Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Few thoughts on Eucharistic Prayers


A load of old rubbish gets talked about the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer. Joe Shaw wrote about it recently, far from being ancient it was the construction of Annibale Bugnini. The truth is we don't know whether it was a "Eucharistic Prayer" or a liturgical text at all, or if was actually Catholic or belonged to an heretical sect, it probably wasn't by Hyppolytus the martyred (anti-pope). When I was at the seminary we were told it was ancient and Roman. Joe quotes Mgr Bugnini who himself says it is really a 1960s invention with ancient borrowings, with the addition of a Sanctus (if it is used it should be used with its Preface - otherwise it doesn't make much sense) and the words of consecration. It is useful for Masses with primary school children and I like the reference to the Holy Spirit coming like dew that is brought out in the new translations - rather than a roaring wind, or fire.

However the authentic Roman experience is gained from the Roman Canon, it is this which witnesses to the ancient Catholic faith. Its antiquity is demonstrated by its rather foreshortened Trinitarian theology - presumably from the time before the early Trinitarian Councils had been absorbed by the Church. It has certainly been tampered with; the addition of the epiclesis, for example, which incidentally was moved by Bugnini . Without the invocation of the Holy Spirit that is in the Extraordinary Form Offertory Prayers, it is open to the charge of tending towards the slightly heretical.

I love it because just meditating on it is an archaeological dig into the theology of the Roman Church of the first quarter of the first millennium. That clunky precision about who is doing the offering and who it is offered for, which was scratched out of the old vernacular translation. What it shows so clearly is how the Roman Church was dominated by the memory of the saints, the twenty-four that are commemorated reflect how authentic Catholicism is about the cherishing of their memory who in every age and state of life witness to the sacrifice of Christ, making up in their own bodies whatever is lacking in the sacrifice of Christ (Colossians 1:24). Without the saints it seems Catholicism is stripped of authenticity. This is perhaps a major deficiency of the other Eucharistic Prayers. It would be too drastic to suggest that they are not an authentic expression of the faith believed always and everywhere by Catholics but as the Prefect of the CDF has recently suggested concelebration, at least by priests without a presiding bishop, is not an authentic part of our Tradition can we not say this about the other Eucharist Prayers?

Just being controversial, tomorrow I will probably us No 3.

13 comments:

Amfortas said...

Go and tell that to Fr Dilke the next time he uses EP2 at the 11am solemn at the Oratory!

Physiocrat said...

How about we all read Eucharistic Prayer 1 together, silently? ;)

Aidan said...

Speaking as an Orthodox Christian (from a Protestant background, a very long time ago), I must say that I like the Roman Canon. I used to travel quite extensively on business, and couldn't always get to Divine Liturgy - in those cases I would go to the local Roman church. Sometimes I would be lucky and the priest would use the Roman Canon. On those occasions I could almost believe that I was in an Orthodox church.

I like Tradition, me.

Physiocrat said...

Using EP2 in the Novus Ordo Latin mass avoids the long spoken recitation. In the EF Mass the choir would be singing during the recitation of the canon. This is yet another good practical reason for going over to the EF Mass.

Sussex Catholic said...

Be careful with Number 3 as well Father. It was composed entirely from scratch by the Benedictine Fr.Cipriano Vagaggini. He was a systematic theologian who openly despised the Roman Canon because he thought it lacked structure and a clear unfolding narrative. His EPIII was intended to replace the Roman Canon completely but Pope Paul VI refused to agree to that. Don't get me wrong EPIII has a lovely structure and story to it and some beautiful imagery, but rather like EPII one could say "he's making it up as he goes along" albeit with a deeper knowledge of theology and liturgical history than most of us could even dream of.

William Tighe said...

For a delightfully savage critique of the three new 1969 eucharistic prayers by a crusty high-church Anglican clergyman liturgical scholar, see:

"The New Eucharistic Prayers: Some Comments," by Geoffrey G. Willis, in *The Heythrop Journal* XII:1 (January 1971), pp. 5-28. Willis uses two Latin phrases in this article to sum up what he sees as, respectively, the attitude of their framers, and the result of their labours: "Omne ignotum pro magnifico" and "In Tiberim defluxit Orontes." Willis lived from 1914 to 1982.

Even better still, one might search out Willis' posthumously-published, and at times delightfully barbed, *A History of Early Roman Liturgy to the Death of Pope Gregory the Great;* Henry Bradshaw Society, Subsidia 1 (1994, repr. 2009). The price of the book, however, whether one seeks it from the publisher or online from such sources as Abebooks.co.uk or amazon.co.uk, is of an astonishing exorbitancy.

William Tighe said...

For a delightfully savage critique of the three new 1969 eucharistic prayers by a crusty high-church Anglican clergyman liturgical scholar, see:

"The New Eucharistic Prayers: Some Comments," by Geoffrey G. Willis, in *The Heythrop Journal* XII:1 (January 1971), pp. 5-28. Willis uses two Latin phrases in this article to sum up what he sees as, respectively, the attitude of their framers, and the result of their labours: "Omne ignotum pro magnifico" and "In Tiberim defluxit Orontes." Willis lived from 1914 to 1982.

Even better still, one might search out Willis' posthumously-published, and at times delightfully barbed, *A History of Early Roman Liturgy to the Death of Pope Gregory the Great;* Henry Bradshaw Society, Subsidia 1 (1994, repr. 2009). The price of the book, however, whether one seeks it from the publisher or online from such sources as Abebooks.co.uk or amazon.co.uk, is of an astonishing exorbitancy.

gabriel harrington said...

But the prsent holy father appears to favour euch prayer 3, he uses at most solemn occasions including christmas and easter.

John Nolan said...

The epiclesis in the Roman Canon is surely the Quam oblationem. The Veni sanctificator in the EF was, I believe, a relatively late addition to the Offertory prayers.

William Tighe said...

In a way, one can understand the Holy Father's preference for EP 3: it is shorter than the Roman Canon, and it is a sui generis new composition, loosely modelled on Gallican/Mozarabic eucharistic prayers.

This is unlike EPs 2 and 4. EP 2 is a chopped, filleted, farced and mutilated "rendition" of aspects of the so-called "Prayer of Hippolytus," while EP 4 is a chopped, filleted, farced and mutilated version of the "Egyptian Anaphora of St. Basil." In the case of EP 4 the original idea was to adopt (not "adapt") that Egyptian prayer, but then Card. Vaggagini made a great fuss over how having a consecratory epiclesis after the Institution Narrative (as "St. Basil" does) would "confuse the faithful," and so the liturgical surgeons (or should I write "butchers"?) got to work on it, and produced the version we have now.

According to J. R. K. Fenwick's *The Anaphoras of St. Basil and St. James* (Rome, 1992) St. Basil actually was the author (or composer) of the EPs that bear his name: first, the relatively shorter one that survives only in Egypt and is still used there by the Copts; second, an expansion, which survives only in Armenian manuscripts, and has not been used for a milennium or more; and, third, the very long (expanded and in part reorganized) anaphora of St. Basil used by the Orthodox churches and Eastern Catholic churches of the Byzantine Rite.

William Tighe said...

If the epiclesis be an invocation of the Holy Ghost to transform the bread and wine into Christ's Body and Blood (and also invoking the Holy Ghost among the recipients for a fruitful communion) then the Roman Canon has never, ever had an epiclesis in the former sense, and the only trace of one in the latter sense is in the so-called "Prayer of Hippolytus."

If, however, one takes "epiclesis" as a generalized petition (directed, in this case, to God the Father) for the consecration of the elements, then the "Quam oblationem" may be considered one -- although the primordial idea underlying the Roman Canon is ot so much the descent of the Holy Ghost to consecrate the elements, as their being taken on high to the heavenly altar by "the Holy Angel" (Christ himself, "the angel of good counsel") there to be blessed and transformed before being rec'd by the faithful.

William Weedon said...

Hence, Dr. Tighe, St. Nicholas Cabasilas referring to "an ascending epiclesis" in the Roman Canon in his marvelous little work On the Life in Christ.

William Tighe said...

Yes, Pastor Weedon; and I think that those Orthodox who have given a positive assessment to the Roman Canon (a Russian theological commission just before 1919; and a commission answering to the Moscow Patriarchate some time in the last decade) usually identify the "Supplices te rogamus ..." petition, and not the "Quam oblationem ..." as that "ascending epiclesis."