GIRM 364-365: Choice of Eucharistic Prayers

One area of liturgical planning is still in the hands of the clergy. Choose well:

364. The numerous Prefaces with which the Roman Missal is endowed have as their purpose to bring out more fully the motives for thanksgiving within the Eucharistic Prayer and to set out more clearly the different facets of the mystery of salvation.

Did you know there are “norms” for choosing these prayers? Choose well …

365. The choice between the Eucharistic Prayers found in the Order of Mass is suitably guided by the following norms:

a) Eucharistic Prayer I, or the Roman Canon, which may always be used, is especially suited for use on days to which a proper text for the Communicantes (In communion with those whose memory we venerate) is assigned or in Masses endowed with a proper form of the Hanc igitur (Therefore, Lord, we pray) 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.

I’ve heard the fussing in some internet quarters about the use of this prayer, or more accurately, its lack of use. I can’t say I’ve ever found that to be true. But of course my sample size is small and skewed toward pastors who hire liturgists to oversee good liturgy. I’ve heard it frequently on ordinary Sundays.

b) 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. When Mass is celebrated for a particular deceased person, the special formula given may be used at the proper point, namely, before the part Remember also our brothers and sisters.

c) Eucharistic Prayer III may be said with any Preface. Its use should be preferred on Sundays and festive days. If, however, this Eucharistic Prayer is used in Masses for the Dead, the special formula for a deceased person may be used, to be included at the proper place, namely after the words: in your compassion, O merciful Father, gather to yourself all your children scattered throughout the world.

d) 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. On account of its structure, no special formula for a deceased person may be inserted into this prayer.

In relation to III, IV is definitely underused. Much less than I. Ordinary Sundays seem a good landing place for IV. What do you think?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to GIRM 364-365: Choice of Eucharistic Prayers

  1. Karl says:

    Agreed. Before The Recent Changes:

    In the Boston area, EP III was the dominant prayer on Sundays. EP II tended to be used in ritual Masses (such as baptism or RCIA rituals) or on days when un-air-conditioned churches were too warm/close for comfort. EP I tended to be used on major feasts, but sometimes randomly through the year. EP IV less so (though sometimes during seasons when it shouldn’t have been – where there was a proper preface), though it was much more common in prior communities I was part of.

    After The Recent Changes: EP II is by far the most common, with EP III now started to show up. I’ve heard EP I only twice (each time by a much more progressively-oriented priest than any of the more traditionally-oriented ones, who seem more concerned about avoiding any risk of stumbling). I’ve heard EP Reconciliation I once, IIRC; I’ve yet to hear EP IV.

    I love EP IV, and would like to hear it more frequently during Ordinary Time. I generally like EP I during Advent/Xmastide-Lent/Eastertide, and of course whenever there is a proper insert to it – which, btw, includes Nuptial Masses, and the importance of that is neglected.

    I’ve long felt I would not be upset to see EP II more restricted in use (for example, in situations of grave need where time is pressing, such as in times of mortal danger), though I do think the translation changes have actually improved it noticeably (pace the addled complaints about “dewfall”), and I am reconsidering my lack of affection for EP II….

    It’s been a few years since I’ve heard the other approved EPs (Various Needs, IIRC); during the Jubilee 2000, there were 2 special EPs approved that I never got to hear used, which was a shame, because they were quite lovely.

  2. FrMichael says:

    II and III seem to be the used most often. With so many foreign-born priests serving in Northern California, the guys seem to prefer praying the two simpler prayers. I am the only priest I know you uses the full repetoire on any sort of consistent basis.

    The norms are helpful.

    Liam, never heard of the two additional EPs. Are they still available for use?

    • Karl says:

      The authorization for use was for the Jubilee year, so I don’t think so. Maybe they will be revived or re-tooled in 2025 (the next ordinary jubilee) and 2033 (which will be a major extraordinary jubilee, on a par with 2000, I expect).

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