"Un Ti Morceau"

"A Little Something," mini-lessons and reflections by our pastor, Father Paul Counce

The Eucharistic Prayer: The Preface

Published October 06, 2013 by Fr. Paul Counce

In our ongoing review of the Mass, we’ve come to the great Eucharistic Prayer. It begins with the preface, made up of a brief dialogue between priest and congregation, followed by a changeable introductory prayer of praise to God, ending with the familiar “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Hosts...” acclamation by everyone.

For centuries the preface has been the most flexible part of the Eucharistic prayer. It’s amazing to note that there are over 90 different approved preface-texts in our Missal! Many are arranged seasonally: there are texts for the Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Eastertime, for instance. And others are topical: say, for use on feasts of the Lord, of Mary, and certain kinds of saints (like apostles, or martyrs, or religious), or when the Eucharistic liturgy is expanded by another celebration (for example, at a wedding or funeral Mass).

During “Ordinary Time” the celebrant has very wide latitude in choosing the preface text (at least the seminary was supposed to teach him that he’s not limited just to the very general, “common” ones specifically labeled as appropriate for use during that season!). When preparing for Mass the priest tries to choose one that will be most proper for that specific celebration.

Wanna know a secret? I find that the prefaces that focus on the mystery of “Christian death” are often very appropriate for use during Ordinary Time. For us human beings there will hardly be any moment more crucial than the one in which we meet the Lord forever! So at liturgy, it’s often to focus on little ways we can live in preparation for that important event!

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