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.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake