Using Eucharistic Prayer I instead of II or III: it is about opportunity for more intentional prayer.
A full year has passed since I began the nearly exclusive use of Eucharistic Prayer I (also known as the “Roman Canon”) at offerings of Mass. Accordingly, I think it is important at this time to revisit the motivation for my use of this prayer – mindful of those who have recently joined our parish and with the continued hope that all recognize how this prayer invites deeper intercessory prayer along with giving a greater depth of meaning to the sacred mysteries being offered.
Though some find Eucharistic Prayer I difficult as it is lengthier than the other commonly used settings, its length (or for that matter the brevity of the other prayers) will hopefully not be a stumbling block for any – as there is a great depth to Eucharistic Prayer I that is not found in the other settings. First of all, it is noteworthy that for at least 1500 years (and probably closer to 1700) until 1970, Eucharistic Prayer I was the ONLY prayer ever used in offering the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Some minor adjustments have been made to it through the centuries by various popes, giving it even greater depth and clarity in meaning. This depth includes the clear language on the Eucharist as a sacrifice, the naming of many early Church saints and martyrs (that connect us to our roots), and the very humble petitions on behalf of all, both living and dead. These petitions are the key element that I want to share with you.
When Eucharistic Prayer I is prayed, there are two moments when the priest is to make a deliberate silent pause to call to mind particular people and intentions. The first pause (near the prayer’s beginning) is to call to mind living persons and their circumstances; the second (after the consecration) is to call to mind the deceased. Both of these moments offer a direct way for the priest to remember the particular intention for a given Mass, along with many others persons and prayer intentions. To that end, I recognize how I am much more attentive to praying the Mass for the assigned intention (as this deliberate pause helps me keep the intention at the front of my mind), while also keeping in mind those people or needs that any have asked me to pray for in the present day. It is a beautiful way to bring to mind and heart even more persons and needs at every Mass – more than the other Eucharistic prayers will naturally allow – and therefore, I hope you will continue to grow in your own hearing/meditating upon this prayer as it is prayed, especially by bringing your own intentions to mind in silence in these moments of pausing and calling to mind persons whom we love.