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qui omnem sanctificationem compleret

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 09, 2006

Last weekend I heard the 4th Eucharistic Prayer for the first time in a while. It struck me forcefully that, read together with its preface, it's an almost unimprovably succinct narrative of Catholic faith. In fact, if a curious Buddhist or Moslem were to ask, "What do you Catholics believe about God?" you could hardly do better than hand them that preface and prayer in response. It's all there: divine sublimity, creation, adoration, disobedience, covenant, prophecy, incarnation, redemption, resurrection, ascension, the gift of the Spirit, eucharistic vigil in expectation of the second coming of Christ. The Creed is also an epitome of Catholic faith, but as is proper to its purpose its affirmations are responses to doctrinal controversies. In EP4 the faith is presented as the simple unfolding of salvation history: no bush-fires or ice storms have left their mark on the tree.

It's a hope-illumined prayer. It keeps its gaze fixed on our sanctification: the sacramental business going on now as well as its consummation at the end of history. There's a monastic tranquility and recollectedness about it, taking in human, angelic, and divine activity in a single glance sub specie aeternitatis. If I were a monk I'd see it as a vocational Magna Carta.

For some years we used to hear the 4th Eucharistic Prayer pretty frequently, then a more politically fastidious clergy choked on all the masculine generics ("Even when HE disobeyed you and lost your friendship you did not abandon HIM to the power of death, but helped all MEN to seek and find you...) and it fell into disuse. I'm not certain it works perfectly in the Mass myself; there's a lot of sacred history crammed into second-person discourse, and that history seems more fittingly narrated to the people than addressed to God the Father. Yet something would be lost if it were to vanish in the combat to come. Most of the 1970s liturgical gimcrack deserves to end in the bonfire, but I hope this brand is plucked from the burning.

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  • Posted by: ColmCille - Nov. 12, 2006 9:16 PM ET USA

    "I also don't mind more than one because when our human ears get too used to anything we stop really hearing it. " I'd rather not hear it at all. I'd rather we go back to the silent Canon. When the priest faces us and says the Canon out loud, it is like he is talking to us. Let's turn the priest back around, and let him offer the sacrificial prayer to God silently; then there will be no mistaking who he is talking to, and the marvelous mystery and magnificence of the moment is magnified.

  • Posted by: voxfem - Nov. 09, 2006 11:47 PM ET USA

    As a general rule I'm against self agrandizement at Mass (eg most of the modern songs). But I don't see EP IV is that way. Remembering God's actions in relationship to us is valid worship. I like hearing both I and IV. I also don't mind more than one because when our human ears get too used to anything we stop really hearing it. But what about the new prayers which some priests are already using? Have they been approved for use in the US?

  • Posted by: Aussie - Nov. 09, 2006 8:24 PM ET USA

    Perhaps Altar Boy should read some good orthodox histories of the liturgy and liturgical development before he starts regurgitating garbage that smells suspiciously like he may have stepped in one of Michael Davies liturgical fictions.

  • Posted by: Andy K - Nov. 09, 2006 5:07 PM ET USA

    I just found the following link which describes the pedigrees of the "other" Eucharistic Prayers.

  • Posted by: Andy K - Nov. 09, 2006 5:04 PM ET USA

    Dear Altar Boy, I must concur with Dom. Perhaps it is time for you to visit an Eastern Church. That would count as your Sunday obligation if you attend a Divine Liturgy with the Maronites (who never fell into schism), a Byzantine parish (Greek, Ukrainian, etc.), or perhaps another Eastern Church. They use a liturgy that is far more ancient than that of Trent, the derivation of Tridentine (which would only be ~500 years old).

  • Posted by: - Nov. 09, 2006 3:37 PM ET USA

    I once heard it read :"Even when HE disobeyed you and lost your friendship you did not abandon THEM to the power of death, but helped ALL to seek and find you... " When I asked why he did not de-gender "HE disobeyed" the priest responded "well that part does not offend anyone."

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Nov. 09, 2006 3:26 PM ET USA

    Amen, Diogenes. I prayed Eucharistic Prayer IV last week at one of the daily Masses here... The prayer does present the Faith well. And, yes, the Novus Ordo, when properly, reverently offered, is a beautiful, awesome gift from God. Eucharistic Prayer I, the Roman Canon, is the standard, nonetheless. I hope that the new translation from the Latin to English (of the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal) will be more faithful and attuned to the Latin text.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 09, 2006 3:22 PM ET USA

    Altar boy, then I suppose you want to get rid of the Eastern-rite Catholics and other rites with their own liturgies, some of them older than the Tridentine Mass. The point of catholicity is that there are many ways to reveal the one Truth.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 09, 2006 11:59 AM ET USA

    Tell me, Di, why do we need four of these prayers? What was wrong with the one that we had? This particular change in the liturgy is a perfect illustration of modernism at work. It’s as though the Church is telling its people that the Faith can be confirmed, not just in the one, unified (Catholic) way, but in whatever way makes them feel the most comfortable--ala the Protest-ants. BTW: Which pope was it that, when asked to change the Roman Canon, reportedly exclaimed, “But I am only the Pope!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 09, 2006 9:54 AM ET USA

    But in reality, it truly is a matter of Tridentine vs. Novus Ordo. Because in reality, show me more than a handful of examples of the NO Mass being celebrated properly. I give you EWTN's daily Mass. St. Agnes in St. Paul, MN. You can probably count the rest on your right hand. Then you have the Anglican Use liturgy approved by JPII in 1984, but this isn't strictly NO, it's Anglican Use, and there are only five parishes in the U.S. If you want reverence, you know where to go to get it.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 09, 2006 8:51 AM ET USA

    Seems to me, there are many synopses of the Faith that probably do a better job of it. Isn't the issue whether such are appropriate appropriate and consistent with the past? Constantly talking to ourselves at Mass seems consistent with the last 40 years of self-centered, garolous, document-word-filled ecclesial history, but I am not so sure that's appropriate, anymore than I feel comfortable with # II and III. But what is one man's ignorant opinion worth anyway?

  • Posted by: Eagle - Nov. 09, 2006 6:03 AM ET USA

    Thank you. The primary liturgical issue is not "Novus Ordo vs. Tridentine Mass"; it's a loss of a celebrated liturgy filled with "wonder and awe" at the transcendent God sending his Son to man that man might become in Communion with, and transformed into, a son of God. In this secular age the liturgy must have a sense of the transcdendent and sacred; in this brutal age of euthanasia, abortion and terror, the liturgy must have a sense of the dignity given to man in Christ.