Origins and Influences XII: Making comparison

This week’s blog looks different. The texts of the prayers under consideration are presented in table form on a PDF that can be downloaded below.

It is easier to control the layout of the table that way! Hopefully opening the document in a different screen and displaying two screens together will be practical for most readers of the blog. But I apologise in advance for any complication in reading the commentary and accessing the table at the same time.

The PDF offers English translations of the Eucharistic Prayer from the early Church Order commonly known as the Apostolic Tradition (ApTrad), and Eucharistic Prayer II (EPII) from the current Roman Missal. The text of each is laid out to best show the amendments made to the Prayer of ApTrad when adapting it to create EPII.

The notes below relate to the sections of the prayer, as numbered in the central column in the PDF.

1. Preface Dialogue.

  • This Dialogue, now common across Church traditions and in pretty much the words given here, first appears in ApTrad.

2. Preface

  • The Preface of EPII echoes the words of ApTrad (although it would be anachronistic to call this section of ApTrad a Preface, not least because – as we shall see – ApTrad lacks the Sanctus which so shapes later Eucharistic prayers)
  • EPII addresses the Father, ApTrad addresses God. Both ‘names’ are accurate, but addressing the Father as God, directly and without some qualification, runs the risk of some suspecting that the Son, the Word, the Spirit are not God in the same way as the Father. Increased care about such address would be taken later especially in the wake of the Arain controversies.
  • The same controversies made ‘angel’, and ‘child/servant’ (paidos) less acceptable as ways of referring to Jesus – Word, Son, Lord, Saviour and Christ being the most common alternatives.

3. Preface (continued)

  • It is possible that the elaborate description of the incarnation in ApTrad was put in place to guard against incipient Arianism

4. Preface (continued)

  • ApTrad speaks of Jesus’ suffering and the release from suffering that he wins for us. EPII speaks more explicitly of the Paschal Mystery – here, Passion, Death, Resurrection. It might be implied that we benefit from the breaking of the bonds of death and that we share in the Resurrection, but this is less directly evident.

5. Sanctus

  • The Sanctus does not appear in ApTrad. It takes various forms in different rites and first appears in the liturgies of Syria and Alexandria. It is introduced into the Roman Rite during the 5th Century.

6. Post Sanctus

  • The Post-Sanctus of EPII suggests a second purpose to the Eucharistic Prayer. It is not, like the prayer of ApTrad, a Prayer of Thanksgiving, pure and simple, during which bread and wine is eucharistised. It would be more true to say that EPII is a Prayer of Thanksgiving and a Prayer of Consecration. EPII introduces a first epiclesis calling on the Spirit for the purpose of the transformation of the Gifts.
  • It is worth considering what we give priority to when we come to offer any Eucharistic Prayer – giving thanks to God, or enabling making it possible for us to receive Holy Communion. EPII has been objected to from within the Orthodox Churches as being basically a quick prayer provided to consecrate the sacred elements, rather than a prayer focused on thanksgiving.

7. Institution Narrative

  • ApTrad delineates here the dimensions of the Paschal Mystery which EPII names in 4 above. ApTrad displays a narrative verve that EPII lacks. It highlights the dynamic of the saving acts of Jesus.

8 Institution Narrative (continued)

  • ApTrad makes it clear to whom Jesus was giving thanks!  It is perhaps clear in EPII, but if the focus is less  on the Thanksgiving we make and more on the Communion we are to receive we may miss the parallel between what Jesus did and what we do.
  • The words over the bread in ApTrad are close to those in EPII and the other Eucharistic Prayers of the contemporary Roman Rite. Both avoid the terseness of phrase used in the unrevised Roman Canon’s Hic est corpus meum/This is my body.

9. Institution Narrative (continued)

  • EPII’s words over the cup/chalice, retains pretty much the words of the Roman Canon which incorporates phrases from the Gospels and Paul and expands beyond what ApTrad offers by way of commentary on the meaning of the cup and the shedding of his blood.

10 Mystery of Faith

  • The words over the cup in the Roman Canon included the phrase Mysterium fidei. This is not a phrase that appears in the biblical accounts of the Last Supper. It is perhaps best understood as a descriptive phrase, commenting on ‘the new and eternal covenant’. However it was removed as part of the revision of the Liturgy required by Vatican Council II and made into an occasion for a congregational acclamation, highlighting not the covenant but the Paschal Mystery and/or Jesus’ saving death.

11 Anamnesis

  • Both prayers include a section which explains the rite as an active remembering of Christ’s death and resurrection, a remembering in which the past event, the saving mystery, in once more present, real and active. Arguably EPII makes the memorial more of an institutional thing than does ApTrad, again perhaps a consequence of the focus of EPII on both thanksgiving and consecration.
  • EP is more expansive than ApTrad in its description of the bread and cup – once more drawing attention away from thanksgiving towards the consecrated elements.

12 Epiclesis

  • The 2nd epiclesis in ApTrad is more expansive in its explanation of what is asked for and why, and what is asked for is the unity of the Church and the integrity of faith of its members. EPII links the sought for gifts more closely to the act of reception of the Eucharistic elements, named here as ‘the Body and Blood of Christ’. Eucharist is prioritsed over Church and faithfulness. ApTrad asks for the fruits of communion in order to better give thanks (Cf 16: Intercession). Thanksgiving is returned to in EPII but almost in passing after the passages of Intercession which are added to the core prayer provided by ApTrad.

13, 14, 15 Intercession

  • EPII incorporates intercession for the living and the dead, and a calling on the saints – elements of the Roman Canon, and which find parallels and echoes also in Liturgies of the Orthodox, such as those of St Basil and St John Chrysostom.

17: Doxology

  • The Doxology of ApTrad feels somewhat clumsy in its phrasing. In Section 2 the Prayer was clearly addressed to God through Jesus Christ. Now in its conclusion it is addressed to God, Father Son and Holy Spirit.
  • EPII has benefit of the agreement reached in the 4th C AD on how to speak of Trinity and prayer in Christ, and also the general agreement eucharistic prayer is principally addressed to the Father, while not neglecting the trinitarian unity of Father, Son and Spirit.
  • ApTrad does give a final mention to this praise being offered to God in Holy Church. Its phrase seems an enrichment of the Doxology but it has not found its way into the contemporary Roman Rite.

18: Great Amen

  • I’m newly struck by the importance of the Amen, the congregation’s asserting its ownership of the thanksgiving, the remembrance and the intercessions voiced by the priest presider.

Reflection Questions

  • What do you make of the criticism that EPII is basically a prayer to effect consecration and neglects thanksgiving?
  • ApTrad gives the congregation voice in the Preface Dialogue and the Great Amen. EPII allows the congregation’s voice to be heard in the Sanctus and Memorial Acclamation also. What do you think of that?
  • What helps you join with the offering of the Eucharistic Prayer?
  • How much of the detail of a Eucharistic Prayer impacts on you at Mass? What difference does the use of the different prayers in the current Missal make to you? Do you have a favourite? And if so why is it your favourite?

  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  • Translation of text of ‘Apostolic Tradition’ is taken from Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed. RCD Jasper and GJ Cuming. 3rd revised Edition, Pueblo Books, Liturgical Press, 2010.
  • Translation of Eucharistic Prayer II is taken from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.
  • Photograph(c) 2002, Allen Morris, Inscribed stone (gravestone). Museum of Rome, Rome..
  • Comparative table of ApTrad’s Eucharistic Prayer and Eucharistic Prayer II and Commentary (c) 2021, Allen Morris.

Gospel Reading for Saturday 22nd May

John 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them – the one who had leaned on his breast at the supper and had said to him, ‘Lord, who is it that will betray you?’ Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, ‘He will not die’, but, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come.’

This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true.

There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2007, Allen Morris. Detail of figure of St Peter. St Peter’s Primacy, Galilee.

Gospel Reading for Friday 21st May

John 21:15-19

Jesus showed himself to his disciples, and after they had eaten he said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2017, Allen Morris. Stained glass. St Peter’s Primacy, Galilee.

Gospel Reading for Thursday 20th May

John 17:20-26

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
I pray not only for these,
but for those also
who through their words will believe in me.
May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in you,
so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory you have given me
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known,
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them,
and so that I may be in them.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Stained glass. St Nicholas, Blakeney, East Anglia..

Gospel Reading for Wednesday 19th May

John 17:11-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
keep those you have given me true to your name,
so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them,
I kept those you had given me true to your name.
I have watched over them
and not one is lost
except the one who chose to be lost,
and this was to fulfil the scriptures.
But now I am coming to you
and while still in the world I say these things
to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your word on to them,
and the world hated them,
because they belong to the world
no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world,
but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth;
your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
I have sent them into the world,
and for their sake I consecrate myself
so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Sarcophagus. Musee Departmental Arles Antique, Arles, France.

Gospel Reading for Tuesday 18th May

John 17:1-11

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come:
glorify your Son
so that your Son may glorify you;
and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him,
let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
And eternal life is this:
to know you,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I have glorified you on earth
and finished the work that you gave me to do.
Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me
with that glory I had with you
before ever the world was.
I have made your name known
to the men you took from the world to give me.
They were yours and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now at last they know
that all you have given me comes indeed from you;
for I have given them the teaching you gave to me,
and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you,
and have believed that it was you who sent me.
I pray for them;
I am not praying for the world
but for those you have given me,
because they belong to you:
all I have is yours
and all you have is mine,
and in them I am glorified.
I am not in the world any longer,
but they are in the world,
and I am coming to you.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Detail of Stained glass panel by Harry Clarke. Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow.

Gospel Reading for Monday 17th May

John 16:29-33

His disciples said to Jesus, ‘Now you are speaking plainly and not using metaphors! Now we see that you know everything, and do not have to wait for questions to be put into words; because of this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them:

‘Do you believe at last?
Listen; the time will come – in fact it has come already –
when you will be scattered,
each going his own way and leaving me alone.
And yet I am not alone,
because the Father is with me.
I have told you all this
so that you may find peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but be brave: I have conquered the world.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Witness. A painting by Robert McNeil commemorating murder of Bosnian Muslims. Museum of Religion, Glasgow.

Gospel reading for Sunday, 16th May

John 17:11-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
keep those you have given me true to your name,
so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them,
I kept those you had given me true to your name.
I have watched over them
and not one is lost
except the one who chose to be lost,
and this was to fulfil the scriptures.
But now I am coming to you
and while still in the world I say these things
to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your word on to them,
and the world hated them,
because they belong to the world
no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world,
but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth;
your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
I have sent them into the world,
and for their sake I consecrate myself
so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Stained glass. St Peter in Vincula, Hampton Lacy, Warwickshire.

Origins and Influences XI: Prayers from the ‘Apostolic Tradition’

In this week’s blog we take a look at some of the prayer texts offered in the Church Order commonly known as the Apostolic Tradition, (hereafter ApTrad.)

Although ApTrad does offer particular texts for us, it also notes, notably of the Eucharistic Prayer given below, that use of these specific words in not necessary. Like Justin Martyr in his account of Eucharist the author of ApTrad was quite open to the idea that Thanksgiving should be ‘improvised’ by the Bishop.

The bishop shall give thanks according to what we said above. It is not at all necessary for him to utter the same words that we said above, as though reciting them from memory, when giving thanks to God; but let each pray according to his ability. If indeed he is able to pray sufficiently and with a solemn prayer, it is good. But if anyone who prays, recites a prayer according to a fixed form, do not prevent him. Only, he must pray what is sound and orthodox. (ApTrad Chapter 9)

(ApTrad Chapter 9)

If ApTrad is a work of Hippolytus of Rome (a matter discussed in a previous blog) it is possible that he did in fact favour, even by this work promote, the use of a fixed text as a way of protecting the integrity of the Liturgy against those bishops who held to a less rigorous (orthodox) theology or discipline, ( such as he detected in Rome’s bishops at that time.)

Be that as it may, ApTrad offers us texts, and it is to those we now turn.

 

CHAPTER 4: THE EUCHARIST

And when he has been made bishop, all shall offer the kiss of peace, greeting him because he has been made worthy.

Then the deacons shall present the offering to him; and he, laying his hands on it with all the presbytery, shall say, giving thanks:

The Lord be with you.

And all shall say:

And with your spirit.

Up with your hearts.

We have (them) with the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord.

It is fitting and right.

And then he shall continue thus:

We render thanks to you, O God, through your beloved child Jesus Christ, whom in the last times you sent to us as a saviour and redeemer and angel of your will; who is your inseparable Word, through whom you made all things, and in whom you were well pleased. You sent him from heaven into a virgin’s womb; and conceived in the womb, he was made flesh and was manifested as your Son, being born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin. Fulfilling your will and gaining for you a holy people, he stretched out his hands when he should suffer, that he might release from suffering those who have believed in you.

  • The Greek word lying behind ‘child’ (paidos) can be translated as child or as servant. It is used of Jesus also in the Didache.
  • Jesus is described as an angel. The word is likely used here not to suggest that Jesus is a created being, as are the angels, but that he was a messenger and servant to the will of God the Father, and in this respect Jesus is like the angels.
  • The use of ‘child’ and ‘angel’ to describe Jesus would later be judged inadequate because of the way such terms could be exploited during the Arian controversy by those who denied the full divinity of the Word and of Jesus. Their use here suggests an early date for this prayer.

And when he was betrayed to voluntary suffering that he might destroy death, and break the bonds of the devil, and tread down hell, and shine upon the righteous, and fix a term, and manifest the resurrection, he took bread and gave thanks to you, saying, “Take, eat; this is my body, which shall be broken for you.” Likewise also the cup, saying, “This is my blood, which is shed for you; when you do this, you make my remembrance.”

Remembering therefore his death and resurrection, we offer to you the bread and the cup, giving you thanks because you have held us worthy to stand before you and minister to you.

And we ask that you would send your Holy Spirit upon the offering of your holy Church; that, gathering her into one, you would grant to all who receive the holy things (to receive) for the fullness of the Holy Spirit for the strengthening of faith in truth; that we may praise and glorify you through your child Jesus Christ; through whom be glory and honour to you, to the Father and the Son, with the Holy Spirit, in your holy Church, both now and to the ages of ages. Amen.

  • child – see above
  • to the Father and the Son, with the Holy Spirit A certain hesitancy may be detected here in the wording of the Doxology, namely how to speak of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Father and the Son. It is possible that this prayer dates from as early as the 2nd Century, predating the Arian Controversy about what it meant to say Son of God, and to the subsequent consideration about the Holy Spirit which by the late 4th Century to the more settled understanding of how to speak of the Triune God.

ApTrad continues offering guidance for the blessing of other items that may have been offered. ApTrad is not explicit as to when this blessing takes place but the early Roman Sacramentaries reveal that in the Roman Rite such blessings would take place within the Eucharistic Prayer, immediately before the Per quem (Doxology).

CHAPTER 5: THE BLESSING OF OIL

If anyone offers oil, (the bishop) shall render thanks in the same way as for the offering of bread and wine, not saying (it) word for word, but to similar effect, saying:

0 God, sanctifier of this oil, as you give health to those who use and receive (that) with which you anointed kings, priests, and prophets, so may it give strength to all those who taste it and health to all who use it.

CHAPTER 6: THE BLESSING OF CHEESE AND OLIVES

Likewise, if anyone offers cheese and olives, he shall say thus:

Sanctify this milk which has been coagulated, coagulating us also to your love.

Make this fruit of the olive not to depart from your sweetness, which is an example of your richness which you have poured from the tree of life to those who hope in you.

But in every blessing shall be said:

To you be glory, both to the Father and the Son, with the Holy Spirit, in the holy Church, both now and always and to all the ages of ages. (Amen.)

The blessings do not feature in the current edition of the Roman Missal and such blessings would surely seem strange indeed to most Catholics today. Yet it should be noted that in the current Roman Rite, and in accord with traditional practice, on Maundy Thursday at the Chrism Mass the Blessing of the Oil of the Sick takes place within the Eucharistic Prayer. However it seems that at least in England and Wales the blessing this Oil together with the Oil of Catechumens and the consecration of the Oil of Chrism most commonly takes place after the Liturgy of the Word.

ApTrad still later offers an account of the Eucharist celebrated to conclude the celebration of Baptism.

This notable for a number of reasons. Firstly it includes mention of another blessing (presumably during the Eucharistic Prayer – this time of milk and honey (for which, again, a comparable text exists in an early Roman Sacramentary, the Veronese, where a Pentecost blessing is provided for as part of the Eucharistic Prayer for the blessing of water, milk and honey.) Secondly for the rather lovely phrase used when ministering the Eucharistic bread.

THE BAPTISMAL EUCHARIST

And then the offering shall be brought up by the deacons to the bishop: and he shall give thanks over the bread for the representation, which the Greeks call “antitype,” of the body of Christ; and after the cup mixed with wine for the antitype, which the Greeks call “likeness”, of the blood which was shed for all who believed in him; (and) over milk and honey mixed together in fulfilment of the promise which was made to the Fathers, in which he said, “a land flowing with milk and honey”; in which also Christ gave his flesh, through which those who believe are nourished like little children, making the bitterness of the heart sweet by the gentleness of his word; and over water, as an offering to signify the washing, that the inner man also, which is the soul, may receive the same thing as the body. And the bishop shall give a reason for all these things to those who receive.

And when he breaks the bread, in distributing fragments to each, he shall say:

The bread of heaven in Christ Jesus.

And he who receives shall answer: Amen.

And if there are not enough presbyters, the deacons also shall hold the cups, and stand by in good order and reverence: first, he who holds the water; second, the milk; third, the wine. And they who receive shall taste of each thrice, he who gives it saying:  In God the Father almighty. And he who receives shall say: Amen.

  • saying:  In God the Father almighty. And he who receives shall say: Amen.  Another manuscript tradition offers a different version of this ritual: He who gives it saying thrice. In God the Father almighty. And he who receives shall say: Amen.  And in the Lord Jesus Christ. (And he shall say: Amen.) And in the Holy Spirit and the holy Church. And he shall say: Amen. So shall it be done with each one.

ApTrad provides us with an insight into early Christian liturgy – whether it is describing the liturgy of Rome (or some version of it) or liturgy as celebrated in Egypt or Syria. As noted last week ApTrad is of particular interest to us today because of the way in which its Eucharistic Prayer has been adapted and incorporated into a broad swathe of contemporary liturgical rites.

Next week we will look in some detail at how the Prayer was adapted when it was incorporated into the modern Roman Rite.

  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  • Translation of text of ‘Apostolic Tradition’ is taken from Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed. RCD Jasper and GJ Cuming. 3rd revised Edition, Pueblo Books, Liturgical Press, 2010.
  • Photograph(c) 2016, Allen Morris, Fragment of carving, Vatican Museum.
  • Commentary (c) 2021, Allen Morris.

Gospel reading for Saturday, 15th May

John 16:23-28

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
anything you ask for from the Father he will grant in my name.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.
Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.
I have been telling you all this in metaphors,
the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in metaphors;
but tell you about the Father in plain words.
When that day comes you will ask in my name;
and I do not say that I shall pray to the Father for you,
because the Father himself loves you for loving me
and believing that I came from God.
I came from the Father and have come into the world
and now I leave the world to go to the Father.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Detail of Rosary window, church of St Mary, Fernyhalgh.