April 14, 2009

Using Eucharistic Prayer I

In the fifteen years I spent as a Catholic before becoming a priest, I encountered the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) at Mass very, very rarely. For whatever reasons that I don't understand, I guess that there are large parts of the praying catholic world that almost never encounter this prayer. Some anecdotal evidence from my own life illustrates what I'm talking about:

When I was a postulant I went to Mass with one of my classmates on the feast of the Epiphany. The priest prayed the Canon. Having coffee at a diner after Mass, my brother postulant expressed his annoyance and confusion at the priest who had "made up his own prayer." My classmate, a cradle catholic, had never heard Eucharistic Prayer I before!

When I was in theological studies we had to take a course to learn how to offer the Mass. When one of my fellows took his turn practicing the Mass in front of the class, he used Eucharistic Prayer I. The professor, clearly disgusted, scolded him and let us know that the Roman Canon would not be acceptable for the purposes of the course.

So, when I got to be a new priest who wanted to make use of this most Roman Eucharistic Prayer, I faced a problem. Most priests I had known and prayed with would almost never use it, so when should I? I didn't want to make it a case of whim, so I needed a plan.

Here's the plan I have adopted for the use of Eucharistic Prayer I, the Roman Canon. I use Eucharistic Prayer I:

1. On any day for which it provides proper Communicantes and/or Hanc Igitur, excepting nuptial Masses. (Though I would certainly oblige if a bride asked for the Roman Canon.) This amounts to Christmas and Easter and their octaves, Epiphany, Holy Thursday, Ascension, and Pentecost.

2. On the feast of any saint who is named in it, excepting feasts of Our Lady, as she is named in every Eucharistic Prayer.

3. On any feast that has a particularly Roman character, e.g. The Chair of Peter, the dedication of the Lateran, etc.

All together this makes for something like twelve percent of the whole liturgical year.


Sarsfield said...

Is this not typical of the post-conciliar inversion? That is to say the rule,the norm -- Latin, Gregorian chant, the Roman Canon -- becomes the ever vanishing exception. The reason the Roman Canon is Eucharistic Prayer #1, one would logically expect, is because it is supposed to be the norm. Prayers #2,3 and 4 are supposed to be options that may sometimes take the place of #1.

In our parish, a new associate pastor used the Roman Canon at one of his first Masses. The congregation was so unaccustomed to the much longer prayer that they all stood up after the Memorial Acclamation apparently assuming by the mere length of the prayer that well, that kneeling business must be over by now! Same thing happened the following week. The priest hasn't used Eucharistic Prayer #1 since.

Brother Charles said...

Good to meet you, Sarsfield. Your account matches some of my experience! Happy Easter!

Unknown said...

Hi Father. The link is bad. So it is the length of the prayer that people object too?

Brother Charles said...

Here's the fixed link: New edition of English Roman Canon

pennyante said...

Our priest has used Eucharistic Prayer 1 at Easter and during the following Sundays after Easter. And mine is a ethnic, ordinary form parish.

Vox Cantoris said...

Actually, I'm always disappointed when it is not used.

Gregg the Obscure said...

I'm a convert. Have been attending Mass regularly since late 1999. Rarely hear the Roman Canon, but make a point of thanking the priest whenever it's used. In 2010 we traded our old pastor for a new one plus a parochial vicar. The younger fellow used EPI a few times early on, but was apparently told to stop so doing.