Redemptionis Sacramentum 51-56

Under the subheading, “The Eucharistic Prayer,” these six sections deal with post-conciliar problems with the proclamation of this prayer. Naturally, as the locus for the consecration of the bread and wine, it shouldn’t be surprising that it gets a significant attention from the CDWDS.

[51.] Only those Eucharistic Prayers are to be used which are found in the Roman Missal or are legitimately approved by the Apostolic See, and according to the manner and the terms set forth by it. “It is not to be tolerated that some Priests take upon themselves the right to compose their own Eucharistic Prayers” [Inaestimabile donum 5] or to change the same texts approved by the Church, or to introduce others composed by private individuals.[Cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia 28; GIRM 147; Liturgicae instaurationes 4; Inaestimabile donum 4]

When I was first exposed to the various experimental prayers when in college, I thought them a mixed bag. A few were truly good, as literary pieces. Some were cringeworthy to the extreme. Most extended the dialogue of the priest and people throughout, an experiment with mixed success, I would say.

The impulse to do better than the approved prayers probably speaks to the drawbacks in the texts of these anaphorae as well as the method by which clergy are trained (or, alas, not) to proclaim them.

The theology of the Eucharist is important enough to guard zealously. While I think the era of widespread experimental prayers has mostly passed, I’m sure that a few high profile priests were continuing well into this century, hence RS 51.

[52.] The proclamation of the Eucharistic Prayer, which by its very nature is the climax of the whole celebration, is proper to the Priest by virtue of his Ordination. It is therefore an abuse to proffer it in such a way that some parts of the Eucharistic Prayer are recited by a Deacon, a lay minister, or by an individual member of the faithful, or by all members of the faithful together. The Eucharistic Prayer, then, is to be recited by the Priest alone in full.[GIRM 32]

I think the CDWDS is not speaking of the parts of the prayer that do indeed belong to the laity. My sense is that the dialogue EP’s had nearly totally disappeared by the end of the 70′s. The progressive thrust would be that the people shouldn’t be following along with noses in a missal.

[53.] While the Priest proclaims the Eucharistic Prayer “there should be no other prayers or singing, and the organ or other musical instruments should be silent”,[GIRM 147; cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia 28; cf. also Inaestimabile donum 4] except for the people’s acclamations that have been duly approved, as described below.

Unfortunately, I do think that some clergy might benefit from accompanied musical settings, if they were to venture to sing the Eucharistic Prayer. RS 53 effectively closes the door on any sort of transition. Or well-composed settings. On the whole, this one is a loss for the Church.

[54.] The people, however, are always involved actively and never merely passively: for they “silently join themselves with the Priest in faith, as well as in their interventions during the course of the Eucharistic Prayer as prescribed, namely in the responses in the Preface dialogue, the Sanctus, the acclamation after the consecration and the “Amen” after the final doxology, and in other acclamations approved by the Conference of Bishops with the recognitio of the Holy See”.[Ecclesia de Eucharistia 39]

This is a good affirmation. What is needed is more formation of clergy to assist this in happening.

[55.] In some places there has existed an abuse by which the Priest breaks the host at the time of the consecration in the Holy Mass. This abuse is contrary to the tradition of the Church. It is reprobated and is to be corrected with haste.

No play-acting–addressing an issue progressive liturgists find annoying. Thanks for this one, CDWDS.

[56.] The mention of the name of the Supreme Pontiff and the diocesan Bishop in the Eucharistic Prayer is not to be omitted, since this is a most ancient tradition to be maintained, and a manifestation of ecclesial communion. For “the coming together of the eucharistic community is at the same time a joining in union with its own Bishop and with the Roman Pontiff”.

I’m not aware this has ever been an issue–the omission of the pope and diocesan bishop. Occasionally, I see a priest unsure of the bishop of the place in which he is presiding. Such errors need to be recognized as such.

Redemptionis Sacramentum is unfortunately a document detailing abuses. What the Church is in need of, possibly even more in need of, is a document or other means of encouraging the artful and effective praying of a long narrative. When lawful, positive options exist, the weak unlawful ones may tend to fade away on their own.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Redemptionis Sacramentum 51-56

  1. Liam says:

    “The progressive thrust would be that the people shouldn’t be following along with noses in a missal.”

    Not so clearly as it was 25 years ago; now, more progressives having a growing understanding of the differing capacities of the members of the faithful with regard to aural vs visual in this regard. I think the “noses in a missal” meme has not only worn out its usefulness, but will tend to mark one as arguing as less in good faith than trying to score a cheap rhetorical trump. Can we please retire it from our side?

    As for RS53, I thoroughly welcome anything that prevents a, instrumental/choral soundtrack for this part of the Mass. Providing incipit pitches is traditional, customary and not what is targeted here. (If there were a way to legislate sotto voce, non-percussive/articulated, severely plain accompaniment that could not be readily heard outside the sanctuary, I’d be open to it, but I see too many tractors that would want to drive through that loophole…)

  2. FrMichael says:

    We were told in seminary by an ancient professor that among certain San Francisco priests back in the day, the name of the Episcopalian Bishop of California James Pike (whose sede is at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco) was inserted in the Eucharistic Prayer in place of the SF Archbishop McGucken. This was done as a protest against McGucken’s perceived bumbling conservatism. Meanwhile Pike was the very personification of ’60s progressive theology– very sad ending.
    In any case, it wouldn’t be in the books if it didn’t happen somewhere…

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