The Roman Canon and Performatism

Ms. Audrey Seah’s recent article on performatism (“Performatism or Theological Aesthetics of the Liturgy?”, PTB, 6 January 2013) certainly raises the possibility for the analysis of an almost infinite spectrum of performances in liturgy. One of the core performances in the Roman liturgy is the celebrant/presider’s recitation or chanting of the anaphora. I have noticed over the years that a performative angle has sharply divided Catholics over the question of the anaphora in the reformed Mass liturgy. Not infrequently, performative frames isolate certain eucharistic prayers as suitable for certain occasions, or not suitable for any occasion.

Frequent PTB readers might have noticed that I have a very strong intellectual and spiritual devotion to the Roman Canon. At one point in my spiritual and religious development, I considered the Roman Canon to be the only “orthodox” eucharistic prayer. The CDWDS (7 January 2000) has rejected this position as erroneous. Nevertheless, I suspect that I am not the only traditionally or conservatively minded Catholic who has harbored a degree of antipathy towards the three “new” eucharistic prayers introduced in 1968 or the eucharistic prayers added to the reformed missal since 1970. Indeed, an unyielding or even daresay fundamentalist insistence that only the Roman Canon is the only “worthy” eucharistic prayer is a performative frame fiercely protected by some (including myself, even now to some degree) but also quite fragile in light of more recent liturgical and theological developments.

I pose this question: in what way do liturgically progressive (for want of a better term) brothers and sisters understand the role of the Roman Canon within the Pauline liturgy? Why has the celebration of this anaphora declined significantly after the introduction of alternative eucharistic prayers? Lastly, does the complex and ancient Latin of the Roman Canon hinder both an understandable vernacular interpretation and subsequently hinder an assembly’s role in the eucharistic prayer? Put simply, I ask that PTB readers construct and deconstruct an alternate frame for eucharistic prayer performance.


  1. Answering the questions, in order:

    1. The Roman Canon is one of a group from which you can select, each equally valid.

    2. The simplest answer is clearly the right one: Its use has declined because it is the longest of them all.I remember the excitement of priests during my altar boy days in the 1960s when EPII and III came out because of their relative brevity (as you could no longer mumble EPI in express-train speed in a foreign language to the back wall)

    3. As one who believes strongly in the concept of “noble simplicity”, I’d say that the newly complex syntax of the revised English EPI strongly offends the concept, and demands a rewrite, immediately.

  2. The Roman Canon is, indeed, very beautiful. Though I am certainly not a Latin scholar, I understand the language enough to appreciate its depth. I had no serious reservations about using its English translation (prior to RM3) and used it frequently.
    I am dismayed by its translation in the current Roman Missal. It is a difficult prayer to understand by hearing alone, and even then its understanding requires a deliberateness, phrasing and timing to a degree found more appropriately in dramatic presentations. There should be, I believe, a certain “effortlessness” to prayer, a kind of ‘ease’ in confidently yet reverently addressing Abba. Like, as CS Lewis once described as wearing shoes or slippers that are so comfortable you don’t even notice them. Sadly, I think the current Roman Canon calls attention more to its unitelligibility than to the mystery its proclaims and effects.

  3. The decline in use of the Roman Canon at Mass has been almost total in our diocese since the introduction of the new translation. I’ve heard it perhaps twice in the last year. There is no doubt in my mind that it is avoided by priests because the translation is turgid and ungraceful to the ear, long and difficult to render.

    There’s not much we can do about the length of the Canon – it is what it is, but how we translate is another matter completely.

    In contrast to the new translation, can I remind Pray Tell readers of the excellent little book, The Roman Canon in English Translation that ICEL (pre Vox Clara) published in 1967 about the whys and wherefores of the previous translation? The book formed the basis of a three part discussion here on Pray Tell contrasting the 1973 and 2010 translations.

    Quite apart from highlighting the literary and prayerful qualities of the old translation, I like the book very much because it shows how open and transparent the Vatican II ICEL translation effort was (and should be… looking at you, CDWDS…), and how liturgical translation shouldn’t be merely a word for word substitution excercise. I also like the book because it helps give the lie to the oft-repeated ROTR meme that the 1973 translation was rushed, unscholarly and not what the bishops who had actually been at Vatican II wanted.

    Here’s the book.
    Here’s the Pray Tell discussion: part I, part II, part III.

  4. But one more question, and then I will let the combox ferment for a day or two.

    Is it possible to interpret or translate the Roman Canon into vernacular languages given the literary, semantic, and syntactic complexity of late liturgical Latin? Should the Canon be left untranslated and the other eucharistic prayers prayed at fully vernacular celebrations of Mass?

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #4:
      Jordan, yes, the canon should very definitely be translated, but translated well so that it “sings”, otherwise it’ll moulder even more.

      Latin has long since ceased as a means by which “everyperson” can pray. Not to translate the canon into vernacular denies it its audience, denies them its riches and dooms it to obscurity in the shadows.

      If Latin is so precious and cryptic that it can’t or shouldn’t be translated, then I suggest we have a great opportunity to develop a truly enculturated vernacular Mass, free of the unhelpful encumberances of Latin thought and style.

      1. I fully agree with Karl, Mark, and Paul that the Roman Canon (in Latin or translation) has fallen out of use because of its length and also a preference for liturgical minimalism. Liturgical minimalism is by no means solely an American phenomenon. A decade ago I visited Bordeaux. On entering a church I found that a missalette listed EP II in the ordinary of the Mass and relegated the three other main EP’s to a small type appendix. I was demoralized, needless to say.

        @Graham Wilson – comment #5:

        Graham: Latin has long since ceased as a means by which “everyperson” can pray. Not to translate the canon into vernacular denies it its audience, denies them its riches and dooms it to obscurity in the shadows.

        I respect your position Graham, even though I do not believe that vernacularization provides the only means for persons to appreciate Latin prayer. The meaning of Latin prayer can also be explained through catechesis, even if that is not truly practical for most parishes.

        I also would like to find a way to translate the Roman Canon in a way that balances sound English composition with a fairly close concordance between the Latin and English. Neither a paraphrase of the Roman Canon (1967) or an extremely literal translation of the same anaphora (2010) have, in my opinion, satisfied the metrics of sound composition or an accurate rendering of the Latin meaning. If the circle of an ancient anaphora can’t be squared, perhaps the prayer should be left alone.

        In light of Ms. Seah’s essay, I would interpret my above position as “performatist” because of the presumption that the Canon cannot be satisfactorily translated into English. Perhaps the bright line between ROTR performatism and progressive liturgy resides in the ROTR’s acceptance of untranslated prayer in the liturgical corpus. Is the reformed liturgical project at all capable of incorporating prayer which cannot or will not be translated?

        If the answer is negative, then I doubt that the ROTR and liturgical progressivist frames could ever be aligned because of the often purposeful opacity of ROTR liturgy. The notion of opacity returns to Graham’s initial assertion but in opposition: in the ROTR, the use of Latin prayer, regardless of assembly comprehension, uplifts liturgy. The ROTR frame permits and perhaps even celebrates a certain level of liturgical opacity.

  5. We use EP1, the Roman Canon, in Latin (Novus Ordo) for “big” Masses, often concelebrated ones. It occasionally gets used at the Sunday Latin Mass, but the priests use EP2 more often, simply because of the pressure of time.

    Many of us who love the Roman Canon have been dismayed by the current translation, where it seems to have suffered more than the other 3 Eucharistic Prayers.

    I agree with Graham that we desperately need a good, clear, proclaimable translation of the Roman Canon into contemporary rather than Elizabethan English. This really should not be that difficult to do.

  6. I am happy for the options in the Eucharistic Prayers and like them all which includes the four additional ones for various needs and the two reconciliation ones. I personally like all the revised English ones but especially the Roman Canon. As I celebrate both forms of the one Roman Rite, there is indeed a beauty in the Latin Roman Canon and it’s additional rituals or rubrics, i.e. additional signs of the cross. The first few times I prayed the revised English Roman Canon, I almost automatically made those additional signs of the Cross even though I was praying it in English–it was clear to me that the signs of cross could easily be adapted to the English text.
    Perhaps it should be made clear that the Roman Canon should be prayed at a parish’s principle Mass or at least during the Octave celebrations of Christmas and Easter and pray God that an octave returns for Pentecost. Perhaps it should be required for solemnities and feasts. But apart from that it should be the discretion of the priest.
    If the EF were celebrated more often in more parishes as a Missa Cantata, that would take care of effectively preserving Latin for the Mass in general and the Roman Canon in particular as well as Gregorian Chant and Polyphony.
    But the Ordinary Form’s high recommendation that the Eucharistic Prayer be chanted or at least a goodly part of it in addition to the Preface dialogue and Preface itself, is a wonderful development that needs much, much more encouragement and modeling.

  7. At St. Nicholas in Evanston, IL, I worked with the priests to make sure that we used the Roman Canon beginning on the last Sunday of October (when we celebrate the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church, which for St. Nicholas is October 28), for All Saints and All Souls Days, and then on the Sundays of November through Christ the King. When the revised translation came out, the priests no longer wanted to use the Roman Canon. So at present, we are no longer using the Roman Canon.

  8. Although I for the most part prefer the translation of the canon attributed to Coverdale, I do appreciate the dynamism of the translation beginning with the words, We come to you, Father, in this spirit…in any event it does surpass the Thee Therfore of Myles.

  9. Before the translation revision, the major reason for the relative underuse of EP1 (and EP4) was length. Remember, the two major guiding principles of liturgical praxis in the US church before Vatican were liturgical legal magicalism (focusing on compliance with the form) and liturgical legal minimalism (doing the least amount necessary to comply). The attraction of EP1 for some traditionalists can be voiced in terms of the first; the sense that EP1 (especially in Latin) is more certain to be the real Sacrifice of the Mass. (And it has its mirror image in certain progressives who personalised the EPs without authority, but kept the words of institution.) In my neck of the woods, pre-translation revision, EP3 was the most common for Sundays, with EP1 being used on major solemnities and any occasion where there was a special commemoration included (except most priests missed the salience of this feature at nuptial Masses…); EP2 was mostly used on weekdays, on summer Sundays (so many old churches without AC that are furnace-like in the summer) and Masses where baptisms or other rituals are included. EP4 was the most neglected, sadly (though it has a fixed preface, so it’s more suitable for OT, it’s a beautiful prayer); I’d hear the EPs for Reconciliation more than EP4; rarely if ever did I hear a EP for Various Needs on a Sunday, and I *never* heard one of the beautiful EPs that were created for the 2000 Jubilee (about which almost nobody knew….)

    Post-translation revision, EP2 has become nearly universal, with occasional ventures to EP3; I’ve only heard progressive priests attempt EP1 (my sense has been the more conservative priests have been wary of the stumble potential in revised EP1). I’ve not yet heard EP4; I have heard each of the EPs for Reconciliation at least once, and once I’ve heard one of the EPs for Various Needs.

    I have absolutely no regard for the idea of offering the vernacular liturgy with a Latin Canon on a regular basis; it smacks too strongly of a magical view of Latin for me, except by the broad and deep consensus of that community, not merely the choice of the priest or his liturgy committee. It’s not like the Canon was largely experienced as sacred prosody; it was, for the most of its history, inaudible AND unread by most people. (Again, the issue of anachronistic projection of our current imaginings onto a different past reality.) Even more importantly, it was most often only followed by the sacramental participation of the celebrant without the faithful. (Again, I think considering the EPs on their own without strong connection to actual sacramental praxis is to reify the EPs inappropriately.)

    1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #10:

      Thank you Karl for your comments. Your comments have helped me understand in part understand why many consider it inappropriate for a priest-celebrant to choose to say the Roman Canon, especially in Latin, because of his judgment alone.

      Ms. Seah’s article also offers an appropriate framework for a greater understanding of liturgical miscommunication between “traditionalists” and “progressives” (again, inaccurate terms, with regret.) While traditionalists often elevate the ordained ministry of the chancel above the common priesthood of the nave, progressives understand that an assembly encompasses clerical ministers and laity together, albeit with different priesthoods. The latter is theologically without question, even for the traditionalists who would rather stress sacerdotal prerogative over the priesthood of the baptized. With regard to ministerial versus baptismal priesthood, the traditional performative framework is asynchronous; the progressive synchronous.

      Even so, I also struggle with the notion that the assembly must give assent to the prayers of Mass, even if doing so is not consonant with the devotion of the celebrant. A priest friend of mine derives great personal spiritual benefit from reciting the Canon. Although he has since left diocesan ministry for a licit traditional order, before Summorum Pontificum he would not infrequently say ordinary form private Mass* with the Latin Canon. Should not priests, even occasionally, say Mass for their spiritual benefit and not necessarily for any congregation save the sabaoth and the corporate Church? The notion of “assembly assent”, if taken to the extreme position of absolute requirement, reduces priests to servants entirely dependent on the whim of the congregation without consideration of his affective and spiritual participation in Mass.

      Simply put, the choice to recite the Canon despite congregational affirmation is licit, but quite disruptive of the notion of ecclesia. Are there any points where the traditional and progressive frameworks intersect to allow for multiple positions?

      * I respect that some Catholics dislike the term “private Mass”. I only use the term because it is a shorter phrase than “Mass without a congregation”.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #11:
        I am less worried about the priest’s affective and spiritual desiderata when he has privileges such as bination (even trination) that accommodate his personal needs expressly. Congregations are much more often stuck with the whims of priests, and their only option is to leave.

        I should add I don’t view this as an issue of assembly assent – I suspect that image comes from Jungmann’s description of the thunderous Amens of the congregations of Late Antiquity – but more connecting to sign values and sacramental participation. We’ve still not fully grasped how distorted the Roman Rite got when sacramental participation thereafter became more notional than actual, and the further development of ritual practice focused on other things, eventually settling into legal formalism and minimalism.

        I should add I don’t eschew the Roman Canon. Where I a priest, I would likely make a regular practice of offering all the forms of the EPs, so that congregations can make informed discernment over time over the varied attractions of all of them: I would be curious what the Spirit might say through their discernment (which is not to say that everything they would say would necessarily entirely of the Spirit). I have the same sense about all the rubrical options in the Mass: I believe they are a providential opportunity for discernment over the future shape of the liturgy, so long as they are all used well and regularly, with curious conversation, over time. To me, this is how organic development can be nurtured. Mind you, I operate primarily from a perspective of hope, not fear or expectation (as they say in recovery circles, expectations are premeditated resentments. And I would add that resentments are not of God; the way you can distinguish hope from expectation is the resentment factor.)

    2. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #10:
      Slightly off topic, but I’ll add this.

      We’re a downtown urban parish, with many poor and homeless people worshipping with us, along with the very well off. As a result, we find ourselves using Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs and Occasions #4 very very very often. There’s a good chance that if there’s a gospel pericope, with a healing story, then we us that prayer. In both the old and the new translations, along with the 3rd prayer for Various Needs and Occasions, reflects so closely Vatican II’s teachings in Gaudium et Spes. I’m shocked more presiders don’t use it!

  10. Since the new translation came into useI have used it three times. Two were at midnight and morning Mass of Christmas.

    After the first time, earlier in the year, even with preparation beforehand it left me knowing I needed much more practice to get it right as prayer. I experienced it as the saying of words in the order in which they are given.

    I attempted again at midnight Mass, sung, and I experienced it as beautiful.

    I said it on Christmas morning and found it ungaily because of the reduplications, which is not natural to a second language speaker of English in South Africa.

    My personal feeling as a result – and please know there is some levity involved – it is divine opera and bad prose.

  11. Re: Post #1.

    “The simplest answer is clearly the right one: Its use has declined because it is the longest of them all.”

    Right on. We are creatures of rapidly diminishing attention spans and “disposable time”. Priests and lay folk alike.

    Wow….theological implications…

    1. @Mark Emery – comment #15:
      Except that this really isn’t new. American Catholics were notorious for wanting Mass to be done with the minimum dispatch lawful and valid. It’s not for nothing that Catholic culture was rife with questions about how little of Mass one could attend and still fulfill one’s preceptual obligation: a product of a culture that traded corporate worship for law. And remember the silent Canon could be murmured on the intake as well as outflow of breath. All that changed was that the advent of options for EPs allowed a balancing out of what got extended in other parts of the Mass. In sum, liturgical furniture moving around.

  12. The Roman Canon, as a part of the vernacular liturgy of the 5th century, provides a model for vernacular liturgy of the 21st. It’s degradation into hocus pocus is a cautionary tale warning against incomprehensible liturgy.

    Why has the celebration of this anaphora declined significantly after the introduction of alternative eucharistic prayers?

    Why wouldn’t it? What do bad translations of the Roman Canon have that recommends them over the intentionally constructed

    Put simply, I ask that PTB readers construct and deconstruct an alternate frame for eucharistic prayer performance.

    This is one of the most complex ways of putting this question. Alternate to what? The Canon can be performed in many ways, in many “frames” as previous responses have shown. What frame do you think accompanies the Roman Canon?

  13. Karl, good points, but, assuming that pressure for a shorter Mass, or for a shorter time of participation in a longer Mass is at least in part responsible for a drift away from use of the Roman Canon, what are the deeper implications of this?

    1. @Mark Emery – comment #18:
      An example of continuity, rather than the rupture the Council intended, and showing the limits of the hermeneutic of continuity as the measure of all good things.

  14. Karl, I guess I’m confused. Which part of my question represents an example of continuity? Pressure for a shorter Mass? The decline in the use of the Roman Canon? Both?

  15. I think it’s clear that Karl is reiterating his #16. Before the Council, people attending Mass were looking for a “quickie”, and post-Vatican II that still continues !

    Minimalism remains one of the liturgical sins that many continue to commit. The “What’s the least we can get away with?” mentality is a close cousin, incidentally, of the STBDTR mentality.

  16. I am not sure it has anything to do with translation, but Vatican 2 rejects opacity in liturgy. Pastors have a “duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.” SC 11

    This does not mean that there will never be apacity, only that it should not be sought intentionally.

  17. Just wondering, does liturgical minimalism reflect an innate creaturely distraction from genuine liturgical encounter with the holy? And if so, does that distraction occur in longer, more traditionalist liturgies? and if so, how? That was one of the things I was thinking about. Wasn’t it Abbot Poeman who said that distraction is the root of all evil?

    1. @Mark Emery – comment #27:
      I don’t believe that is *necessarily* so. I used to, until a spiritual director pointed out to me how contemplative I was in being open to the invitations of “distractions”, and how often I encountered God in them. So, I guess that begs the question of what a “distraction” in and whether a priori definitions create an unhelpfully recursive loop.

  18. Karl, thank you for your reply, and I think I understand where you’re coming from…but I was asking the questions in terms of human beings in general and Catholics-in-general more specifically. Of distractedness as a symptom of underlying spiritual malaise, and how this might actually be embodied in lutrgical practices of different kinds. Audrey’s essay got me to thinking about it, but it’s something I’ve been interested in for a while.

  19. Isn’t liturgical maximalism more likely to “reflect an innate creaturely distraction from genuine liturgical encounter with the holy”? That seems to be at least the Trappist view, if not everyone’s.

  20. For me EP1, even in the old translation, is a problematic prayer. The disconnection of the institution narrative from any wider account of divine goodness and salvation history encourages the wrong kind of understanding of real presence.

    1. @Philip Endean Sj – comment #31:
      Recounting all of salvation history wasn’t the “Western way”; EP IV, which does recount salvation history, is an Eastern-inspired branch grafted onto the Western limbs of the Church. In the West, we focus on a single element of salvation history, usually in the Preface (although the Canon has inserts for particular days).

      As for “divine goodness”, it looks like the “modern” version of the Canon (from the days of Gregory I) couches the institution narrative within the context of: 1) God’s providential care for and guidance of the Church [Te igitur], 2) God’s favor/grace for the Church’s members [Memento Domine], 3) God’s protection of His flock and His desire for our salvation [Hanc igitur], and 4) our desire to honor God with true spiritual worship [Quam oblationem]. Perhaps things were arranged differently before Gregory’s time, although Ambrose doesn’t paint too different a picture.

      I’d appreciate it if the “Qui pridie” was translated as a continuation of what precedes it, as it appears in, e.g. the Apostolic Tradition. “Let this be for us the body and blood of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who on the day,” etc.

      P.S. Not to sound flip, but perhaps you are “applying a frame” [divine goodness and salvation history] to the Roman Canon, a frame into which it was not originally intended to be bound? The Canon does not fit the mold of the post-Vatican II EPs, but that’s because it predates the mold.

      1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #32:
        I don’t mind pleading guilty as charged as far as the historical point is concerned. But the ‘Eastern’ structure (which I would see in all the other approved EPs, not just EP4–they are all praising God and recounting what God does, even, albeit briefly, EP2) seems to me theologically sound. EP1 all too easily encourages a magical understanding of eucharistic change, and is couched in the idiom of the Roman empire in its decadence.

      2. @Philip Endean Sj – comment #33:
        By “Eastern structure”, are you referring then to the Post-sanctus, also called the “Vere Sanctus” because it reaffirms the holiness of God announced in the Sanctus, often by the words “indeed Holy” (“vere sanctus”)?

        EP II: You are indeed Holy, O Lord,
        EP III: You are indeed Holy, O Lord…
        EP IV: We give you praise, Father most holy…
        EPR I: You are indeed Holy, O Lord…
        EPR II: (n/a)
        EPVN: You are indeed Holy and to be glorified…

        The Canon puts the remembrance and recounting of God’s deeds in the Preface. It could very well be that the “Te igitur” of the Canon predates the inclusion of the Sanctus in Rome.

      3. @Philip Endean Sj – comment #33:

        Philip: [EP1] is couched in the idiom of the Roman empire in its decadence. [my addition in brackets]

        Carrying a picture of Chairman Mao might not qualify as decadence. This action is perhaps ignorant and naive, but maybe not decadent. Should May 1968 get a pass, but not the late western Roman Empire and the early medieval period?

      4. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #32:

        Jeffrey: I’d appreciate it if the “Qui pridie” was translated as a continuation of what precedes it, as it appears in, e.g. the Apostolic Tradition. “Let this be for us the body and blood of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who on the day,” etc.

        The qui of qui pridie refers to dilectissimi Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi in the preceding prayer. There is no way to join the quam oblationem and qui pridie without harming Latin syntax and semantics. A conjunction of these two prayers might obscure the qui and create a syntactical issue.

        Also, no Latin sentence can start with an adverb such as pridie. Any translation of the Canon which attempts to ignore the pronoun qui also seriously disrupts the meaning of the Latin.

        The “disjointed” nature of the Roman Canon is a strength, not a weakness. The Canon need not satisfy any academic and preconceived notions of an “ideal eucharistic prayer”. The Canon’s durability demonstrates that an “imperfect” eucharistic prayer nevertheless amply communicates the theology of the Holy Sacrifice even without elements certain scholars consider essential for eucharistic prayer. The modern eucharistic prayers are engineered according to an idea that each prayer should include an epiclesis, each prayer should recount salvation history, etc. The Roman Canon epitomizes liturgical organicity versus liturgical engineering as it was not composed in a sitting but rather drawn together over the span of several centuries. The notion that several people in a short period of time could write pseudo-organic eucharistic prayers ignores the possibility that a eucharistic prayer develops not unlike a living organism.

      5. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #35:
        The qui of qui pridie refers to dilectissimi Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi in the preceding prayer. There is no way to join the quam oblationem and qui pridie without harming Latin syntax and semantics. … Any translation of the Canon which attempts to ignore the pronoun qui also seriously disrupts the meaning of the Latin.

        I’m not sure we understand each other. I’m not recommending ignoring the “qui”, but translating it as “who”:

        “… ut nobis Corpus et Sanguis fiat dilectissimi Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, qui, pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem …”

        This matches with Ambrose’s version of the Canon:

        “… the figure of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who the day before he suffered took bread in his holy hands …”

        My research indicates that this is a particularly Roman tradition:

        As distinct from most other liturgical traditions, the institution narrative in the Roman Canon is placed within the intercessory part of the prayer, beginning with the conjunctive pronoun Qui, showing that recalling the Supper is linked to the petition for acceptance and transformation of the gifts. (Commentary on the Order of Mass, 269)

        In the Latin, the entire description of what Jesus did at the Last Supper is a relative clause appended to [the Quam Oblationem]. (In Memory of Me, 88)

        The first thing to strike us is that the institution narrative is not an independent phrase, but it starts with a relative pronoun: qui pridie. This “qui” connects the entire narrative to the preceding section of the prayer, “let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord.” … By no means is it merely an interpolated narrative, nor is it a case of an authoritative self-standing text that actually interrupts the prayer. (Pope Benedict, Holy Thursday homily)

        We see this also in EP II and the EP for Various Needs.

      6. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #37:

        Jeffrey: My research indicates that this is a particularly Roman tradition

        Your citations illustrate your point well. Yes, it makes sense to consider quam oblationem and qui pridie as one prayer. However, what then should be done about simili modo? Shouldn’t the consecration of the bread and the consecration of the wine be considered a unit? A conjunction of quam oblationem and qui pridie excludes simili modo for syntactic reasons. I find it strange that an epiclesis prayer would explicitly apply only to the consecration of the bread and not to a consecration of the wine.

        One of the outstanding issues with regard to a reconsideration of this portion of the Canon is the framing of the consecration. Many, perhaps most Catholics, consider the double consecration to be a single unit of action. There is no corresponding prayer similar to quam oblationem for simili modo. If there were, then epiclesis and verba could be joined into one large block of eucharistic action.

  21. Do you guys have any idea how precious your exchange sounds? The two of you are Latinists and so you seem to be vigorously enjoying the discussion. From my point of view as a priest making choices about which EP to proclaim at a particular Mass, the points you are making are not helpful. If anything, they raise the question once again of why church authorities insist that the only way we can ensure that we are praying what we actually believe is to visit the Latin roots of the prayer. Our understanding of liturgical theology is far more advanced today than it was when the Roman Canon was first conceived. Why can’t we simply look at the various English translations of the Roman Canon and assess from those what would appear to be the best way to express what the church believes? I realize that such a discussion would have no immediate bearing on the official text in the RM, but it might shed more light on our understanding.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #40:
      Fr. Jack, we’re discussing (or so I think) the integrity of the Roman Canon. Perhaps you think the word “Therefore” at the beginning of the anamnesis part of each Eucharistic Prayer is precious too, but it’s an important theological word (which wasn’t rendered in the older ICEL translation). I think words like “therefore” and “who” are important because they serve to establish integrity, flow, connectedness, etc., to the Eucharistic Prayer.

    2. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #40:
      I realize that such a discussion would have no immediate bearing on the official text in the RM, but it might shed more light on our understanding.

      First we would need to discuss if our understanding makes a difference. Jordan seems to be saying it does not. “Opacity” and “organic development” are euphemisms for incomprehensible. Taken to its extreme, this means no translation is possible if translation is to transfer meanings.

      The discussion with Jeffrey exemplifies this. Jeffrey is looking for meaning, while Jordan cares about the end product of development apart from meaning.

  22. I prefer a sung Canon to a spoken Canon; as long as it is sung I don’t have any preferences.

    However if the Canon is spoken, I prefer EP2 and EP3 since I can sing them mentally.

    I would not go to an EF Mass because of the silent Canon.

    However if a sung EF had a sung Canon I would go. I might even prefer it to a spoken OF Canon.

    These are my preferences, not necessarily what I think particular communities ought to do, e.g. Latin is fine for me, I am not sure it is good for people who do not understand it.

  23. I am a big fan of the RM2 EP1. It was often part of my private prayer and I was able to recite it from memory. The advent of the more “faithful” RM3 EP1 has rendered itself useless to me. Stilted syntax, outdated language, poor grammar… defend the translation all you want, but it is painful. It’s been used in my parish 3 times (Holy Thursday and twice at Christmas, each time by a different priest) Each are happy not to use it again, and I am happy to never hear it again. While I used to get bored hearing EP2 all the time, I am now content to hear it regularly.

    EP1 from RM2 was pure poetry and beauty. It’s a shame that’s not what Rome is into anymore.

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