Non Solum: Transitioning from the Eucharistic Prayer to The Lord’s Prayer

A reader writes in:

Am I the only one who finds jarring the all-too-common Sunday morning experience of having a hastily recited Eucharistic Prayer followed an invitation to sing The Lord’s Prayer that in turn almost invariably becomes a funeral dirge?

No reader, you are not the only one. I too resonate with your concerns. In fact, I would add that when Eucharistic Prayer II is used I have come to expect a hastily recited Eucharistic Prayer, followed by an awkward transition to The Lord’s Prayer, and a sudden slowdown in the pace of the Mass at this point in the liturgy.

The transition from the Eucharistic Prayer to The Lord’s Prayer is a weak transition point in the Mass. While there is a natural connection between the Eucharistic Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer, without purposeful presiding this transition can become very abrupt.

The natural connection between the Eucharistic Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer lies in the theological connection between the two. The theological connection between these prayers should make for a smooth transition between these two components of the Mass. In fact, the theological connection is so strong that in some Lutheran traditions The Lord’s Prayer follows the Sanctus and precedes the Words of Institution.

The problem with the transition between these two prayer units stems from the way in which most priests preside at the Eucharist. Most priests make an abrupt transition between these two prayers, thereby breaking the theological connection between them.

In my experience, the best presiders keep a moderate pace in their recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer. This moderate pace is maintained during the introduction to and singing of The Lord’s Prayer. This prevents an abrupt rupture in cadence between the two. The best presiders also appear to slowly lower the host and chalice after the doxology, take a brief pause, and then go directly into the Lord’s Prayer.

What is your experience with the transition from the Eucharistic Prayer to The Lord’s Prayer? How should it be done? How should it not be done?

Please comment below.

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35 comments

  1. I can think of no justification for hastily proclaiming the Eucharistic prayer regardless of which text is chosen. Doing so, in my view, is a dereliction of both vocation and duty. If the EP is to edify the faith of the assembly and to elicit their active offering of the Sacrifice of Praise, then priests must come to believe that they are addressing the triune God. That presumes, of course, a personal relationship that makes intimate prayer possible. As the prayer concludes, the Great Amen should ritually lead them to standing to continue praying as Our Savior taught us. In our parish the deacon and I place the elements back on the altar as the Amen is concluding, and the people stand ready to begin the Lord’s prayer. I often introduce it with the words “With Jesus our brother and Lord standing in our midst let us pray as he taught us. While doing so we observe a custom of more than 40 years in expressing our unity by joining hands. There is no rushing since we are celebrating in Kairos time.

  2. A big no-no for me is singing the Lord’s Prayer. I say this even as an organist and choir master whose natural inclination is to sing everything – hymns, all parts of the mass setting, sursum corda, responses, intercessions response, Marian devotion. Why do I single out the Lord’s Prayer? Because it is the one prayer that many of those who irregularly attend church tend to know, if not by heart then by some vague familiarity of their youth. Singing it cuts people off from this direct participation however beautifully it is sung.

    On the matter of the ‘join’ our pp leaves quite a large gap of silence between the Great Amen before beginning the Our Father. It allows a moment of recollection, even adoration post-consecration before gathering our thoughts back on earth to pray together. A gap is also useful if the Great Amen was a bit feisty – it allows a more prayerful mood to establish itself first.

  3. I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding in Nathan’s post. The Great Amen is the conclusion of a major section of the rite, and the Lord’s Prayer is the beginning of a new one. That being so, there should be a distinct gap between the two, a pause for breath, if you like. Much will depend on how the EP is celebrated, how the assembly is or is not engaged, how the acclamations are sung (or not), etc.

    If the Great Amen is, as it should be, a climactic conclusion to the Prayer, then rushing straight on into the Lord’s Prayer will really not do. If the Great Amen is a damp squib, not preceded by a crescendo-ing doxology, then it won’t make a great deal of difference how the Our Father is prayed.

    It sounds to me as if Nathan is reacting to some bad experiences. A change of pace between the EP and the Lord’s Prayer is precisely what is needed. Apart from them belonging to two different sections of the rite, as already mentioned, the EP is a presider’s prayer while the Lord’s Prayer is for everyone to pray together. Additionally, the nature of the two is different. The EP ends with a doxology of praise while the Lord’s Prayer is intercessory.

    1. @Paul Inwood:
      I think our views are not that far apart…

      I am well aware of the distinction between the Eucharistic Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer. Despite their distinction, there is a profound connection between the two. I agree there should be a pause for breath and there should be a clear ritual transition. I am not saying that we should rush straight into The Lord’s Prayer. I am saying that I have seen many cases where the transition is labored.

      A reasonable change of pace is needed, but it shouldn’t feel like you are at two different liturgies.

      I have seen priests who rush straight into The Lord’s Prayer, and I think this is a problem. I have also seen priests and musicians who do not plan the transition well…the result is that the high festivity of the Amen falls flat and turns into a funeral dirge, as the reader said, during The Lord’s Prayer.

      I am skeptical of neatly dividing liturgical units, and I feel that the liturgy should naturally flow from one ritual part to another.

  4. The “Great Amen” seems to be an American innovation. One could argue that the “Great Amen” itself is not in keeping with the nature of the EP. That it smells of the repetition creep that the liturgical reform was supposed to clean up.

    What is this deep theological connection between the EP and the Lord’s Prayer that needs more connecting? They’re two separate rites of a different nature in a different posture. I think distinction was the whole point. The fact that the Lutherans place it before the the Institution would suggest that the connection to the Eucharist is weak.

    1. @John Mann:

      The “Great Amen” seems to be an American innovation. One could argue that the “Great Amen” itself is not in keeping with the nature of the EP. That it smells of the repetition creep that the liturgical reform was supposed to clean up.

      Not an American innovation, given that the Great Amen was already referred to as such in the days of the preconciliar rite and the term continues to be used across the world, not just in the US.

      The Great Amen is completely in keeping with the EP, being the faithful’s assent, their “Yes, we believe and ratify what has just taken place in the EP”. In fact, as has often been said, it is the most important Amen in the entire Mass.

      It comes as the conclusion to the prayer as a whole, not just to the doxology, followng the Roman tradition whereby all major sections of a rite end with an Amen. Not repetition, then.

      1. @Paul Inwood:

        Paul, the eucharistic prayer does not need assent from the congregation. The anaphora is an objective action (ex opere operato) of the alter Christus, the celebrant, who offers the sacrifice of the Son to the Father. Any notion that an EP needs affirmation by congregation veers dangerously close to the heretical idea that “the assembly consecrates the Eucharist.”

        Similarly, et divina institutione formati reminds us that we are not the progenitors of the Lord’s Prayer. Rather, the prayer is entrusted to us, just as eucharistic prayer is not of our own making but rather from the Lord’s institution.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo:

        Jordan,

        I think it all depends on how you define assent. It’s probably rather important that the assembly adds its affirmation, its “Yes!” — if you like, its liturgical “Yee-hah!” — to what has taken place. And Mass without a congregation present is now seen to have been a mediaeval aberration and is now an exceptional occurrence (Canon 906).

        It’s also worth saying that many liturgical theologians today would agree that the EP is an action of the entire worshipping community, under the leadership of the presiding priest. We had a discussion on this blog some time back about the sometimes contentious phrase “The assembly is the minister of the sacrament”. (I think that may have been in relation to a common posture for presider and assembly during the Prayer.)

      3. @Jordan Zarembo:
        It’s the Holy Spirit who sanctifies.
        The consuming of the elements by the assembly is an affirmation by them of the anaphora in gesture form just as the Great Amen is in word.

        There’s no hint of heresy there, just the logical implication of the recitation of the berakah by the one chosen and the acclamation of a response by the whole assembly.

  5. If there’s a problem in this regard, it probably comes from using a conversational tone and speed (aided and abetted by amplification) in offering the EP.

  6. I will admit that praeceptis salutaribus moniti […] is a bit odd, given that is more of an admonition than an invitation to the Lord’s Prayer. Yes, the Lord’s Prayer is given to us by divine establishment ( et divina institutione formati), but so also is the Eucharist.

    The statement that the Lord’s Prayer, like the Eucharist, is a divine command is a sufficient transition between the two actions. I am wary of paraphrases of the traditional admonition, such as “Let us pray as our Father taught us”. These options do not capture the meaning of moniti (moneo [2], “to inform or warn”). I understand that some priests might be afraid that the traditional prayer “fences in the communion”, but the gravity of the divine genesis of the Lord’s Prayer is an important concept which should not be taken lightly.

  7. Is this transition actually a problem? We go from largely listening on our knees to standing and speaking aloud. There is no way that this will be seamless and seems designed not to be.

  8. Fritz Bauerchmidt has probably asked the most pertinent question so far. But other commentator have their focus elsewhere, forgetting the witness of tradition. It might have helped had someone noted that already in the time of Justin, see his First Apology, The Great Amen seems to have become a significant feature in the Eucharistic Liturgy, and the Our Father seems to be a slightly later innovation, as witnessed to in the Baptismal Homilies of Cyril of Jerusalem; Gregory the Great is frequently credited with placing it in its current position. Robert Taft interprets this placing as coming from increasing respect and awe being paid by the faithful to the Eucharist from the 4th century.
    Both the Great Amen and the Our Father as we now know them are the products both of sound theology and the evident pastoral/spiritual needs of the faithful. That we lost the Great Amen and are now recovering it should be a cause for thanks, even given some celebrants and congregations don’t get it, or get it right.
    The rhythm of the liturgy would seem to warrant at least a reasonable pause between the The Great Amen and the Our Father, particulary if they are both sang. In Japan it is not uncommon to sing both even at weekday masses. The worry at creating too big a gap or distinction at this point, which Nathan Chase avers to, shouldn’t be as big a cause for concern as when everything is rushed. I’d presume to suggest that the focus of the celebrant should be in drawing the assembled faithful into deeper prayer and reverence as they prepare to receive the Eucharist.

  9. Jordan Zarembo : @Paul Inwood: Paul, the eucharistic prayer does not need assent from the congregation. The anaphora is an objective action (ex opere operato) of the alter Christus, the celebrant, who offers the sacrifice of the Son to the Father. Any notion that an EP needs affirmation by congregation veers dangerously close to the heretical idea that “the assembly consecrates the Eucharist.” Similarly, et divina institutione formati reminds us that we are not the progenitors of the Lord’s Prayer. Rather, the prayer is entrusted to us, just as eucharistic prayer is not of our own making but rather from the Lord’s institution.

    GIRM, No. 79 h. (the translation on the Vatican Website)
    Final doxology: By which the glorification of God is expressed and which is confirmed and concluded by the people’s acclamation, Amen.

    1. @Rob Stoltz:

      Yes Rob, what you have written is true. And yet, GIRM 79h does not affirm the notion that the assembly, along with the presider, consecrate the eucharist together. The affirmation of the Amen at the end of the per ipsum is passive, so far as the laity are merely saying a ‘yes’ of additional praise to an ex opere operato and metaphysically objective sacrifice of the Father to the Son through the alter Christus. This has already happened by the time of the per ipsum regardless of the assent or affective disposition of the laity. The Mass would still be quite valid if the priest alone pronounced the Amen.

      Case in point: Mass said without a server, though an abuse, is nevertheless a vaild celebration of Mass. In this latter case, the per ipsum is affirmed by the priest alone. He is the only one who must affirm the concluding doxology with ‘Amen’, as he is the only person present. A dismissal of the validity of a Mass without a server suggests that the celebration of Mass must involve the assent of laity. This is not true given the clear validity of the most basic form of sacramental necessity.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo:
        I think terming Mass without anyone else present an ‘abuse’ (I never liked that word applied to liturgical matters) is a bit much, considering that if anything, the current legislation is even more permissive** than it was historically towards such a practice. I would certainly never advocate the practice outside some extraordinary circumstance,and certainly do not consider it ideal…. but I think ‘abuse’ is rather strong

        **[I would dispute Paul Inwood’s “extraordinary” circumstance interpretation, as much as I would wish that. “Extraordinary” would seem more appropriate under the old Code, which required a “grave” reason to celebrate without someone else present. The canon has clearly been changed to “just” – and a number of canonists will assert that “just” allows a large number of other reasons, not all of which are “extraordinary”. From a liturgical point of view, “extraordinary” may certainly apt and desireable, but I don’t think it’s useto describe the existing canonical legislation is justified]

      2. @Joshua Vas:

        Just so that we’re clear, the Code’s phraseology is not merely “just” but “just and reasonable cause”. The question of what is reasonable is left open. Presumably “because I feel like it” wouldn’t be, but I agree that this seems like a dilution of the previous “grave” reason.

        BTW, I didn’t say “extraordinary”, I said “exceptional”.

      3. @Paul Inwood:

        Whoops, my bad. However, I would think that ‘exceptional’ goes too far as an interpretation, and I don’t think the addition of “reasonable” to “just” takes anything away from my position.

      4. @Joshua Vas:

        You are right to say Joshua that the private Mass without a server is not ideal, but certainly not an abuse. I should not have used the term ‘abuse’. Some priests must say Mass alone at times so that they fulfill the precept of saying one Mass every day. I have been told by multiple priests that fulfilling this precept is important to their spiritual well-being. I do, when possible and necessary, offer to serve.

  10. This is certainly a complex issue, but it has to encompass the concepts in CCC 1136-1144 like:

    “It is the whole community, the Body of Christ united with its Head, that celebrates.”

    I believe it is Christ who sacrifices, Christ who consecrates, not the alter Christus that is the priest. The priest, acting in the person of Christ the head, enables the whole community to celebrate. That community includes all who have ever celebrated as well as those present at a particular service.

    Within that context, Jordan’s questions take on a different form. Talk of the priest accomplishing something apart from the gathered community is inappropriate, though the action depends more on the priest than on the community. The actions are done to unite the people with Christ, to make them part of his body, because it is Christ alone who consecrates. Priest and people are equally superfluous, and equally necessary to fulfill Christ’s ministry.

    1. @Jim McKay:

      In defining dogma, pope/council and the people of God at large are not opposed to one another, because the pope/council speaks with Christ’s authority on behalf of/as head of/i.e., as an integrated, organic part of the Church. But it would be heresy (after Pastor aeternus) to claim that the consent of the Church is just as essential to the dogmatic definition as is the definition of the Roman Pontiff. In a similar way, although ultimately priest and people are united at Mass in the same sacrificial act of Christ the High Priest, it would be false to assert that sacerdos and laicus are united in so similar a manner as to be equally necessary.

  11. Jordan Zarembo : @Rob Stoltz: Yes Rob, what you have written is true. And yet, GIRM 79h does not affirm the notion that the assembly, along with the presider, consecrate the eucharist together. The affirmation of the Amen at the end of the per ipsum is passive, so far as the laity are merely saying a ‘yes’ of additional praise to an ex opere operato and metaphysically objective sacrifice of the Father to the Son through the alter Christus. This has already happened by the time of the per ipsum regardless of the assent or affective disposition of the laity. The Mass would still be quite valid if the priest alone pronounced the Amen. Case in point: Mass said without a server, though an abuse, is nevertheless a vaild celebration of Mass. In this latter case, the per ipsum is affirmed by the priest alone. He is the only one who must affirm the concluding doxology with ‘Amen’, as he is the only person present. A dismissal of the validity of a Mass without a server suggests that the celebration of Mass must involve the assent of laity. This is not true given the clear validity of the most basic form of sacramental necessity.

    Please cite where in the Catechism of the Catholic Church your remarkable position is supported.

  12. Paul Inwood : @Joshua Vas: Just so that we’re clear, the Code’s phraseology is not merely “just” but “just and reasonable cause”. The question of what is reasonable is left open. Presumably “because I feel like it” wouldn’t be, but I agree that this seems like a dilution of the previous “grave” reason.

    The shift from “grave” to “just” cause certainly is a dilution. In my introduction to canon law we were taught that a just cause is a pretty low threshold – more or less, any good reason. Granted, Fr. Chamberlain struck me as tending toward laxity rather than rigor, but this characterization did seem to ring true.

  13. Paul – it is reassuring to read that you are NOT heretical. To borrow from Jim, this is complex but would suggest a few comments:
    – to base your position upon the CCC is really not a very good idea….CCC is merely a paraphrase and concise manner of trying to state nuanced and complex faith statements….it is a mystery
    – Jordan, your over-reaction suggests that you continue to hold onto the *alter christus* concept which VII did not use. Rather, it restored the concept of servant leadership; the baptism of all; and that the minister from the community acts in the *person of Christ*.
    https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/Article/TabId/535/ArtMID/13567/ArticleID/16690/Priesthood-Revisited.aspx
    – the quotes from canon law, unfortunately, lower the discussion to the lowest common denominator. Yes, private masses are technically possible but strongly discouraged (that doesn’t mean that eucharist will not happen; it means that this is a very poor way to do eucharist; it is an exception; etc. following the same thinking as ex opera operato – a sinful and corrupt priest doesn’t mean that eucharist doesn’t happen – eucharist is more than the priest minister’s stance in grace – it is a communal action. Your suggested technical reasoning has the tail wagging the dog.

    Would suggest that, if anything, it is both/and. From the catechism:
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a3.htm
    Long document and it appears that only two statements (1369 and 1411) reference the priest. Yes, this does mean that our issues today about lack of priests and therefore lack of eucharist impacts the church – but, would suggest that VII starts with the baptized community celebrating eucharist before eventually explaining the role of a presider.

  14. Bill and Rob: I have a stronger explanation for my argument which I am in the process of completing. As a preliminary statement, I should note that Fr. William Clark, in his OSV article, never denies the unique role of the priest in the sacrifice. In my argument I will show that the Church has never denied the central truth of the role of the priest in the Holy Sacrifice. Regardless of from where a priest is called, and regardless of the presence of Christ in the baptized assembly, Mass cannot take place without the ministerial priesthood. Christ is foremost present in the Holy Communion, with grace given by Christ through the action of the priest’s offering.

    The canons of Trent, the Catechism, and even canon law cannot be dismissed in any logical argument. The Tridentine canons have never been abrogated, and the modern Catechism clearly builds upon these canons. Canon law regulates action, and so then provides an indirect proof of the distinct and primary vocation of the clergy in the Mass.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo:
      Do you think that the concept of ministerial priesthood expounded in the sources from the last millennium which you cite, applies to the celebrations of the eucharist of the early Christian centuries, such as those referred to in the Pauline corpus and elsewhere in the NT, when the community assembled in the house of someone wealthy enough to host the gathering and who presided at the blessing of the bread and cup?

      1. @Gerard Flynn:

        Gerald, I do not adhere to the patristic/late antique ressourcement theory of post/modern liturgical development. Rather, I adhere to a cumulative historical understanding of liturgy and liturgical theology. The development of doctrine and liturgy together, when permitted to grow organically and without academic interference, follows a path of advancing abstraction and complexity. Late antique or patristic ressourcement abruptly terminates organic development by supplying a romanticized imagined narrative of the “early Church” (whatever that is, per where the goalposts are set.)

        A romanticization of the pre-institutionalized Church is counterproductive. Paul, deutero-Paul, and the pastoral epistles describe nascent Christianity as a series of communities struggling with distinctive socio-cultural roles in the context of worship. It’s rather naive to paint early Christian communities as anarchical or socially uniform. The social division of paterfamilias/οἰκόνομος vis a vis household structure certainly must have influenced the celebration and participation in the Eucharist. These social divisions, however, do not necessarily indicate the status of the celebrant. All we know is the social universe of this period as gleaned quite often from non-Christian texts. These texts do not elucidate well social divisions in very early Christian worship. To rely on scripture alone for liturgical information is a reductio ad absurdum given the intellectual turbulence of period writings, inscriptions, and various papyri bits.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo:
        If that is a ‘No.’ I agree. To hold such a position is to identify the intrinsic weakness of retrojecting liturgical/theological concepts and models of the High and Late Middle Ages and Early Modern periods on to the early centuries.

  15. Jordan – sorry, suggest that your theology of eucharist is confused, at best.
    Suggested above to cut through the complexity and just adopt an approach that is *both/and*. Vatican II restored and reformed starting with the understanding that the first sacrament is Jesus Christ; now dwelling in the sacrament of the Church. The key communal celebration of the life of the Church is Eucharist – all baptized are invited, called, and participate in eucharist….in eucharist Christ is present in word, body/blood, and the community present. (sorry, don’t think you will find gradations that say Christ is *foremost present in Holy Communion nor can you silo parts of the eucharist and say that Christ is more present in body/blood and less present in the Word or community.)
    VII also dropped *alter Christus* restoring the older concept of the community’s designated minister acting in the presence of Christ – thus, priesthood is defined as a servant ministry. If we are not careful in our understanding, we can veer to one extreme and overly emphasize an *ordained priesthood* as separate; higher, and essential for the eucharist and thus, you wind up with two separate traditions – an ordained priesthood that starts with Peter (and constructs some type of imaginary linkage between Peter and every bishop and priest ever ordained) and this tradition comes first; is primary; and the *first sacrament of the church – eucharist* is dependent upon this tradition. Sorry, this gets us into the thinking that priesthood is the higher, most necessary, and first sacrament – it harkens back to clericalism; priests are above and more holy; it smacks of a special ordained male group that controls the Eucharistic grace of Christ, without priests there would be no church.
    Think about those simple statements – sorry, the church and eucharist come well before any understanding or development of a called, ordained servant ministry. Fr. Komonchack used to remind us that 98% if all catholics are not priests and the church is more than just the ordained. VII started with baptism of all – then the offices, ministries, etc. Even Congar refused to use *laity* because he wanted to emphasize the common baptism of all at the core of our community and our eucharist.

    1. @Bill deHaas:

      Perhaps it would be better to have a dialogue. I will not give a gigantic-post/argument of my findings. The eds. would likely frown on this approach.

      I reject the innovations you propose because the assembly/presider model is not precisely confessed by the Church through its magisterium. Rather this model is the product of academic theology. Please correct me if the presider/assembly model is magisterial and apostolic. Eastern Christians, and especially Eastern Christians in union with Rome, do not to my knowledge champion this Roman pseudomagisterial innovation. Roman sacramental theology is intrinsically united with entire apostolic Church. Apostolicity necessarily demands theological concord. In apostolicity, theological concepts are logically bidirectional.

      Bill, you write that “VII also dropped *alter Christus* restoring the older concept of the community’s designated minister acting in the presence of Christ – thus, priesthood is defined as a servant ministry.” Please cite both the Tridentine and conciliar statements which support this assertion. One need not read Presbyterorum ordinis for long before encountering this passage:

      Caput 1.2 […] Dominus, inter fideles, ut in unum coalescerent corpus, in quo ‘omnia membra non eundem actum habent’ (Romans 12:4) quosdam instituit ministros, qui, in societate fidelium, sacra Ordinis potestate pollerent Sacrificium offerendi et peccata remittendi […]

      et ideo,

      […] quorum [ie. episcopos] munus ministerii, subordinato gradu, Presbyteris traditum est, ut in Ordine presbyteratus constituti, ad rite explendam missionem apostolicam a Christo concreditam […] [my additions, emphases]

      ———-
      “The Lord, among the faithful, so that they unify into one body, in which ‘all members do not have the same role [actum]” (Romans 12:4) “instituted certain ministers who, in the community of the faithful, conduct [pollerent] the rites in the facility of Orders for the purpose of offering the sacrifice and the remission of sins.” [my additions, italics]

      But also consider,

      “Of which” [the bishops] “the office of service is handed over to priests in a subordinate grade, that the presbyterate, established in Holy Orders, rightly for the purpose of completing the apostolic mission entrusted to Christ.” [my additions, emphasis]

      Taken together, these passages affirm that the “election” (in a communal sense, not an existential or soteriological sense) from the church community is only one of the two criteria of Orders. Also important is the apostolicity of the priesthood. This apostolicity, as manifestly explained in scholasticism, the canons of Trent, the Catechism, and magisterial documents, affirms a priest’s essential role in the unbloody sacrifice. These passages, when taken together, do not appear to affirm the presider/assembly model, if one considers both the presider and assembly to be at parity sacramentally. PO is but one small part of a larger possible refutation of the presider/assembly model.

  16. Jordan – sorry, suggest that your theology of eucharist is confused, at best.
    Suggested above to cut through the complexity and just adopt an approach that is *both/and*. Vatican II restored and reformed starting with the understanding that the first sacrament is Jesus Christ; now dwelling in the sacrament of the Church. The key communal celebration of the life of the Church is Eucharist – all baptized are invited, called, and participate in eucharist….in eucharist Christ is present in word, body/blood, and the community present. (sorry, don’t think you will find gradations that say Christ is *foremost present in Holy Communion nor can you silo parts of the eucharist and say that Christ is more present in body/blood and less present in the Word or community.)
    VII also dropped *alter Christus* restoring the older concept of the community’s designated minister acting in the presence of Christ – thus, priesthood is defined as a servant ministry. If we are not careful in our understanding, we can veer to one extreme and overly emphasize an *ordained priesthood* as separate; higher, and essential for the eucharist and thus, you wind up with two separate traditions – an ordained priesthood that starts with Peter (and constructs some type of imaginary linkage between Peter and every bishop and priest ever ordained) and this tradition comes first; is primary; and the *first sacrament of the church – eucharist* is dependent upon this tradition. Sorry, this gets us into the thinking that priesthood is the higher, most necessary, and first sacrament – it harkens back to clericalism; priests are above and more holy; it smacks of a special ordained male group that controls the Eucharistic grace of Christ, without priests there would be no church.
    Think about those simple statements – sorry, the church and eucharist come well before any understanding or development of a called, ordained servant ministry. Fr. Komonchack used to remind us that 98% if all catholics are not priests and the church is more than the…

  17. Aaron Sanders : @Jim McKay: In defining dogma, pope/council and the people of God at large are not opposed to one another, because the pope/council speaks with Christ’s authority on behalf of/as head of/i.e., as an integrated, organic part of the Church. But it would be heresy (after Pastor aeternus) to claim that the consent of the Church is just as essential to the dogmatic definition as is the definition of the Roman Pontiff. In a similar way, although ultimately priest and people are united at Mass in the same sacrificial act of Christ the High Priest, it would be false to assert that sacerdos and laicus are united in so similar a manner as to be equally necessary.

    Please cite the Catechism of the Catholic Church to support your thesis.

  18. Jordan Zarembo : Bill and Rob: I have a stronger explanation for my argument which I am in the process of completing. As a preliminary statement, I should note that Fr. William Clark, in his OSV article, never denies the unique role of the priest in the sacrifice. In my argument I will show that the Church has never denied the central truth of the role of the priest in the Holy Sacrifice. Regardless of from where a priest is called, and regardless of the presence of Christ in the baptized assembly, Mass cannot take place without the ministerial priesthood. Christ is foremost present in the Holy Communion, with grace given by Christ through the action of the priest’s offering. The canons of Trent, the Catechism, and even canon law cannot be dismissed in any logical argument. The Tridentine canons have never been abrogated, and the modern Catechism clearly builds upon these canons. Canon law regulates action, and so then provides an indirect proof of the distinct and primary vocation of the clergy in the Mass.

    And the Catechism of the Catholic Church often cites Trent. But you just make unsupported arguments.

    1. @Rob Stoltz:

      Please consider the following response (I was interrupted by Bill’s questions.)

      I will provide you a proof derived from the proceedings of Trent, the new Catechism, and also canon law [1983 CIC].

      First, Council of Trent (sessio XXII, “Doctrina de sacrificio Missae”, Caput II). My trans.

      huius [cf. et quoniam in divino hoc sacrificio, para 1] quippe oblatione placatus Dominus gratiam et donum poenitentiae concedens crimina et peccata etiam ingentia dimittit. Una enim eadem [quae] est hostia idem nunc offerens sacerdotum ministerio qui se ipsum tunc in cruce obtulit sola ratione diversa. [my bold, italics, correction in brackets]

      “Of these undoubtedly the Lord, having been placated by the oblation, granting grace and the gift of penance, has furthermore remitted grevious stains and sins. Infact the same [one], that is the same victim, now offered by the minister, the priest, who himself [se ipsum] now offers on the cross for one unique reason.” [my additions, italics]

      The priest is the minister of the sacrifice of the Mass. He is not merely an equal presider or presider of unknown quantity in Christ’s actions in the assembly and the Word (cf. CCC 1088 and the hierarchy of Christ’s presence in the Mass), but certainly empowered by holy orders to offer the unbloody sacrifice as alter Christus. This is justified by CCC 1367:

      “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: ‘The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross (cf. again Trent XXII caput II); only the manner of offering is different.’ ‘And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.’ ” [my bold]

      And so then, if both Trent and the Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaim a priest as the minister of this unbloody and propitiatory sacrifice, then 1983 CIC clarifies this more fully. Two canons are especially important:

      Can.  900 §1. “The minister who is able to confect the sacrament of the Eucharist in the person of Christ is a validly ordained priest alone.”

      Can.  906 “Except for a just and reasonable cause, a priest is not to celebrate the eucharistic sacrifice without the participation of at least some member of the faithful.”

      As Joshua Vas notes, the injuncture of Canon 906 is perhaps not an abuse but a just necessity in some cases. Perhaps a priest is traveling alone and wishes to say his daily Mass. It is salutary to the charism of priests to say a Mass every day, even if no one else is present. Besides, the church militant benefits from the strengthening grace from each Mass, even if one does not attend that Mass. Private Mass without a server is not ideal, but possible since the minister of the eucharist, the priest, is self-sufficient to offer the unbloody sacrifice.

      If the priest is self-sufficient to offer this sacrifice, Christ is presence in his ministerial action. The assembly is not strictly necessary for Christ to be present. For this reason the notion of “presider” is annulled by the reality that a priest can say a valid and licit Mass alone, and pronounce the entire Mass including per ipsum himself. Therefore, the laity do participate in the presence of Christ, but are not strictly necessary for his presence.

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