I. I think a couple of times a year, at Christmas and Easter is OK. The rest of the time, III is OK.

It seems to me that with 4 versons, everybody should be able to participate with a version that they prefer. They just have to check around different parishes.

Johnny Domer

I think these criticisms of Eucharistic Prayer I as being too long are somewhat silly. The fact is that it takes maybe three or four more minutes to pray it than it does to pray #2. Most priests could definitely knock at least five minutes off of their homily, and you could definitely shorten the amount of time it takes to receive Communion if parishes weren't constantly distributing Communion under both species at every single Mass (and thereby necessitating hordes of "extraordinary" ministers of Holy Communion).

Furthermore, this prayer has been used exclusively at least since the fourth century throughout the West. St. Augustine and St. Ambrose were using it. St. Gregory the Great used it. Every priest-saint since that time used it during Mass. How can we just dismiss it as "too long?" The saints it contains are Mary, Joseph, the Apostles, but then the great saints of the early church in Rome, including some of the earliest Popes (also martyrs). Through invoking these saints, the prayer provides us with a connection to the See of Peter--it's not merely "leaving out" saints who might have been more significant or saints who are phenomenally holy (it also doesn't include saints of the middle ages like St. Thomas or St. Francis). The names in it were not just randomly selected; there is a definite purpose behind the whole thing.

I guess I'm more sympathetic to the idea of "I personally find its length difficult when I've got my kid in the pew"; I definitely feel for those parents, even though I think the Mass could easily be shortened in lots of other areas where unnecessary, non-spiritually beneficial elements have been added. But I think one runs the risk of undercutting the immense worth and sanctity of this beautiful prayer that was at the heart of the spiritual lives of so many Saints when one merely says, "It's too long."


Johnny Domer,

I should have been clearer in making my point that I think the time issue is the reason most parishes use III (even if you take issue with the reason). I simply meant to express that I don't think there is any big liberal conspiaracy out there on this matter.

PS, you don't really object to receiving both species of the sacrament at mass do you (and extraordinary ministers)? That is clearly a revival of how Communion was received in earlier times in the church.

Dan Hunter

"PS, you don't really object to receiving both species of the sacrament at mass do you (and extraordinary ministers)? That is clearly a revival of how Communion was received in earlier times in the church."

This was condemned by Pope Pius XII in "Mediator Dei", as antiquarianism.

Bruno Moreno

Dan Hunter:

Whan Pius XII condemned was the view that the liturgy must always conform to the earliest liturgical practice.

Johny Domer would be guilty of antiquarianism if he thought it necessary to receive both species of the sacrament at Mass because that was the early practice of the Church.

Just thinking that it is a good thing to receive both species is certainly not antiquarianism.

It's supposed to be The Holy Sacrifice of The Mass wherein Calvary is reanacted. Christ is offered in an unbloody fashion. Did you read that? CHRIST is offered -- not bread and wine. Read the novus ordo and the Tridentine side-by-side. Which one is a reanactment of Calvary and which one represents a hermeunetic of rupture with Sacred Tradition. Is it any wonder that only a handful of Catholics believe in -- or even understand -- transubstantiation these days. Remember, "Lex orandi, lex credendi", or the "the law of prayer determines the law of belief" -- if the sacred species are still referred to as merely bread and wine AFTER the consecration, then are you witnessing a Catholic Mass or an Anglican/Protestant/Schismatical counterfeit.


The priest pointed to a box beside the alter and informed the children "Jesus is in there". How can an infinite god be put put in a finite space??

It is beautiful but could appear sexist to those who didn't know better. I've been a priest for 10 years and have never used it having said Mass over 4000 times! Perhaps it's time .....

Dan Hunter

"It is beautiful but could appear sexist to those who didn't know better."

Father, How does the Roman Canon appear "sexist", whatever that means?

Ut Prosim


I've heard the IV E. prayer several times. I think the problem of its infrequent use is two-fold: it is long. Many celebrants are afraid of making Mass "too long." And it has it's own preface, so the prayer can't be used in many situations wherein you'd want to choose a special preface.

Plus, I think many celebrants just get stuck in a rut of using II or III, and don't think about it much.


"Which one [NO or Trid] is a reanactment of Calvary and which one represents a hermeunetic of rupture with Sacred Tradition."

Both are a reenactment of Calvary. Or do you deny the validity of the NO?

The sacrificial character of the mass is explicitly mentioned frequently in the NO.

"May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands..."

"We offer you this sacrifice of praise for ourselves and those who are dear to us... Bless and approve our offering...Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchizedek.Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven" (EP1 Roman Canon)

"In memory of his death and resurrection, we offer you, Father,..." (EP2)

"so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made... we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice. Look with favor on your Church's offering, and see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself. ... Lord, may this sacrifice, which has made our peace with you, .... " (EP 3)

"we offer you his body and blood, the acceptable sacrifice which brings salvation to the whole world... Lord, look upon this sacrifice which you have given to your Church; ... Lord, remember those for whom we offer this sacrifice,... Remember those who take part in this offering" (EP4)

Not to mention the innumerable super oblata and post-communion prayers which mention the sacrifice.

(Of course it may be argued that the present English translation sometimes obscures this but the Latin editio typica is crystal clear)

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