Monday, February 14, 2011

Eucharistic Prayer Addressed to God the Father

Monday greetings to one and all. Happy Valentine's Day.



We received word this morning that one of our talented music editors, Keith Kalemba, and his wife Claire welcomed a new baby into the world. Robert Andrew Xavier was born this morning. Congratulations to the entire Kalemba clan.

On Saturday I was privileged to give a morning workshop to initiation ministers in the Diocese of Joliet here in Illinois. Our focus was on the celebration of the Scrutinies. It was great to spend this time with a great group of people dedicated to initiation ministry. And, frankly, it was also kind of a relief not to be focusing on the Roman Missal!

Speaking of the Roman Missal, I was so struck at Sunday Mass yesterday in my parish by the praying of the Eucharistic Prayer. My pastor chose Eucharistic Prayer III to pray at Mass. I paid extra close attention to his praying of the prayer. He has it committed to memory and, throughout the prayer, it is clear that he knows to whom the prayer is addressed. He prays the prayer with his eyes lifted, clearly addressing the prayer to God the Father. Some people who experience a celebrant who engages the assembly through gestures and almost constant eye contact during the prayer might find my pastor's approach quite aloof. I find his praying of the prayer to be quite the opposite. When one experiences the prayer (through the celebrant's posture and focus) as rightly addressed to God the Father, it becomes quite apparent that what we are doing is, in the words of Eucharistic Prayer III is exactly what the prayer says we are doing: "All life, all holiness comes from you through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, by the working of the Holy Spirit. From age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name."

When a celebrant focuses out attention to God the Father during the prayer, as my pastor did on Sunday, it becomes much clearer that this "perfect offering" is made to the glory of God's name. At least to this member of the congregation.

Your thoughts?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

7 comments:

Chironomo said...

Well...this has been the advocate's argument for ad orientem posture for many years. No mistaking who the prayer is addressed to then....

I am dismayed at your thought that "some people" might find it insulting that the Priest doesn't make eye contact with them during Mass. This just shows the extent of the (incorrect) notion that the focus of worship is us. Direct one's eyes to where they ought be directed in prayer...

JFT said...

Perhaps unwittingly, you've highlighted one of those many "opportunities for catechesis" that the new translation provides. That is, the replacement of the phrase (one of my favorites in this prayer) "...from east to west..." and its replacement with "from the rising of the sun to its setting...". The new translation fails to consider the metonymy of the Latin, and hence without additional translation on the part of the hearer, the domain of universal space (east to west), so clear in the current translation, is replaced by a restricted notion of time (just during the daylight hours?), which of course is not what is intended. It's yet another example of where greater literalism does not yield greater comprehension.

John Black said...

There would, certainly, be those who would be insulted. Taking things unrelated to ourselves as offensive is a current human specialty. And many presiders feel it is their duty to include the faithful with eye contact.

That said, it seems so incredibly obvious that this approach is so wrong. It is a prayer to God and not a story read to the assembly. Our former pastor prayed the Mass just as Jerry describes. You could not help but be pulled along by this man's authentic spirituality. (We miss him.)

Dom in LA said...

I would not find this way of praying aloof. I would find it edifying and inspiring. I do think it's important to model what the prayer actually is: thanksgiving to the Father.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that you make this comment as the last several weeks as I'm sitting in Mass trying to pray during thie Eucharistic prayer I have been very struck at the fact that my pastor seems to have III nearly memorized, yet he looks at the assembly the entire time like the prayer is a proclamation.

Chironomo said...

the domain of universal space (east to west), so clear in the current translation, is replaced by a restricted notion of time (just during the daylight hours?)

Surely you are aware that the Latin original signifies that the perfect offering is made "at all times", not "in all places"... the sun is always rising, and always setting, and the sacrifice of the Mass is thus always being made. You have actually, unwittingly pointed out how the old translation leads us to an incorrect notion of what the prayer is actually saying...

Chironomo said...

JFT;

And, it might be useful to note the scriptural reference to Malachi 1, from which this particular part of the prayer is taken. The Latin "ut a solis ortu usque ad occasum " is clearly referring to time, not place. This is not, as you point out, a restriction but rather an expansion of the notion of the universality of the "perfect offering".

A good catechetical moment for all....