Thomas Reese has an article in the National Catholic Reporter that reports on discussions at the North American Academy of Liturgy meeting of a draft of a eucharistic prayer by Jesuit Father Robert Daly. Reese’s article reports some of the critiques that were offered (such as the oddity of addressing the preface first to the Father, then to the Son, and then to the Spirit, rather than following the near-universal tradition of addressing the Eucharistic prayer to the Father) and I think we might come up with a number of others (such as the absence of any mention of the resurrection of Christ in the anamnetic section of the prayer or the vagueness of what the Spirit is being asked to do in the epiclesis with regard to the eucharistic action, or the oddness of the doxology, which seems not only to never getting around to praising God—the doxa part of a doxology—but also seems to treat the trinitarian names as three among a number of other equally significant metaphors for God).

But a more general question might be whether we want eucharistic prayers that are so thoroughly invested in a particular scientific worldview that they are likely to sound outdated before too long. Of course, some might object that our current prayers are no less wedded to particular (premodern) world views. But it seems to me that our current prayers on the whole use language that is only problematic if you are particularly persnicketty about saying things like “heaven is up” or “the sun rises and sets.” Daly’s prayer, on the other hand, seems far more wedded to its particular worldview (for example, its valorization of chaos). Maybe this is not a problem, particularly if we think of liturgical prayer’s primary purpose as expressing who we are now, how we see things now, what is meaningful to us now, and that it can and should be revised or replaced every few years as world-views change. I think that purpose of of liturgical prayer is self-expressive, but prayer is also a means of conveying tradition, of giving a sense of stability and rootedness, of being confronted with something that might at first seem slightly alien (such as angels carrying our offering up to heaven), things that are undercut if our prayers are too much prayers-of-the-moment.

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