Eucharistic Prayer II on Sundays

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal number 364 says “Eucharistic Prayer II, on account of its particular features, is more appropriately used on weekdays or in special circumstances.” However, in my experience it is by far the most popular Eucharist Prayer II and is often used even on Sundays. When I was ministering in the U.S. prior to my return to Ireland in 2013, it is true that many Sunday liturgies used Eucharistic Prayer III and on solemn occasions (Easter, Christmas, etc.) used Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman Canon). But in my U.S. experience it was still quite common to hear Eucharistic Prayer II on a Sunday. Now that I am in Ireland, from anecdotal observance, Eucharistic Prayer II often seems to be the only Eucharistic Prayer used in many parishes. The preface can vary, but be it Sunday, weekday, feastday, funeral Mass or nuptial Mass, Eucharistic Prayer II is the only Eucharistic Prayer that is selected.

Indeed, particularly since the publishing of the 2010 translation of the Roman Missal, many priests seem to have found the translations of the other Eucharistic Prayers, and particularly Eucharistic Prayer I, to be almost unusable. Here I am aware that I am operating in an Irish context, a place where the 2010 translation is perhaps even less accepted than it is in other countries.

Recently I was on a trip to Spain and there I noticed that there is a particular embolism for Eucharistic Prayer II when it is used on Sundays in the Spanish edition of the Missal. When I got home, I checked to see was this in the U.S 2018 edition of the Misal Romano and lo and behold it was there. It is in an appendix, which means that few priests will turn to the appendix during the celebration, but nonetheless this is an approved adaption to Eucharistic Prayer by the U.S. bishops that shows that, on an official level, they now foresee the use of Eucharistic Prayer II on Sundays.

2018 USCCB translation of the Misal Romano My translation
Acuérdate, Señor,

de tu Iglesia Extendida por toda la tierra

y reunida aquí en el domingo,

día en que Cristo ha vencido a la muerte

y nos ha hecho participes de su vida inmortal

Remember, Lord,

your Church present throughout the world

and gathered here on Sunday

the day on which Christ has overcome death

and make us sharers of his immortal life.

I think that this is a nice addition and we should think of extending the possibility of using it to English speakers. While I do like to offer a variety of Eucharistic Prayers, as each one has its particular emphasis and spirituality, we should also acknowledge the success of this prayer and given that it is often used on Sundays, help communities to be able to make even better use of it.

Readers might like to comment on whether this prayer is used in their experience and whether they think that the original GIRM’s suggestion that it not be used on Sundays or the more recent Spanish tradition (recently adopted by the USCCB) that the prayer is in fact suitable for use in a regular Sunday celebration.

 

36 comments

  1. II and III with retired clergy. Occasionally I by the most “liberal” of our padre cadre. Reconciliation I & II during Lent. I have heard SNO here and there. IV never, alas, as it used to be my favorite. Honestly, I don’t think it makes much difference to anyone outside of liturgy geeks. The language is more distant and poor grammar erupts from the Norman French-derived vocabulary, so why not use II on Sundays?

  2. The French, Italian and Polish Missals (in their present forms) all have inserts for the Eucharistic Prayers for Sundays, even for EP I. It’s something worth exploring for the future, even for the typical edition of the Missal, I imagine.

    1. The Roman Rite does not mark out Sunday particularly as the day of resurrection. The Office of Readings allows for an extended vigil with a reading from the Resurrection Gospels but otherwise, it is missing from the official texts. I like the idea of inserts for Sunday to correct this imbalance.

    1. And considering how much time is “saved”, it’s more of an assumption than a reality on the ground. Other common practices more concretely add time to the liturgy without much ritual content, such as refrain-based Glorias or the time it takes to get communion ministers ready to minister time in typical practice. (Not to mention ex temporaneous homilies….) (If the argument is more or less that no one pays attention to the content then we’ve got a more fundamental problem, and using EP II is not its solution.)

      I miss EP IV during Ordinary Time, and would witness its return. I’ve heard the VN&O ones more than EP IV in the last decade. I’d recommend EP I any time there’s a special commemoration (including for Nuptial Masses), and EP III for regular Sunday use, and generally would not recommend use of EP II on Sundays.

      1. I once timed a refrain-based Gloria vs. it’s being sung straight through. The refrain-based version took an additional 47 seconds.

  3. The German Missal also has an insert for Sundays in Eucharistic Prayer II:
    “Darum kommen wir vor dein Angesicht
    und feiern in Gemeinschaft mit der ganzen Kirche
    den ersten Tag der Woche als den Tag,
    an dem Christus von den Toten erstanden ist.
    Durch ihn, den du zu deiner Rechten erhöht hast,
    bitten wir dich:
    Sende deinen Geist auf diese Gaben herab …”

    loosely translated as:
    “Therefore, we come before your face
    and celebrate in communion with the whole church
    the first day of the week as the day
    in which Christ rose from the dead.
    Through him whom you have raised on your right hand
    we ask you:
    Send your spirit upon these gifts ….”

  4. Although I do not worship regularly in the Roman Rite, the Latin Rite diocese where I reside makes regular use of EP II & III, with periodic showings of the Roman Canon and EPs of reconciliation. The EP IV and VN&O make rare appearances.

    I confess when I discovered that EP II was developed like an undergraduate essay the night before its due date and that it bares little resemblance to its historic inspiration, I have a bad taste in my mouth whenever this prayer is recited.

    I wouldn’t mind if EP II went to the dust bin of history (along with EPIV, a lovely prayer, but immovable preface is out of place in the Roman Rite). EP III probably takes an extra 30 seconds to recited compared to EP II and is much richer in content and should be the standard fixture of Sundays.

    1. I confess when I discovered that EP II was developed like an undergraduate essay the night before its due date and that it bares little resemblance to its historic inspiration, I have a bad taste in my mouth whenever this prayer is recited.

      This is a complete myth, Devin. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet!

      I wouldn’t mind if EP II went to the dust bin of history (along with EPIV, a lovely prayer, but immovable preface is out of place in the Roman Rite).

      EP IV is no more out of place in the Roman Rite than any other. It’s preface is not immovable, but may not be replaced by another.

      1. Well, the second part of that internet myth (derived from Louis Bouyer) is certainly a reasonable assessment.

        A comparison with the Anaphora in the so-called ‘Apostolic Tradition’ of ‘Hippolytus’ will reveal that EP2 bears little relation to Hippolytus, except for the ‘preface’ which in any event exists independently as Common Preface 6.

        This anaphora was in fashion in the 1960’s when it was thought to be a very ancient Roman anaphora, and this might have been the justification for its working into EP2. This view has been seriously, and in my judgment successfully, questioned by Paul Bradshaw and other scholars.

        The question of the origin(s) of the ‘Apostolic Tradition’ document as a whole is also much debated, but the consensus is, as I understand it, that (a) it is not anything to do with an individual called Hippolytus, and (b) it is not a single document but a collection, and (c) most of it is not third century CE but probably later, and (d) the anaphora at least is not Roman.

        I am a frequent visitor to Italy, and I have never heard any other canon used on Sundays there, though always with the embolism.

        I would agree that EP3 is much more satisfying, at least to myself as a celebrant, and if no-one else in church notices the difference, well so be it. I am talking to God, not to the congregation!

        I use EP4 on many sundays when the liturgical colour is green. I love it, and the gender specific language can easily be amended by using the device that ICEL recommended back in the early 2000’s.

        AG.

      2. Fr. Bouyer’s memoirs are contained in a book. So it is not an internet “myth” although Fr. Bouyer is hardly an unbiased observer. But to your point, what internet snippets from his description don’t reflect is despite the rush to “finish it up” at the infamous cafe, he thought fairly highly of his insert and its source (though not quite not so much of Dom Botte’s last minute contribution). I don’t think it matters that it may not reflect an anaphora of Hippolytus or a post second century date or possibly non-Roman origin. Rather, I personally think it is too short to give God his due on Sunday. I also don’t dislike the 2010 translations. I would say EP 1. Followed by EP III.

      3. Thank you, Todd Voss for posting the reference.

        To Paul, I am not understanding the distinction between an immovable preface and one that cannot be replaced by another?

  5. I use EP II all the time, due to time constraints, the fact that is it is the easiest for people to understand (fewer words means less bad translation) and so more time to pray it reverently. The others are simply too wordy, too complex, and difficult (for me) to pray well.

    1. “…the fact that is it is the easiest for people to understand (fewer words means less bad translation) and so more time to pray it reverently.”

      This, to me, is exactly right. I don’t think it is a complete coincidence that this seems to have become more of an issue after 2011. Time doesn’t seem to me to be much of an issue – the difference in time is probably only a minute or two – but the difference in comprehensionis enormous. I also disagree with those who suggest that longer is more reverent. It is not; it is just longer and poor translation doesn’t help. Think about Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. A famous orator of the day spoke for several hours at the memorial. Without looking at Google name him.

  6. I concur with Lee. The longer prayers, especially EP I, have more words to botch or obscure by latin word order and so-called “sacral” language. Many priests have developed the ability to amend the more obscure wordings “on the fly” without altering the substance of the texts. The most important thing, of course, is to pray what the church believes. Any alteration of the faith of the church would be a grievous mistake.

  7. I find it very sad that my fellow clergy limit themselves to EP II. EP III is a more formal prayer, better suited for Sundays. I also chafe at the excuse of ‘time constraints.’ Why do you presume to cut back the Eucharistic Prayer and not something else like your homily, or an over lengthy Prayer of the Faithful, or songs with too many verses, etc? In Ordinary Time, there are a wealth of other options to use in the Missal which I use frequently. I don’t accept the excuse of excessive words or poor translations. With practice and attentive delivery, you can make adjustments without undue strain. I think we are denying the people of God many beautiful expressions of prayer by not using the other EPs that are available. With that said, I have to confess that I have never used EP1. I have trouble with the litany of saints that is included and with the imagery of saints taking our sacrifice to the far away heavenly altar – too old school for me!

  8. This thread is not about the form or even the length of the different EPs. It is about the translation, pure and simple. Why spend more time than the absolute minimum with texts which are still unsayable and unprayable? We want to get through them as quickly as possible!

    This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the savage boot in the face of Catholic spirituality given by the agenda-driven translation authorities, and the equally hard finger given to the ecumenical movement across the world.

    The fact that our bishops have, unbelievably, done nothing to reverse the damage, even now that Pope Francis has opened the door for them, is nothing less than shameful. The bishops claim that the people would not tolerate further expense, and they (the bishops) know that they would effectively have to admit publicly to their betrayal of pastoral principles and a colossal waste of time and money (which is of course ongoing). How little they know their people! Not only would the people rejoice at the undoing of the demolition, they would embrace their Ordinaries for being sufficiently humble to admit their egregious errors. The same is of course true in other areas of Church life, but alas the majority of our bishops are too frightened to take the risk. Some have admitted in private how wrong they were, but what good has that done?

  9. Before the new translation, when I celebrated in English, I would use all the Eucharistic Prayers I-IV plus Reconciliation I & II, plus Chidlren I, II & III when appropriate, and the VN&O I-IV once they were available. The new translation made EP I & EP III unusable for me. EP IV still needs updating . . . but I would use it, even on Sundays in OT. My standby would be VN&O I-IV, even if I needed to use a proper preface.
    Now I celebrate mostly in Spanish (I’m in Colombia), and the issue of translation doesn’t apply. Here EP II is normal for almost all clergy. But I prefer the other prayers if possible. I use EP II on Sundays only when absolutely necessary. Mostly use VN&O. I think I do that because almost everyone else is using EP II exclusively. Of course, in Colombia, there is a time constraint. Masses can follow each other on the hour. Besides clergy are overworked. I’m retired, and continue to assist in parishes . . . but I don’t feel the time constraint as much as the regular clergy. And in our Spanish missal there are inserts galore for every occasion for all the EP’s.

  10. At our place 2 and 3 alternate on Sundays.
    The only time I have heard 1 since 2011 was when I was visiting a parish run by priests of the Ordinariate. The language struck me as so pointedly “arch” and adjective-laden that I had to check that they weren’t using something that doesn’t appear in the Roman Missal.
    I have not heard 4 once since 2011. And that feel like a loss.

  11. I use the Missel Romain on Sundays with our francophone African congregation, and I have been happy with the expansions of EP II that Fergus Ryan pointed out. There are expansions for some of the more prominent feasts as well. I understand that the French are about to publish a new Missel Romain based on the latest editio typica; I’m anxious that it will lack some of the virtues of the one we are using.

  12. Regarding the choices of the EP, there are many reasons. I am a priest of 45 years, now retired.
    One reason is translation. Many priests I know find EP1 awkward and even difficult to understand. Before, it was much more clear. I really liked EP4 before, but now it is less poetic and, for me, no longer has the flow and the lyricism it once had. I like EP2. It is understandable, and, I always thought, the most ancient of the Eucharistic Prayers, from Hippolytus. Is that not right?
    I like R1 and R2 for Advent and Lent. I also use the EP for Masses with children, at school Masses. Actually, many of the older daily Mass attendees tell me how they like those EPs for the children.
    There are some other reasons for the choices priests make. In my last assignment of 10 years, I did not alway have other priest help, so having 5-6 liturgies a weekend was not unusual: a Saturday morning Mass, then, perhaps, a funeral, quincenara, or wedding OR a funeral, then a wedding, then confessions, then the evening Mass. Then, on Sunday, there were 3 English Masses and a Spanish Mass. Many priests I know have this experience. That can certainly affect was EP is chosen. I often chose different EPs at each Mass just to stay more alert, fresh, and prayerful.
    Being retired, I now cover on weekends for many priests in rural areas. It is really hard for them to find help. Most have multiple parishes in separate towns. Recently, I celebrated Masses at 8am, 9:30am, and 11am in 3 different towns and had to drive 12-17 miles in between. Obviously, EP2 was the choice. Even in the metro area, I may drive between Masses to help in different parishes, so distance and traffic are an issue. In being a parish priest these days, there are a lot of things that may affect the theological and liturgical ideal. Thank you.

  13. One interesting suggestion is to keep the “new” text for the congregation but go back and look at the previously developed translation which I believe had collects cued to the readings for all three years. I think they called this the gray book.
    The priest parts can be changed without much grumbling from the pew, especially if the translation is not as awkward or confusing. Those prayers were beautiful and meaningful if I remember correctly.
    I still find it strange to say: Let us pray. Hear us, we pray….

  14. Would contributors please avoid using initialisms that are unfamiliar, or not readily familiar, to those readers who are not ‘in the trade’? SNO? VN&O?

  15. At my parish one of the priests almost invariably uses EP III on Sunday. The other priest is more varied in his approach, but does use EP I on solemnities and somewhat regularly on other Sundays. He says it with great fluency. The notion that EP I is difficult to say is undermined whenever I hear Father M. use it.

    EP II is hardly ever used on Sundays at my parish.

    1. I think the point made here is worth consideration. The degree of literacy among clergy naturally does vary, and now that we have many priests working among us (at least in GB) whose first language is not English (all my priest colleagues in my Parish are Italian) the question of the fluency of the translation we currently use is more urgent.

      I know English speaking priests who can tackle the First Eucharistic Prayer quite easily and make sense of it, equally there are those who say they can’t. I have no problem with it, though I find myself making some modifications in practice. I am lucky, I suppose, in being used to complex prosody, having been brought up on the Book of Common Prayer in the Church of England, but even in the light of that, I find the ‘mock Tudor’ language of the current English Missal inferior, and not easy in many parts.

      So if I am finding bits of it a problem, I feel sympathy for my colleagues who might be in a worse case!

      AG.

      1. In the first couple of years after the rollout of RM3, my experience was of fairly progressive-leaning priests diligently preparing for fairly smooth praying of all of the main EPs, and of more conservatively-inclined priests being more limited in their choices and awkward in their delivery: my reaction was to attribute that more to personal temperament issues, but it was interesting to witness. But then, after the first couple of years, more priests seemed to revert to ruts of personal habit – as before the rollout.

        Even though I have my share of questions and concerns about translation choices (in act and omission), at a more general level I have no issue with complexity of prosody and register for the recurring portions of the Ordo, as there is an opportunity for those to percolate over time (I am not of the school that all of the liturgy must be uniformly comprehensible as ordinary conversation in the immediate instance); I am much more concerned about the collects, which are only heard once a year.

  16. Over and over again I say, the 4 Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions, especially #3 and #4, are the best for Ordinary Time, now that they are allowed for use on Sundays.

    I’d argue their language is (mostly) easier and simpler than EPII. There’s nothing complex about this “You are indeed Holy and to be glorified, O God, who love the human race and who always walk with us on the journey of life. Blessed indeed is your Son, present in our midst when we are gathered by his love, and when, as once for the disciples, so now for us, he opens the Scriptures and breaks the bread.”

    The first and second options are relatively short. Most striking is the beautiful Vatican II language in #3, and the charity & compassion language in #4.

    1. I agree. I’ve assumed the current English is more straightforward because these were not originally composed in Latin with a Latin rhetorical warp and weft in mind and so Liturgicam Authenticam issues were less vexing.

      There are still two weeks of Ordinary Time to go before Ash Wednesday….

      (Since it’s 20 years ago and therefore ancient history, I also remember the two interesting Eucharistic Prayers that were approved and published for use during Jubilee 2000 – my transcriptions of them remain inaccessible to me as the document files got corrupted when I changed operating systems in 2008. While I offered them to the priests of the oratory where I then worshiped, none took the bait. Makes me wonder if there might be special Eucharistic Prayers composed for what would likely be an Extraordinary Holy Year 13 years from now. Enterprising liturgical theologians endowed with gifts for prosody should start their engines now.)

      1. I’m very lucky I’m work with a half dozen priest who ask for my suggestions on prefaces and eucharistic prayers.
        Generally, I think they find they have 100 things to do on a Sunday, that even they know this is something they shouldn’t sweat, and thus the “take the bait” (as you say).

  17. The 1998 Canadian Sacramentary proposed an insert for EPII for Sundays:

    Lord, you are holy indeed,
    you are the fountain of all holiness.

    *By the resurrection of your Son
    you have renewed creation and made holy this day.
    Through water and the Holy Spirit
    you have called us to the glory that has made us a holy people,
    moving our hearts to proclaim your praise.*

    Send down your Spirit upon these gift to make them holy,
    that they may become for us
    the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

    1. Jeffrey
      that is interesting. The Spanish version has the optional Sunday addition after the Institution Narrative, just after the line: “Remember, Lord, your Church, spread throughout the world.”
      I guess this shows that different additions could be considered for different parts.

      Although the Spanish (i.e. from Spain) edition has a dozed different inserts for different occasions and there could be a danger of swamping the prayer with different options. I believe that some of these inserts are also in the English version for ritual Masses, but as they are in different parts of the book (or even in other books) they are not often used.

  18. Prior to the new translation I regularly used all 4 EP’s during the week and 1 and 3 especially on a Sunday. I suspect many priests did. Priests have not stopped this practice simply because they are unable to handle poetic language or want the mass to be short.

    Dubai said build a city and tourists will come and they did. The church built these new EPs and many priests have stopped using them.

    At least two (possibly three) retired bishops, intelligent men all, have publicly apologised for them. For how long are people going to insist on defending the indefensible. Thank God the Spirit ensured EP 2 and 3 are at least usable. Eventually the church will pluck up the courage to give priests a usable English missal.

    We priests are many things, religious artisans in one sense. I long for the day when I have the tools I need to preside at mass in the form of an intelligible and beautiful translation.

  19. The U.S. 1998 Sacramentary had this embolism for EP II:

    In communion with the whole Church, 
    we have assembled on this day which you have made holy,
    and, rejoicing that you have made us a new creation in your risen Son,
    we pray:

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