July 17, 2018

Incorporating Laudato Si’ into the Eucharistic Prayer at Lord’s Day Eucharist

Pope Francis


The General Instruction of the Roman Missal [GIRM] both gives us a sense of the central importance of the Eucharistic Prayer to the celebration of the Mass:

  • 78. Now the center and high point of the entire celebration begins, namely the Eucharistic Prayer itself, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. The Priest calls upon the people to lift up their hearts towards the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving; he associates the people with himself in the Prayer that he addresses in the name of the entire community to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore the meaning of this Prayer is that the whole congregation of the faithful joins with Christ in confessing the great deeds of God and in the offering of Sacrifice.

and a suggestion about how the community’s attention might be focused during the prayer:

  • 31. …[I]t is also for the Priest, in the exercise of his office of presiding over the gathered assembly, to offer certain explanations…. He is permitted…in a very few words, to give the faithful an introduction to the Mass of the day (after the initial Greeting and before the Penitential Act), to the Liturgy of the Word (before the readings), and to the Eucharistic Prayer (before the Preface), though never during the Eucharistic Prayer itself; he may also make concluding comments regarding the entire sacred action before the dismissal.

In the light of these directives, perhaps the wisest way to integrate the themes of Laudato Si’ into the Eucharistic Prayer is for the priest celebrant to highlight phrases from the text he will pray just before the six-fold dialogue that begins the prayer. I will here highlight the reasons for choosing a particular Eucharistic Prayer and texts from the prayer that might be called to the attention of the praying assembly so as to deepen their engagement with the prayer.1

Eucharistic Prayer I or the Roman Canon

Eucharistic Prayer I, or the Roman Canon, which may always be used, is especially suited for those days to which a proper text for the Communicantes…is assigned or in Masses endowed with a proper form of the Hanc igitur…and also in the celebrations of the Apostles and of the Saints mentioned in the Prayer itself; likewise it is especially suited for use on Sundays, unless for pastoral reasons Eucharistic Prayer III is preferred [GIRM 365a].

In pastoral practice in much of the United States, however, Eucharistic Prayer I rarely employed, perhaps because of its length or because its chiastic structure makes it difficult for the assembly to follow the progress of thought in the Prayer. It has no proper Preface of its own, so, unless a particular Preface is mandated for the celebration of a feast or season, we are free to use any of the Prefaces that might highlight the themes of Laudato Si’. Despite its venerable antiquity, the Prayer does not strongly articulate these themes in the body of the Prayer. If the Roman Canon is chosen, the priest celebrant might introduce it by noting how the Prayer acknowledges God as the Creator and Sustainer of all that is, emphasizing the “integral ecology” of Pope Francis’ teaching:

Heaven and earth are full of your glory…. (Sanctus)
Order our days in your peace… (Hanc igitur)
Be pleased to look upon these offerings / with a serene and kindly countenance, / and to accept them, / as once you were pleased to accept / the gifts of your servant Abel the just, / the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, / and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, / a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim. (Supra quae)
Through [Christ] / you continue to make all these good things, O Lord; / you sanctify them, fill them with life, / bless them, and bestow them upon us. (Per Christum)

Eucharistic Prayer II

Adapted from the Anaphora found in an ancient church order, the Apostolic Tradition, Eucharistic Prayer II is probably the most frequently used of all the Eucharistic Prayers in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, at least in the United States. GIRM 365b teaches:

  • Eucharistic Prayer II, on account of its particular features, is more appropriately used on weekdays or in special circumstances. Although it is provided with its own Preface, it may also be used with other Prefaces, especially those that sum up the mystery of salvation, for example, the Common Prefaces….

Due to its brevity, the text of Eucharistic Prayer II does not emphasize the themes of Laudato Si’ with any intensity. However, its proper Preface and the Common Prefaces recommended for use with this Prayer could highlight the role of Christ in providing the template or model for the Father’s intentions in Creation:

  • It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, / always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father most holy, / through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, / your Word through whom you made all things (Proper Preface)
    In [Christ] you have been pleased to renew all things, / giving us all a share in his fullness. (Common Preface I)

Eucharistic Prayer III

ontrary to Louis Bouyer’s view that Eucharistic Prayer III “adopts the development and certain of the most felicitous formulas of the Mozarabic and Gallican tradition2,” Enrico Mazza shows that Roman Canon is the model for this anaphora, filtered through the work of Coetus X engaging with a plan for the reform of the Canon published by Cyprian Vaggagini in 1966, and eventually approved by Paul VI3. GIRM 365c teaches: “Eucharistic Prayer III may be said with any Preface. Its use should be preferred on Sundays and festive days….”

The priest celebrant may wish to highlight the emphasis Eucharistic Prayer III places on God as source and sustainer of the created order with these rich phrases:

You are indeed Holy, O Lord, / and all you have created / rightly gives you praise, / for through your Sons our Lord Jesus Christ, / by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, / you give life to all things and make them holy…. (Post-Sanctus)

Eucharistic Prayer IV

Calling it the “most theological of all the Eucharistic Prayers,” Mazza follows M. Arranz in likening the structure of the prayer to Syro-Antiochene anaphoras, except for the first epiclesis which comes from the Alexandrian liturgy: “After the opening dialogue, the prayer praises God for his greatness, that is, for himself. Next comes the Sanctus and after it a lengthy thanksgiving for the history of salvation, beginning with creation. The first epiclesis asks that the Spirit would transform the bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord. This petition leads into the account of institution. The account is followed by the anamnesis in the narrow sense, which leads, via the prayer of offering, into the second epiclesis. After the intercessions, the trinitarian doxology from the Roman Canon closes this anaphora as it does all the others of the Roman rite.”4 GIRM 365d notes that “Eucharistic Prayer IV has an invariable Preface and gives a fuller summary of salvation history. It may be used when a Mass has no Preface of its own and on Sundays in Ordinary Time.”

Citing the following phrases from the Prayer as an introduction to its themes, the priest celebrant may help to focus the assembly’s prayer:

[Y]ou [God],…have made all this is, / so that you might fill your creatures with blessings / and bring joy to many of them by the glory of your light. (Preface) We give you praise, Father most holy, / for you…have fashioned all your works / in wisdom and in love. (Post Sanctus)
You formed man in your own image / and entrusted the whole world to his care, / so that in serving you alone, the Creator, / he might have dominion over all creatures (Post Sanctus) That we might live no longer for ourselves / but for him who dies and rose again for us, / [Christ] sent the Holy Spirit from you, Father, / as the first fruits for those who believe, / so that, bringing to perfection his work in the world, / he might sanctify creation to the full. (Post Sanctus)
[W]ith the whole of creation, / freed from the corruption of sin and death, / may we glorify you through Christ our Lord, / through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.

Eucharistic Prayers for Masses of Reconciliation

These two anaphoras arose for use during the Holy Year of 1975 dedicated to the theme of reconciliation. Originally intended for use ad experimentum, their use has been extended without a temporal limit and they are bound in the present editions of the Roman Missal. Because they have their own proper Prefaces, they were originally limited to settings where the rubrics did not demand another Preface, but more recent legislation states:

The Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation may be used in Masses in which the mystery of reconciliation is conveyed to the faithful in a special way, as, for example, in the Masses for Promoting Harmony, For Reconciliation, For the Preservation of Peace and Justice, In Time of War or Civil Disturbance, For the Forgiveness of Sins, For Charity, of the Mystery of the Holy Cross, of the Most Holy Eucharist, of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as in Masses during Lent. Although these Eucharistic Prayers have been provided with a proper Preface, they may also be used with other Prefaces that refer to penance and conversion, as, for example, the Prefaces of Lent.

Eucharistic Prayer for Masses of Reconciliation I

The priest celebrant may wish to draw the community’s attention to the following phrases appearing in the prayer that have a special affinity to the teaching in Laudato Si’:

As we celebrate / the memorial of your Son Jesus Christ, / who is our Passover and our surest peace…. (Post Institution Narrative)
Help us to work together for the coming of your Kingdom, / until the hour when we stand before you, / Saints among the Saints in the halls of heaven…. (Petitions)
…[F]reed at last from the wound of corruption / and made fully into a new creation, / we shall sing to you with gladness / the thanksgiving of Christ, / who lives for all eternity. (Petitions)

Eucharistic Prayer for Masses of Reconciliation II

The Second Eucharistic Prayer for Masses of Reconciliation is arguably the most extensive of the Prayers to grapple with the themes of Laudato Si’. There are a wealth of phrases by which the priest celebrant might focus the community’s prayer just before proclaiming this anaphora:

For though the human race is divided / by dissension and discord, / yet we know that by testing us / you change our hearts / to prepare them for reconciliation. (Preface) …[B]y your Spirit you move human hearts / that enemies may speak to each other again / adversaries join hands, / and peoples seek to meet together. (Preface)
By the working of your power / it comes about, O Lord, / that hatred is overcome by love, revenge gives way to forgiveness, / and discord is changed to mutual respect. (Preface)
[I]n this saving banquet / graciously…endow us with his very Spirit, who takes away everything / that estranges us from one another…. (Petitions)
May [Christ] make your Church a sign of unity / and an instrument of your peace among all people…. (Petitions)
Bring us to share with [those who have gone before us in faith] the unending banquet of unity / in a new heaven and a new earth, / where the fullness of your peace will shine forth / in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Petitions)

The Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs

Sometimes called “Eucharistic Prayer X” or the “Swiss Synod Eucharistic Prayer,” the “Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs” is notable because it represents a single Eucharistic Prayer with four textual formulations. Most of the prayer is invariable, except for the Preface (as one would expect in the Roman Rite) and (a) particular petitionary paragraph(s) inserted after the Epiclesis for the unity of those receiving communion (which is unique to this Prayer). There is some debate about the use of this prayer on the Lord’s Day. Some argue that the Prayer is restricted to use with formularies noted that the beginning of the prayer; others argue that while the prayer is “appropriately” used with these formularies, it is not restricted to them and thus could be used on Lord’s Days when there is no proper Preface assigned. (Thus Eucharistic Prayer X in whichever formulation would be appropriately used on the Lord’s Days of Ordinary Time.)

Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs I

Subtitled “The Church on the Path of Unity,” the first formulation of Eucharistic Prayer X is especially appropriate for use with Mass formularies such as, For the Church, For the Pope, For the Election of a Pope or a Bishop, For a Council or Synod, For Priests, For the Priest Himself, For Ministers of the Church, and For a Spiritual or Pastoral Gathering. The unique petitionary paragraph could be highlighted in an introduction to the prayer by the priest celebrant as declaring the role of the Church in pointing to and embodying the unity of humankind as an alternative to the “throwaway culture” critiqued by the encyclical:

Strengthen the bond of unity / between the faithful and the pastors of your people, / together with N., our Pope, N., our Bishop, / and the whole Order of Bishops, / that in a world torn by strife / your people may shine forth / as a prophetic sign of unity and concord.

Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs II

The second formulation of Eucharistic Prayer X is subtitled “God Guides His Church Along the Way of Salvation” and is especially appropriate for use with Mass formularies such as, For the Church, For Vocations to Holy Orders, For the Laity, For the Family, For Religious, For Vocations to Religious Life, For Charity, For Relatives and Friends, and For Giving Thanks to God. Both the Preface and the unique petitionary paragraph emphasize how the Church is on pilgrimage in history to model joy and trust as necessary components for humanity working together:

[Y]ou never forsake the works of your wisdom, / but by your providence are even now at work in our midst…. Now, as your Church makes her pilgrim journey in the world, / you always accompany her / by the power of the Holy Spirit / and lead her along the paths of time / to the eternal joy of your Kingdom…. (Preface)

[H]aving called us to your table, Lord, / confirm us in unity / so that…as we walk your ways with faith and hope, we may strive to bring joy and trust into the world. (Petition)

Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs III

The third formulation of Eucharistic Prayer X bears the title “Jesus, the Way to the Father,” and is judged especially appropriate for use with Mass formularies such as For the Evangelization of Peoples, For Persecuted Christians, For the Nation or States, For Those in Public Office, For a Governing Assembly, At the Beginning of the Civil Year, and For the Progress of Peoples. The ecclesial focus of the first two formulations gives way here and in the next formulation on Christological and soteriological themes. The priest celebrant might want to highlight the role of Christ and the Church in the plan of God for the destiny of humanity in the light of Laudato Si’s teaching that we are NOT to see “other living beings as mere objects subjected to arbitrary human domination” and that we must “hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

[B]y your Word you created the world / and you govern all things in harmony. / You gave us the same Word made flesh as Mediator, / and he has spoken your words to us / and called us to follow him…. Through your Son / you gather men and women, / whom you have made for the glory of your name, / into one family, / redeemed by the Blood of his Cross / and signed with the seal of the Spirit. (Preface)

Grant that all the faithful of the Church, / looking into the signs of the times by the light of faith, may constantly devote themselves / to the service of the Gospel. / Keep us attentive to the needs of all / that, sharing their grief and pain, / their joy and hope, / we may faithfully bring them the good news of salvation / and go forward with them / along the way of your Kingdom. (Petition)

Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs IV

Subtitled “Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good,” the final formulation of Eucharistic Prayer X challenges those praying the prayer to follow ever more intensely the model of Christ in dealing with the needs of humanity and the world. It is deemed especially appropriate for Mass formularies such as, For Refugees and Exiles, In Time of Famine or For Those Suffering Hunger, For Our Oppressors, For Those Held in Captivity, For Those in Prison, For the Sick, For the Dying, For the Grace of a Happy Death, and In Any Need. The priest celebrant might draw the assembly’s attention to the beauty of these sentiments before he begins the Prayer:

Jesus always showed compassion / for children and for the poor, / for the sick and for sinners, / and he became a neighbor / to the oppressed and the afflicted. / By word and deed he announced to the world / that you are our Father / and that you care for all your sons and daughters. (Preface)
Open our eyes / to the needs of our brothers and sisters; / inspire in us words and actions / to comfort those who labor and are burdened. / Make us serve them truly, / after the example of Christ and at his command. / And may your Church stand as a living witness / to truth and freedom, / to peace and justice, / that all people may be raise up to a new hope.

Fr. Jan Michael Joncas

1. For those who would like more information about the history and characteristics of Roman Rite Eucharistic Prayers, I strongly recommend Enrico Mazza, The Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1986). In addition to the Eucharistic Prayers here considered there are three approved Eucharistic Prayers for Use in Masses with Children
2. Louis Bouyer, Eucharist: The Theology and Spirituality of the Eucharistic Prayer, trans. C. U. Quinn (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968) 448)
3. Mazza, 123-125.
4. Mazza, 157-158.
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Michael Joncas

Best known for popular songs like “On Eagle’s Wings” and “I Have Loved You,” Father Joncas is also a supremely gifted choral composer. For his latest project, he’s writing hymns of the day for every Sunday and holy day of the year.

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