QUAERITUR: Swiss Eucharistic Prayer

From a reader:

This morning at Mass the priest used the 3rd Swiss Eucharistic prayer.  Is that licit?  What are the other Eucharistic prayers that are allowed other than 1, 2, 3, and 4 and the one for Masses with Children?  Can you shed some light on this one?  Currently, I believe Mass this morning was valid but not licit.  Am I right?

For the USA, in 1994 the then-NCCB approved a translation of the "Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs and Occasions".

This prayer had its origin in a prayer composed in the 70’s for a Swiss synod.  It has some variations based on different themes: "The Church on the Way to Unity," "God Guides the Church on the Way of Salvation," "Jesus, Way to the Father," and "Jesus, the Compassion of God." It is printed as one prayer but it is really four different prayers. 

But, from what you wrote, yes… it was licit.   This Swiss prayer was approved for use in the U.S.A.  I don’t know about other countries.

I don’t use it.  I won’t use it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ASK FATHER Question Box and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Fr Jackson says:

    Dear Father Zuhlsdorf,

    If you will kindly permit, I would be most intrigued to learn more details about why you would not use a liturgy that you recognize as not only valid, but licit and approved by legitimate authority. I ask the question because I see a possible parallel with my own reasons for not using the Novus Ordo at all.

    Many thanks.

  2. Fr Jackson: I am not sure about that parallel.

    The Swiss EP is an option a priest can chose. I prefer a different option, the Roman Canon, and so I don’t choose the Swiss EP.

    On the other hand, the Novus Ordo is not simply an option. If I am, for example, visiting a parish were only the Novus Ordo is used, and I am asked to take a Mass, I cannot simply opt to use the Extraordinary Form. I can, however, make a choice about the Eucharistic Prayer I am going to use.

    On the other hand, your point about liceity and validity is taken: the fact that something is both licit and valid does not automatically mean that it is good.

  3. Philangelus says:

    Is there any restriction on using the Eucharistic Prayer for Masses with children? Today I wondered that when I was at daily Mass and there were only three adults under the age of 50, and all three children present were under age three. :-)

    Although I wonder sometimes if “He came to take away sin, which keeps us from being friends, and hate, which makes us all unhappy” is about the limit of my theological complexity. :-)

  4. Adam Welp says:

    Will the Swiss Cannon still be an allowed option on the First Sunday of Advent?

  5. Cannon is always a valid option. Ask St. Joan of Arc about cannon placement. :)

    The Mass with children Eucharistic Prayers are going bye-bye in the new translation. I’m sorry for my pastor’s sake, ’cause he likes that one you quoted; but I’m so glad it’s going. Man, if they’d ever used that when I was a little kid, it would have been a case of “constant weader fwowed up”.

  6. tzard says:

    There are quite a few “alternate” Eucharistic prayers approved it seems. Am I correct the approval will continue even when the new translation of the Roman Missal is promulgated?

    Will there be a problem of some of these being chosen instead of the new text?

  7. diezba says:

    @PhilAngelus: I sure hope there is a restriction. One of our priests randomly uses the Children’s Eucharistic Prayer during our Daily Morning Masses when /I’m/ the youngest person there (I’m 27, thanks). Of course, if the language were a little more elevated, it would be WAY better than EP II. At least EP II as it is.

    @SuburbanBanshee: Are you sure the Children’s EPs will be de-authorized after Dominica I Adventus? If so, Deo gratias!

  8. Fr Martin Fox says:

    I like the Swiss prayer, and I used to use it occasionally. But I stopped using it several years ago.

    Why? Because I think that too much variation in the Eucharistic prayer, while the celebrant may like that, will tend to be far less formative to the spirituality and spiritual imagination of those attending Mass. I think it benefits all of us when these words being very familiar, and that won’t happen if there are too many variations.

    So, supposing we only had the Roman Canon, and these, I might use them. As it is, I stick to the main four, and don’t use the Swiss prayer, or the Reconciliation prayers. I stopped using the children’s prayers several years ago.

    I suppose I could use it when offering Mass privately; but in that case, almost without exception I offer Mass in Latin, and then, almost always I use the Roman Canon. At some distant point in the future, I may be so at home with the Canon in Latin, that I can venture into others. But that day is not today.

    If there is a carefully considered objection to the Swiss prayer based on content, I’d like to hear it. I emphasize “carefully considered”–meaning, something more than, “I don’t like it.”

    FYI, this Swiss prayer is licit to use whenever there is not a proper preface; so Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, as well as memorials, feasts and solemnities, it cannot be used.

  9. dspecht says:

    Well Fr. Jackson has a point – the crucial point if dealing with the NOM.

    Of course, you Fr. Zuhlsdorf or others can use the Roman Canon – but that´s not the problem (and does not solve the problem) of the NOM. Because it is also totaly legitimate and licit to use this Swiss Canon (or the 2. Canon etc.etc.!) !
    And you could bring other examples: of course the NOM has some options to trim it in a traditionla way — but that does not make the NOM all ok. It is the other possibilities to celebrate it also in a very modern (modernistical) way.

    Remember, we do NOT speak about ABUSES — we speak about the total licit possibilities. That is the problem of the nOM – his AMBIGUITY.
    And then IMHO many draw wrong conclusions: If you can trim it the traditional way, then it is all ok., there is still the possibility of the Roman Canon, still the option of the “orate fratres” so you can´t say the nOM is per se evil.

    But that (IMHO) is an error in reasoning.

    The problem is exactly the “it´s POSSIBLE” and “the OPTION” — so you have the option to celebrate it in a tradditional way with an orthodox intention (well, that´s fine, of course — but it should be natch – and not optional!) — but you also have the “option” and “Posiblility” to celebrate it in a modern way, with modernistical intention.

    And it was created to do so (to have the doors open to all ways and possiblilities, to the “modern world”, “modern thinking”, “ecumenism” etc. – as you can read in the papers and utterances of the designers of the NOM)!!

    An ambiguitiy can be venial and excusable — but a deliberate, designed, purposly ambiguity with the option – the goal tho have this option – to celebrate in a very modernistic and modern-worldly-anthropozentric way is NOT.

    Such an ambiguity is harmfull, so evil, so condemnable.

    THAT´s exactly the problem of the NOM [in itselfe, not in it´s “abuses”]:

    it is designed that you can celebrate it in some traditional way (yes, ok.) — but also – totaly licit (!) – in a modernistical/ecumenical/world-and-man-centered way (NOT ok.!).

  10. Fr Martin Fox says:


    Are you saying that the Swiss prayer is “modernistical/ecumenical/world-and-man-centered”? And if so, can you say why you render that judgment of the prayer?

    Or, are you saying merely the fact of an alternate Eucharistic prayer to the Roman Canon–regardless of content–is “modernistical/ecumenical/world-and-man-centered”? If so, can you expand on that, please?

    FWIW, I don’t consider ecumenical to be a bad thing. I understand the purpose of ecumenism to find ways to restore the unity Christ called for. True, proper, valid ecumenism does not do so at the expense of the truth; but it may do so at the expense of something clung to that can be let go of, without damage to the truth.

    Example: parishes practice a kind of “ecumenism” even between fellow Catholics. I want to reach out to Spanish-speaking Catholics in my area. Were I to start using some Spanish hymns, or Spanish prayers, as part of a Sunday Mass, that does not put the truth at risk. But it requires a change of mind and heart on the part of non-Spanish speaking Catholics who don’t like that “compromise” with that they are used to.

    In a similar way, if the Church can find new ways to formulate and express the truth that bridges gaps with non Catholic Christians, what’s the problem?

    Yes, I am well aware that many truth-risking things were done in the name of ecumenism; I am not defending that, so there’s no point in rehashing that. The issue is valid ecumenism–which I submit is good, not bad.

  11. dspecht says:

    Rev. Fr. Fox,

    sorry that I did not find the time to answer You (earlier) because a think that could have been I fruitful discussion.

    Well, now it is a little late (for an every-day-actualized blog) – but let me nevertheless try a short answer (I don´t know if you will read it because it is so late – perhaps we find a possibility to discuss an other time, under an other thread…):

    It is not the one or other part/possibility/elemination alone, so not only the Swiss Canon (f.e.)

    It´s the many details and the whole (or not whole, but some — see below!) “spirit” behind it,

    so the elemination of most of the invocations of the Saints and of the mentioning of their merits (Confiteor, Embolism, 2. Canon, Sucipe Sta Trinitas, etc…),

    the elimination/weakening of the sacrificial and esp. expiatory character (new “offertory”, again 2. Canon),

    the abolition of the knee bends directly after Consecration,

    the elimination/abolition of the word “soul” in the whole Requiem [that´s a grave thing given/if you know the theological context and debate re this!!],

    the new Good-friday-prayer for the Jews [NOM][also very grave, like the next two (or all the here mentioned points)]!!

    the wrong tranlation of pro multis,

    the elemination of some (important!!) verses of the reading (1 Cor) at High/Maundy Thursday, Corpus Christi and in all Masses of the MB Sacrament,

    — should I go on??!

    (cf. also the Short critical examination ed. Una Voce, with foreword of. Card. Bacci and Ottaviani).

    Not to mention all the other liturgical re-/de!-formation, it was not only the Mass, you know – as the horrible new formula of baptism (with the abolition of violett out of the door, the exorcisms, …) — etc. etc. etc. !!

    And – but – I DO NOT say, that ALL intentions (and implementations of this intentions, so the concrete reforms) were bad. (Again: NOT!! – the whole thing is very complexe, there were good intentions or at least debatable ones, besides, combined or mixed up with debatable-problematic or very problematic or real bad/wrong/rejectable ones…)

    F.e. I am a friend of “giving the vernacular some more space in the liturgy” and could live with the Old Liturgy in vernarcular!

    [So I have fallen between all chairs now, I fear – here in this forum/blog that is full of fans of latin…!]

  12. dspecht says:

    And to end and as well to pic up my last point [as a friend or “positiv-tolerator” of the reform of 65 as which I am outing myselfe now!]:

    If the only (and as such acceptable or at least positiv-debatable and well-grounded) intention would have been to make it easier for the congreation to follow the Holy Liturgy

    why DIDN`T they just take the wonderfull and theological clear old textes and translated them into the vernacular

    BUT did eleminate or totaly change them [best example new “offertory”] — and thereby sytematically eleminate the specific Catholic doctrine and wording and esp. doctrine and wording that does not please the Protestants, other non-Catholics or “modern ears”, f.e. the sacrificial-expiatory character of the Mass, the invocation of the Saints, the Soul, hell, devil, …. ?

  13. dspecht says:

    To add last but not least:

    Of course you could define and practise a good “ecumenism” – as you told yourselfe, Rev. Fr. Fox, not at the expense of truth.

    But eleminating systematically the expression of specific Catholic doctrine as the reformers did is not an example of this sound “ecumenism” but quite the contrary.

Comments are closed.