QUAERITUR: Priest changes words of the Eucharistic Prayer

From a reader:

A priest (not the pastor) in my suburban ___ parish changed the words in Eucharistic Prayer IV to reflect inclusive language. ‘You formed man’ became ‘You formed us.’ And he prayed, [You] ‘entrusted the world to our care, so that … we might have dominion over all creatures,’ instead of ‘his care’ and ‘he might have,’ etc. In doing so, did Father really say Mass? I know the usual advice is tell the pastor and if he doesn’t address it, tell the bishop, but I wonder how serious a problem this is as far as the legitimacy or validity of the Mass.

Here’s the bottom line.

Priests may not on their own authority change the words of the liturgical texts when there is not rubric which says they can use other words.

So, NO, that priest is committing a liturgical abuse.

I direct you to Redemptionis Sacramentum.

6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters

[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

So, I would start by contacting the pastor. First, in a brief chat. Then, if that doesn’t work, with a letter. Keep copies of everything. If that doesn’t work, write to the local bishop. If that doesn’t work, then send the whole thing to the Congregation for Divine Worship.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. aurora says:

    And I thought we had problems when this goes on in 12 Step groups that want either Goddess or totally gender neutral God by eliminating He or Him from the wording of the 12 steps and 12 traditions. If this is the prevailing tone of the meeting/group and someone raises the
    issue, “group conscience” prevails, majority wins and in some cases folks get out the correction fluid and masking tape.

  2. Matthew P. Schneider, LC says:

    Peace for our reader: Mass was VALID.

    That being said, Fr Z is right that such changes are (1) illicit, (2) a form of liturgical abuse, and (3) should be stopped.

    Fr Z, you missed the last line “I wonder how serious a problem this is as far as the … validity of the Mass.” The liturgical abuse has to be more serious to get to that.

  3. Random Friar says:

    Most priests I know never use IV. It used to be because they found it too “exclusive,” mostly, with some not liking the language as whole. The newer translation is more “inclusive,” although it still retains a few “man/men/he/his.”

    I personally like IV, although I am quite aware that I am in the minority.

  4. BillyT92679 says:

    I’m shocked he used IV at all.

    I’ve only been to one church in my life that ever did, in Shortsville NY.

    It’s really theologically profound from a holistic salvation history perspective. It’s probably too sweeping to be honest. Plus it has its own preface that MUST be used. (II has a preference that SHOULD be used but almost never is and isn’t mandatory). So IV really is only for Ordinary Time/Sundays after Epiphany/Sundays after Pentecost. It doesn’t work for any big feast days. I guess it COULD work for Easter, but the Roman Canon obviously has pride of place. IV has history behind it, as all of them do as anaphoras or from other Sacramentaries. To me it’s the most post Vatican IIy if that’s the best way to describe it. Very optimistic, hopeful, perhaps too much so. Fits into the whole Credo of the People of God milieu from that era. Like the CotPoG it’s quite lovely in “big” terms.

    To me the RC, then EC III, then EC II for Daily Mass.

  5. BillyT92679 says:

    EC IV is a David Lean/Cinemascope presentation of the Church. Lots of vistas. It’d be nice to hear it occasionally, but it would be very jarring. Especially in the post LA/RS era. It’s rarer than the old Masses for Children EPs

  6. catholicmidwest says:

    The time to put the note in the collection plate instead of a donation is the very first time this happens. Training & expectations are everything.

  7. Jon says:

    How about always and only the Roman Canon and “just say NO” to the rest?

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