Treasures From Our Tradition

  Preview Weekly Bulletin for July 23rd, 2017


For centuries, the only Eucharistic Prayer we heard as Western Catholics was the old Roman Canon, usually recited in a low voice by the priest, in Latin. By the 1940s, many Catholics were learning to follow along with the actions of the priest by means of a bilingual missal, with Latin on one side and English on the other. Drawings of the priest’s position at the altar, moving from one side to the other, or bowing or standing with uplifted hands at the center, helped the readers stay on track.

The Roman Canon is a long prayer, and since it was done every day for every occasion, priests had a way of galloping through it. Even though long, its structure is fairly simple, with the consecration and sacrifice clearly marked out. Sadly, this surviving prayer had triumphed over many treasures of our tradition that emphasized other dimensions of Eucharist. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy in 1963 did not call directly for new Eucharistic Prayers, but that direction was inevitable. Discussion began almost immediately, and by 1967 the Vatican approved three new Eucharistic Prayers. In 1974, the Congregation for Worship unveiled the experiment of two Eucharistic Prayers for Masses of Reconciliation, and three for Masses with Children. At last, a period of creativity and enrichment had begun.

—Rev. James Field, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co.