Food for thought for priests who use the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer

17_09_07_EuxIII don’t use the Second Eucharistic Prayer.  Okay, okay, I don’t say the Novus Ordo all that often either.  But when I do, I use the Roman Canon… always.  Even when I was saying the Novus Ordo often, I did not use Number Two.  The way I figured it, when I got to the very bottom of the Roman Canon, exhausted it, no longer found anything interesting or new in it, then I might move on.

Fr. Hunwicke hit for six again today. He helpfully and properly undermines the appeal of the Second Eucharistic Prayer, which is a perfect example of how some aspects of the Novus Ordo were artificial, cobbled up creations which have disrupted our Catholic identity.

How sad it is that so many priests use the Second Eucharist Prayer so often… (or at all).  Fathers… please… rethink your ars celebrandi.

Here is Fr. H with some emphases and comments:

“Hippolytus”; or “The Second Eucharistic Prayer”

How able, how cunning, the Enemy is in his plots to bring Evil out of Good. I will illustrate this by considering his use of a Eucharistic Prayer still sometimes linked with the name of the early third century antipope Hippolytus.  [BTW… His Hermeneuticalness, Fr. Tim Finigan, wrote a spiffing post about the Second Eucharist Prayer waaaaay back in 2007. He blows it out of the water.  HERE]

My distinguished predecessor at S Thomas’s, Dr Trevor Jalland, wrote ‘The widespread interest evoked by the visual demonstrations of the Hippolytean Eucharist, which have been given in various parts of the country [by Dix since July 1948], [interesting] testify to the deep indebtedness not merely of scholars, but of the ordinary worshipper, to Dr Gregory Dix in making available for English readers the text of Hippolytus’ invaluable treatise The Apostolic Tradition.’

One aspect of this rite which particularly appealed to Catholic Anglicans was the presence of the phrase ‘we offer unto thee this bread and this cup’. This seemed to provide an alibi for smuggling back into the mainstream worship of the Church of England a formula expressive of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, absent from our Parliamentary Liturgy since 1559. Thus in 1966 the English Liturgical Commission recommended a rite (‘Series II’) which contained this phrase; justified on the ground that ‘It confines itself to the simple language of the first two centuries. It is the language used by Hippolytus … The use of the phrase is in line with the Anglican appeal to antiquity’.

At about the same time the pot-Conciliar revisers of the Roman Rite [“pot”-Conciliar… I’ve often wondered what they were smoking…] incorporated a mangled version of ‘Hippolytus’ Eucharistic Prayer’ as an alternative to the venerable Canon Romanus, the invariable Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman rite for so many centuries. The version which those revisers adopted had been confected by Dom Bernard Botte and Fr Louis Bouyer in between caraffes of wine in one of Rome’s seedier areas tras Tevere. [True!]

By 1989, however, Bouyer, at least, had given up the idea that ‘Hippolytus’ really was by Hippolytus, or even had any connection with the Roman Church. This doubt has now become the academic orthodoxy. (If necessary, one murmurs here the name of Professor Paul Bradshaw.)

Unfortunately, ‘Hippolytus’ failed in the laudable struggle to recatholicise the worship of the Church of England; the Evangelicals vetoed the crucial phrase. The Enemy saw to that.

But the version put out by the Roman revisers did, by the Enemy’s able machinations, succeed in almost entirely eliminating the Canon Romanus from the worship of most ordinary RC churches, where its extreme brevity appealed to priests and people alike (despite the rubrical guidance given that the Canon Romanus was for Sundays and ‘Hippolytus’ for other occasions). The passion for brevity, which made dear old Fr O’Murphy I say the Old Mass with such unholy rapidity, made his trendier nephew Fr O’Murphy II select ‘Hippolytus’ with unholy regularity in the New Mass. [A seminarian who once served as sacristan at the North American College related to me a pre-Mass conversation with a Cardinal: “Eucharistic Prayer II again today, Your Eminence?”  “Not if there’s a shorter one! HAR HAR!”]

So, in the one body, ‘Hipplolytus’ failed to achieve the hoped-for good of restoring the Eucharistic Oblation; and in the other body it did massive positive harm by edging out of use the Eucharistic Prayer which did express the full doctrine of that Sacrifice.

Satan’s Smoke! Killing two birds with one stone! [Catachrestic but effective!]

That information about the Anglican use of Hippolytus was new to me.  Fr. Z kudos.

So, Number II is licit option.  Being licit doesn’t make it a good option.

Eucharistic Prayer II

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Peter Ignotus says:

    I use the Canon pretty much exclusively on Sundays, but use #2 on most ferial days. I have been under the impression that #3 was made up in the 60’s, so I generally avoid it, but perhaps I am mistaken. Would love to hear your take on Eucharistic Prayers #3 & #4.

  2. Nathan says:

    While Almighty God is always faithful and does His part, especially in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it seems to me that our using Eucharistic Prayer II does not “do our part” in giving Him what is due to Him–in terms of what we are capable of giving.

    The virtue of religion, as a matter of justice, IMO requires Catholics to give God our best, not some made-up-out-of-whole-cloth-in-a-bar-and-passed-off-as-ancient prayer that reflects, at best, a diminished belief in the Real Presence and the Holy Sacrifice.

    Of course, I say that because EP II is for me a fairly troublesome distraction when I go to daily Mass in the Novus Ordo. I have to pray very hard not for Our Lord not to allow my “liturgy critic” inclinations to kick in.

    O Lord, please fully restore the Traditional Latin Mass on our altars!

    In Christ,

  3. Joseph-Mary says:

    I would say that I experience 95% Eucharistic Prayer when I attend the Novus Ordo. Hardly time to prepare or pray before the Consecration and then so quick it is ‘shake hands’ time it seems. But I am fortunate in that a couple of times a month I can assist at a TLM on a Sunday…

  4. I confess I do use the Second Eucharistic Prayer — very sparingly. The only time I use it is when time constraints are serious. For example, for Holy Day of Obligation Masses during the work day.

    Other than that, I use the Roman Canon. Visiting priests? As you might surmise. I cannot forbid them from using it.

    [First, find a really sharp razor. Then, open your missal to…]

  5. iPadre says:

    A few years ago an older woman came to the rectory and pleaded with me to use a “shorter” prayer and not always the “long” one. I told her it’s not going to happen.

    We would never rush through our various recreations like we do the Holy Sacrifice. People want longer movies, longer games, … anything but Jesus, He’s boring!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  6. Guillaume says:

    What about the third Eucharistic Prayer? Could you offer some comments about it?

  7. JustaSinner says:

    Hitting for six? Do you bowl Father?
    (Always had a feeling the 2nd Eucharistic prayer was a solid #2…thanks for giving my ‘feelings’ some solid confirmation!)

    [No. That’s just one of the very few cricket terms I know.]

  8. G-Veg says:

    Thanks for prompting me to go back and compare the Eucharistic Prayer I and II.

    I am now pondering the last time I heard Eucharistic Prayer I in my parish. It certainly hasn’t been recently. Perhaps Easter was the last time.

    It isn’t a particular priest either. (I am quite fond of our priests so this isn’t meant to be a dig at them.) We bounce around between masses because my wife is a Reader and my son an Altar Boy. Regardless of priest, I think it has been many months since Eucharistic Prayer I was used.

    It really is a more expressive and specific prayer.

  9. Father G says:

    I did use EP II during the first few years after my ordination, but only on weekdays when there was no memorial/feast/solemnity. I have never used it for Sunday Masses. Then, I stopped using it entirely after learning from the memoirs of Fr. Louis Bouyer that EP II had been composed on the table of a trattoria in Rome.

  10. Flos Carmeli says:

    Interesting (and a bit shocking) to know more of the details of how EPII came about.
    On the subject of time constraints vis a vis daily Mass: I am just a pew warmer, but in my thinking the Roman Canon probably only adds 3, maybe 4 minutes to the entire Mass. During the work week, when people really do have to be mindful of their other duties, this time can be made up in a variety of ways, like shorter (or no) “off-the -cuff” homilies or less messing around with supplying superfluous EMHCs. I know I would much rather have the full Eucharistic Prayer than a homily that, while very well-meaning, was hurriedly jumbled together just before Mass.

  11. Lavrans says:

    The Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter parish that I serve at only uses the Canon. There is only one alternative to it, but it is never used. It seems right.

  12. I can’t remember when I switched over to almost exclusively using the Roman Canon (EP I) and only rarely EP II. I have heard that not only is EP II no longer considered Hippolytan but it may not even be from an orthodox source. EP III they cobbled together from pieces of other Canons, both the Roman and some Eastern, while EP IV is Coptic in origin. Since it has its own preface EP IV can really only be used on a weekday which has no feast. As for the other EPs such as those for reconciliation I have never even looked at them. For me the Roman Canon is rich in imagery. For instance I recently read an article from the First Fota Liturgical Conference in Cork (2007) that suggested that the lists of saints in the Roman Canon form a Deesis (Greek, ‘intercession’) centred on the Consecration. The Roman Canon is like Scripture, there are depths within depths.

  13. majuscule says:

    I do not know the origins of EP III… But twice, when two different priests chose EP III over EP II (which is what we usually hear on Sunday) I made it a point to tell them that I noticed and appreciated that they did this. Both times the priest commented that he used it in place of EP II because he felt it was more sacrificial.

    That was from two different priests.

    (Before clicking “post” I did a very quick search of the texts of EPs II and III. I thought perhaps it was the use of the word “oblation” that is in EP III and not EP II that makes it seem more sacrificial. But when I also looked for the word “sacrifice” I found it three times in EP III and zero times in EP II.)

  14. hwriggles4 says:

    My parish had a Parochial Vicar originally from the Philippines who normally used Eucharistic Prayer II. Personally, I find I, III, and IV to be more meaningful. Our Pastoral Administrator is a convert who came in through the Pastoral Provision, and he almost always uses III or I. I like the passage in III about “The rising of the sun” and the naming of the saints. I also like how I starts with “to you most merciful father” and the Pope and the local ordinary are named in the first paragraph.

    My old pastor became a Bishop, and he rarely used II. Normally, he would use III or I. He really liked Eucharistic Prayer IV, which I find is rarely used in the Novus Ordo. I still recall the first time I heard Eucharistic Prayer IV in Spanish – it is beautiful.

  15. hwriggles4 says:


    Good for you. Years ago, a friend of mine told me that he came to Mass one Sunday and asked the priest politely before Mass, “Father, do you have time for a quick confession?” The priest said, “Son, we don’t rush sacraments.”

    These are good examples of priests who do not let parishioners walk all over them.

  16. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I still await that blessed day when a future Pius XIV (Burke) is duly coronated following the glorious restorationist pontificate of Pius XIII (Sarah). As his first act, he suppresses all alternative EPs and restores the unadulterated Roman Canon to the novus ordo. He also suppresses the rite of peace and restores the traditional offertory.

    Then he’ll elevate Msgr. Zuhlsdorf to head the CDW where the two forms will finally embrace and we shall arrive at a true reform of the reform and a unified missal.

    And there will be much rejoicing.

  17. asburyfox says:

    Fr. Martin Fox,

    Instead of using EPII during Holy Day of Obligation Masses during the work day, you could always make your sermon shorter. Maybe a lot shorter. Roman Canon always takes precedence over the sermon. Always.

    [Ummm… wow. Just… wow.]

  18. JGavin says:

    Have not yet read the complete post, I will when I finish offering this comment. Yes, I know , poor form with regards todoing this but this opening line is hitting a nerve or putting my finger in an electric socket. I can recall a curate of our parish in the 1970’s precisely 70-73 since I was in grade school, who could recite it with the speed cadence of an auctioneer. just imagine “Lord you are Holy indeed…” at lightening speed. I have disliked this prayer since. I attend a Parish far from where I was raised, which uses it almost exclusively. To my even greater annoyance they do not stick to the script. They will change words or expressions during the recitation. This was true before the recently revised translation. If the older translation was so wonderful, why do you feel the need to improvise on the text? Secondly, you, the priest generally have not a poetic bone in your body, why would you even attempt it I am tempted to ask. I have considered instructing my family members that it is under no circumstances to be used for my funeral. In general it ought to be banned. If not each and every day let us first start with Holy Days then maybe Sundays. Along with banning this EP, I would favor restoring the old confiteor and prayers at the foot of the altar

  19. Ipsitilla says:

    To paraphrase Douglas Adams, “the dewfall has landed with a particularly sickening thud this morning.”

  20. Fr. Reader says:

    In a average Sunday Mass many are not even able to say what is an Eucharistic Prayer, much less to know what is happening when the priests changes from II to I. Only they know that they hear two lists of funny names (perhaps the deceased or people we pray for, they might ask), and that it takes a bit more of time to go to the Consecration. In the process, the choir members might be a bit confused because they want to sing something but they don’t find a moment.
    If the homily is very short (but rich) and there are not many announcements at the end nobody will complain about a “long” Eucharistic Prayer, especially if they notice that the priest is praying, that he is doing something sacred, and not just talking non sense.
    When I studied elementary school the priest always used the EPI, and I never felt anything strange about it.

    I recently realized that many Catholics have been denied much not only in the Liturgy, but also in good Christian art, which is terrible, considering the role of Christianity in the history of art. They haven’t seen good paintings or images of Christ or the Blessed Virgin Mary in the churches, only abstract conceptualization of religious feelings labeled as “art”.
    Recently, during a class I prepared a series of images of images of Christ from different periods and styles and asked the students (not theologians, liturgists, art experts, or trads): which image do you feel is more sacred? Another group of images and: which image do you think is more liturgical? Another group: which one do you feel is more pious? Their answers were not a surprise for me, what is surprising is that those who design churches and make “art” never asked themselves or others these questions.

  21. jaykay says:

    I had always understood that EPII wasn’t to be used on Sundays, and as I recall in our Parish, post-1970 and the NO introduction, this is pretty much what they did, and EPIII got a good run-out for many years, along with the Roman Canon/EPI (which had anyway been introduced in pretty much its present format sometime prior to 1970, so there was already familiarity there). So people who didn’t go to weekday Mass got very familiar with EPIII, also EPI. EPIV was rarely, if ever, used. Then, sometime in the 80s/90s, they seemed to go for EPII almost exclusively – and this not just among Priests ordained since 1970 but older ones too, some of whom would have celebrated the TLM. And so it continues to this day.

    When they actually did, mirabile dictu, use EPI at last Christmas “midnight” (hah!) Mass it was disgraceful the way it was stumbled through, very obviously because of unfamiliarity. Christmas Day Main Mass? EPII. Who’d a thunk it! Things had improved a good deal by the Easter Vigil in that EPI wasn’t stumbled through but again on Easter Sunday main Mass what was used? No prizes. And so it will continue for the forseeable future, it seems, unless Someone in Authority does Something.

    Yeah, good luck with that :(

  22. hwriggles4 says:

    I do find it irritating when a priest rushes through the Mass, although I could understand if a priest has to take a sick call immediately following Mass, but that wouldn’t be on a daily basis. We had a priest at a Catholic college I attended (mid 1980s) who could get through a daily Mass in 15 minutes, and he would rush through the consecration that students and faculty nicknamed the Mass the “Ryan Express”.

    Our parish would sometimes have an order priest come say Sunday Mass and he purposely talked fast, acting like Mass was not important and his mannerisms looked like he had better things to do with his time (this sent a negative message to young people). Fast forward a year when our newer pastor arrived. After the visiting priest said Sunday Mass a few times, our newer pastor revoked his privileges at that parish. Kudos to the newer pastor.

  23. guans says:

    Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda’s comment should get a gold star too, n’est ce pas?
    and add that that Easter be celebrated the same day in East and West.

  24. Ben Kenobi says:

    Sigh. Anglicans. Why is it always their corrosive influence?

  25. JesusFreak84 says:

    The sole priest of the parish I attended in college only ever used the “reconciliation” EPs. (He also used the “peace be with you” greeting that’s SUPPOSED to be reserved to the Bishop ._. ) If there was a visiting priest and I heard EPII, it was one of the rare times I actually rejoiced to hear it. My parents’ parish never uses anything except II or III. Then again, neither of those parishes ever used musical settings that “fit” the Roman Canon; you can’t go from the dignity of EPI to singing the Sanctus in a melody that sounds like it’s a PBS-Kids reject.

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