From a reader:
Today at Mass, the lector introduced Father as the “presider.” Is it
more proper to call the priest a presider or a celebrant?
Father said, “As we pray TOGETHER the Second Eucharistic Prayer….”
Do the people actually pray the Eucharistic Prayer WITH the priest?
No kneelers either… But I consider us lucky to have a priest at
all… After all, Mass is not offered every day at this Church…
First, most “lectors” in parishes don’t know their Ashur from their Eldad. They read what is on the paper. I suspect that this is not the “lector’s” fault.
Also, I seriously doubt that the person who read it was actually an instituted lector. I will bet all the money in my pocket right now that the person was a reader substituting for a lector.
While priests do “preside” at the church’s “liturgies”, they are better called “priest” or “celebrant”, both more priestly words. Anyone can be a “presider”, but only a priest can be a priest. Also, I think we should call what goes on “Mass” rather than just “liturgy”.
A “presider” at “liturgy” strips the action of its sacrificial character. Mass is a Sacrifice. For there to be a Sacrifice there must be a priest, not a presider. Not all liturgies are Masses. There is a circumstance in which a bishop or pope, for example, can “preside” at Mass celebrated by a priest or a bishop. But that is not the usual state of affairs in a parish.
We should correct our sloppy, protestantizing language (vague “presiders” and “ministers” of this and that) with clearer more Catholic language which more accurately reflects what we believe as Catholics.
Today this “presider” language is very pervasive. It is so commonplace now that many priests who are quite sound in their theology and ability to express themselves use this language unconsciously.
What the sloppy language does is erode the distinction between the priesthood of all the baptized and the priesthood of the ordained, which are qualitatively different. In fact, the language erodes the idea of priesthood in itself.
That leads to the next part of the question. Usually one question is enough, but these are related.
The congregation can and should unite their intentions with those of the priest during the Eucharistic Prayer. But I am not sure about this “praying along” with the priest. I am sure they mustn’t, whatever they do, pray aloud with the priest. That would be quite wrong indeed. However, do they pray the prayer, silently, along with the priest? I don’t know.
First, it is a priestly prayer. Yes, the baptized have a priesthood of their own, by which they are about to offer spiritual sacrifices. No, the baptized are not priests as the priest is a priest. Second, while sections of the Eucharistic Prayer are prayers as such, the institution narrative is something rather different. It isn’t so much prayer as a priestly, sacramental relating of what occurred which has the effect Holy Church says it has according to Christ’s own command, etc. I am not sure the priest himself “prays” that part in his role as priest. You can tell by the different tone of that section and how the tone changes immediately after the consecration. I digress.
I am not sure about this “praying” the Eucharistic Prayer with the priest. I think people should at least pay attention, consider the meaning of the many petitions, consider their own petitions and strive to join them to offerings on the altar, etc.
It might be that this talk of “pray the Eucharistic Prayer with the priest” comes from a kind of sentimentality, a romanticism, or perhaps that oh-so-prevalent notion of “active participation” whereby everyone at all times has to be singing or saying every word like coordinated automatons. There is also an odd, and I think deadly sort of clericalism at work in some cases, whereby lay people are driven to do what priests properly do, otherwise they aren’t “active” enough. This is insulting, of course. Lay people should not be made to do what priests properly do in order have a sense of their dignity or participation.
Anyway, those are a few thoughts.