Friday, February 29, 2008

Liturgy: Eucharistic Prayer II

You're probably familiar with Eucharistic Prayer II (and its preface). It's short (which means it's popular). It is based on a rather ancient anaphora from the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus. Let's compare the two side-by-side, and then I'll share a bit of the context of the ancient anaphora.

Anaphora of Hippolytus (4:4-13)
Eucharistic Prayer II


We give thanks to you God,
through your beloved son Jesus Christ,

whom you sent to us in former times
as Savior, Redeemer,

and Messenger of your Will,
who is your inseparable Word,
through whom you made all,

(see above)

and in whom you were well-pleased,
whom you sent from heaven
into the womb of a virgin,
who, being conceived within her,
was made flesh,
and appeared as your Son,
born of the Holy Spirit and the virgin.

(see below)


(see below)


It is he who, fulfilling your will
and acquiring for you a holy people,

extended his hands in suffering
,
in order to liberate from sufferings
those who believe in you.








(see below)





Who, when he was delivered
to voluntary suffering
,

in order to dissolve death,
and break the chains of the devil,
and tread down hell,
and bring the just to the light,
and set the limit,
and manifest the resurrection,

taking the bread,
and giving thanks to you,

said
,

"Take, eat,
for this is my body
which is broken for you."

Likewise the chalice, saying,




"This is my blood

which is shed for you.

Whenever you do this,
do this (in) memory of me."





Therefore, remembering
his death and resurrection
,
we offer to you
the bread and the chalice,
giving thanks to you,
who has made us worthy

to stand before you
and to serve
as your priests.

And we pray that you would
send your Holy Spirit
to the oblation of your Holy Church.

In their gathering together,
give to all those who partake
of your holy mysteries
the fullness of the Holy Spirit,
toward the strengthening of the faith in truth,



















that we may praise you
and glorify you
,
through your son Jesus Christ,

through whom to you
be glory and honor,
Father and Son,
with the Holy Spirit,
in your Holy Church,
now and throughout
the ages of the ages.

Amen.
Father, it our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere
to give you thanks
through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

(see below)



He is the Word through whom
you made the universe,

the Savior you sent to redeem us.





By the power of the Holy Spirit
he took flesh
and was born of the Virgin Mary.

For our sake he opened
his arms on the cross
;

he put an end to death
and revealed the resurrection.

In this he fulfilled your will
and won for you a holy people.

(see above)



And so we join the angels and saints
in proclaiming your glory:

[SANCTUS]

Lord, you are holy indeed,
the fountain of all holiness.
Let your Spirit come upon these gifts
to make them holy,
so that they may become for us
the body and blood
of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Before he was given up to death,
a death he freely accepted,

(see above)




(see above)

he took bread
and gave you thanks
,
He broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples, and said:

"Take this, all of you, and eat it;
this is my body
which will be given up for you."

When the supper was ended, he took the cup.
Again he gave you thanks and praise,
gave the cup to his disciples, and said:

"Take this, all of you, and drink from it;
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.

Do this in memory of me
."

Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.

[Memorial Acclamation]

In memory of
his death and resurrection
,
we offer you, Father,
this life-giving bread, this saving cup.
We thank you
for counting us worthy

to stand in your presence
and serve you.



(see above)




May all of us who share
in the body and blood of Christ
be brought together in unity
by the Holy Spirit.


Lord, remember your Church
throughout the world;
make us grow in love,
together with N. our Pope,
N., our bishop, and all the clergy.

Remember our brothers and sisters
who have gone to their rest
in the hope of rising again;
bring them and all the departed
into the light of your presence.
Have mercy on us all;
make us worthy to share eternal life
with Mary, the virgin Mother of God,
with the apostles, and with all the saints
who have done your will throughout the ages.

May we praise you in union with them,

and give you glory
through your Son, Jesus Christ.

Through him, with him, and in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
almighty Father,

for ever
and ever.

Amen.

So we can see that EP II is very much based on this ancient anaphora. It's not the same prayer, but it's close, and it has some praiseworthy additions. For perspective, the Roman Canon -- Eucharistic Prayer I -- remained essentially unchanged for over 1300 years! The most recent change was in AD 1962 when Pope Bl. John XXIII added St. Joseph's name. The previous change was during the 7th century, most likely towards the end of the pontificate of St. Gregory the Great (AD 590-604). That's some 1300 years between modifications!

Now, you might say, "Yes, well, the anaphora of Hippolytus lasted even longer without being changed." That's true, but it also hasn't been in use in the Roman Rite since the Roman Canon became the Eucharistic Prayer (which seems to have been around AD 400); and that's assuming this particular anaphora was ever used: Hippolytus offered this as a model prayer, not as something to be spoken exactly. Having more than one Eucharistic Prayer is a novelty for the Roman Rite.

The biggest point I wanted to make is that the reference in the anaphora to standing and serving the Lord (cf. 4:11) is, to me, a clear reference to the priests and bishops. The use of this prayer was for a bishop who was just ordained (cf. 4:1-2) -- this wasn't the everyday Eucharistic Prayer of the early Church, although for many of us, it's the one we hear most weekdays, and many Sundays and holy days. That sentence of the prayer uses a plural pronoun ("we" or "us") because there were multiple bishops and priests present at the altar: it was a concelebration of sorts.

In EP II, the reference to "priests" has been excised, but the plural pronoun retained: this appears to cast it as speaking of the royal priesthood of the baptized, rather than the ministerial priesthood. Maybe that's why some priests say the people should be standing during the Eucharistic Prayer... or why they use the verb "be" instead of "stand".

(Much of the historical information on the Canon comes to me from the Catholic Encyclopedia.)

4 comments:

preacherman said...

Japhy,
I love these prayers.
They are so moving, powerful and touching. Is there a book that you can buy that has them all in it? If so, how much does it cost? I would love to read some of these prayers at my congregation.
I want to thank you for your blog and sharing this with us.
God bless you with many blessings.
Your friend,
Kinney Mabry

japhy said...

You can find the texts of four of the Eucharistic Prayers used in the Catholic Church online. The priest chooses one of these prayers during the Mass for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This is the part of the Mass where the priest, calling upon the power of the Holy Spirit, consecrates the bread and wine into the Real Presence of Jesus Christ -- his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity -- and offers it, as did Jesus himself, to the Father.

The Church calls the Eucharist a "holy and perfect sacrifice" because it is the very same one (albeit presented in an unbloody manner) that Jesus offered on the cross, just as when Jesus offered it at the Last Supper, it was unbloody. It's not a "representation" (symbol or reminder), but rather a re-presentation (making present again) of the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all time.

preacherman said...

Japhy,
Thank you brother.
I appreciate your friendship.
I will find these online then.
Thank you so much for you help.

Ritualist said...

-----The biggest point I wanted to make is that the reference in the anaphora to standing and serving the Lord (cf. 4:11) is, to me, a clear reference to the priests and bishops. The use of this prayer was for a bishop who was just ordained (cf. 4:1-2) -- this wasn't the everyday Eucharistic Prayer of the early Church, although for many of us, it's the one we hear most weekdays, and many Sundays and holy days. That sentence of the prayer uses a plural pronoun ("we" or "us") because there were multiple bishops and priests present at the altar: it was a concelebration of sorts.

In EP II, the reference to "priests" has been excised, but the plural pronoun retained: this appears to cast it as speaking of the royal priesthood of the baptized, rather than the ministerial priesthood. Maybe that's why some priests say the people should be standing during the Eucharistic Prayer... or why they use the verb "be" instead of "stand".--------

That particular translation of was the interpretation of Dom Botte. When translating the reconstruction, he came to ministrare and based on the Greek Apostolic Constitutions, the Testamentum Domini and the Ethiopian version identified it with the Greek hierateuein. Therefore he regarded the Latin text as an inadequate translation of the Greek and translated ministrare as "serve you as [your] priests"

This is accepted by a number of scholars, especially given the context i.e. ordination of a bishop, as you pointed out. Some however disagree. One group accepts the rendering of Botte, that ministrare means hierateuein but rejects the idea that this applies only to priests. The other group insist that the meaning is closer to diakonein or leitourgein which merely means 'serve' or 'minister'.

I often feel that the side one takes often depends on their theological 'agenda'. But at the same time, I doubt it's possible to be entirely free of such things when analyzing.

The different outlook is reflected in the liturgical translations as well. Some versions (English, Spanish, French, German) version lean toward the second reasoning -closer towards diakonein or leitourgein and translate it as minister, serve, or similar. Other translations (Italian) lean towards the first i.e. hierateuein and translate it as "offer you priestly service" or similar. Of course, the Latin has the convenience of leaving it as ministrare :)