by Fr. Alan Griffiths
The current translation of the Canon seems to have kept closer than did its predecessor to the forms, syntax and general rhythm of the ancient text. A possibly unforeseen effect of this is that the long and complex sentences require some effort on the part of the speaker. A point sometimes made is that it is not easy to hear and understand them.
Having heard from colleagues that for reasons such as this they no longer speak this prayer at Mass, I thought it might be an interesting exercise to attempt a version that would both be close to the Latin and allow a less demanding articulation. Feedback thus far suggests to me at least that a future revision of the English Missal may have to address these issues.
What follows is just one attempt. I have worked at it on and off for some years, and although I have not used it at Mass, I have often spoken it out loud with gestures to get the feel of it. I’m sure it’s far from perfect, but at least the sentences are a bit shorter.
I’ve deliberately not taken up a position on ‘chalice’ v. ‘cup’ or ‘for all’ v ‘for many.’ I think that in respect of the issues I outline above, these are a distraction.
I would be interested to get reactions to this, and I have my hard hat handy.
EUCHARISTIC PRAYER 1
To you, most merciful Father, with reverence we pray through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord. Through him we ask you to accept and bless these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices.
These we offer to you first for your holy Catholic Church. In your goodness grant her peace; guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world. We offer them in union with your servant N. our pope and N. our bishop, with all who worship you in truth and serve the Catholic and apostolic faith.
Remember, Lord, your servants (especially NN.), and all gathered here, whose faith and devotion are known to you. For them we offer, as they also offer you, this sacrifice of praise for themselves and those dear to them, to obtain the redemption of their souls, to have hope for their health and security. This is their prayer to you, the eternal God, living and faithful.
… We venerate the memory of those whose fellowship we share: especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ our God and Lord, blessed Joseph her husband, the blessed apostles and martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, James and John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude: Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian and all your saints. Through their merits and prayers grant us always the defense of your protecting help. (Through Christ our Lord, Amen.)
Nativity of the Lord and Octave
We celebrate the most sacred night (day) when blessed Mary the immaculate Virgin brought forth the Saviour for this world, and we venerate …
Epiphany of the Lord
We celebrate the most sacred day on which your Only-Begotten Son who is eternal with you in your glory, appeared in a human body, truly sharing our flesh, and we venerate …
Easter Vigil and Octave
We celebrate the most sacred night (day) of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh, and we venerate …
Ascension of the Lord
We celebrate the most sacred day on which your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord, placed at the right hand of your glory our frail human nature which he had united to himself, and we venerate …
We celebrate the most sacred day of Pentecost, on which the Holy Spirit appeared to the apostles in tongues of fire, and we venerate …
This, then, Lord, is the offering of our service and that of your whole household. In your kindness accept it, we pray. Order our days in your peace, bid us be freed from eternal condemnation and counted among the flock of those you have chosen. (Through Christ our Lord, Amen).
Easter and Octave
This, then, Lord, is the offering of our service and that of your whole household. In your kindness accept it, we pray. We offer it to you also for those to whom you have graciously given the new birth of water and the Holy Spirit, granting them forgiveness of all their sins. Order our days in your peace, bid us be freed from eternal condemnation and counted among the flock of those you have chosen. (Through Christ our Lord, Amen).
Bless this offering, we pray, O God. Approve it and in every way confirm it. Make it spiritual and acceptable, so that for us it may become the body and blood of your dearly-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the day before he was to suffer, he took bread in his holy and honorable hands, and raising his eyes to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, he blessed it with a prayer of thanksgiving, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take this, all of you and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you.’
Likewise when supper was ended he took this glorious chalice in his holy and honorable hands; again he blessed it with a prayer of thanksgiving and gave the chalice to his disciples, saying, ‘Take this, all of you and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.’
The mystery of faith …
And so, Lord God, we your ministers and your holy people celebrate the memorial of Christ your Son our Lord. We hold in memory his blessed passion, his resurrection from the dead and his glorious ascension into heaven. And from your gifts bestowed on us we offer to your glory and majesty the pure victim, the holy victim, the perfect victim: the holy bread of eternal life and the chalice of everlasting salvation.
In your goodness, look upon these things with a peaceful and kindly regard. Accept them as you graciously accepted the gifts of your righteous servant Abel, the sacrifice of our patriarch Abraham and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice and spotless victim.
With deep reverence we ask you, almighty God: command that these gifts be carried by the hands of your holy angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty. And for all who will receive the most holy body and blood of your Son in this communion at the altar, let them be filled with all the blessings and gifts of heaven. (Through Christ our Lord, Amen.)
Remember also, Lord, your servants (NN) who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace. To these, Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, we ask you to give a place of repose and light and peace. (Through Christ our Lord, Amen.)
As for us, your ministers, sinners who hope in your abundant mercy, grant us of your goodness a share in the fellowship of your holy apostles and martyrs: with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia and all your saints. We beg you, admit us into their company, not considering what we deserve but granting us your forgiveness. Through Christ our Lord,
For through Christ you continue to create all these good thinks, O Lord. You make them holy and fill them with life, you bless them and bestow them on us.
Through Christ and with Christ and in Christ, O God almighty Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, for ever and ever. Amen.
Fr. Alan Griffiths is a priest of Portsmouth Diocese, UK.