A Spectrum of Prayers

At PrayTell, Fr Alan Griffiths tries to put the best face on Liturgiam Authenticam with a translation of Eucharistic Prayer I. It’s an earnest attempt, and honest. But the retrenchment movement has made me a skeptic. And I think that LA/MR3 will help to sink the Roman Canon for good. That’s not necessarily something to celebrate. And I could be wrong–I’ve heard it quite a bit in central Iowa the past two years.

Within the bounds of theoretical possibility, I observe the following spectrum of practices or hopes:

  • Roman Canon, nearly silent
  • Roman Canon in Latin
  • Roman Canon only, MR3
  • approved Eucharistic Prayers, MR3
  • approved Eucharistic Prayers, MR1
  • approved Eucharistic Prayers, MR2 or maybe MR4
  • vernacular compositions approved by Rome
  • vernacular compositions approved by national conferences
  • experimental local prayers
  • improvised on the spot

Some Catholics would accept 1-2. Obviously, the current trend is 2-4. My own wish would be 6-7, and perhaps 8. I have no desire to return to 5.

10 was once a near-universal practice, and a requirement for being a bishop–the ability to adapt the pattern of the anaphora. (What? Surely you don’t think Jesus composed the Roman Canon in Latin, do you?) And 9? Spare us.

I’d really like to see people compose Eucharistic Prayers in vernacular languages, then share them across linguistic traditions. Some might work, some might not. But it would be an exercise in unity (as opposed to uniformity) and would spark the artistic imagination across the world. A very catholic thing, if you will.

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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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One Response to A Spectrum of Prayers

  1. Liam says:

    Consider the prevalence of talent for preaching among clergy.

    Is the prevalence of talent for improvisational prayer among clergy likely to be *higher*?

    That’s probably why the Church did away with improvisational prayer, and made preaching optional for so many centuries….

    Frankly, given my extensive experience with beholding clerical improvisation, I am very pleased to see it strongly contained. So, I’d fight at the barricades against the last two options in parochial communities. (I can’t bother fighting in conventual religious communities of which I am not a member.)

    All that said, this puts the cart well before the horse. (Again, as so often happens.) We don’t have a process for having the PIPs evaluate – and provide feedback (a whole other process) – on compositions. Until we have that, this is all just variations on top-down imposition. (It’s no less top-down when it’s the pastor and his staff doing it; if anything, in practice that’s even *harder* to resist from below than imposition from afar – the preference for a distant tyrant over a nearby tyrant being a deep truism of social behavior.)

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