Thursday, May 20, 2010

And Another Thing, Eucharistic Prayer III!

Another passage in Eucharistic Prayer III that always drives me nuts:
Strengthen in faith and love your pilgrim Church on earth;
your servant, Pope ___, our bishop _____,
and all the bishops,
with the clergy and the entire people your Son has gained for you.
It's an important prayer -- of course we want our Church, our leadership, our people blessed and strengthened. My problem is, on the face of it the prayer seems so heavily weighted toward the ordained. We move through the Pope, the bishop, but then also all the other bishops and the clergy, before we ever mention the broader people of God that they're all a part of. They get part of a line, and that's it. They almost seem like an afterthought -- the liturgical version of saying "and everyone else". Or "etc."

One priest friend said to me, hey, man, don't complain. We ordained, we need all the prayers we can get.

And that's sure true, brother. But you know what, I think if I asked my brother and sister-in-law or my sister and brother-in-law, who are raising families, working their tails off and trying to keep the zip in their marriage and be good people, they might say they could sure use those prayers, too. Maybe even more than "poor me". (It's a funny thing about being clergy; you can really talk yourself into thinking how tough you have it, and not even realize how hard it is to get the grass to grow that green on the other side...)

Case in point...

I don't like to change the prayers; they're poetry. You don't mess with that. But I have to admit, I will often times jump right from our bishop to "and the entire people your Son has gained for you." "Entire people" includes the bishops, it includes the priests, it includes the sisters and religious and everyone else, and it doesn't send the message that the ordained have priority in the scheme of things. Before Vatican II, some might have said that. But that's not the understanding of our Church today.

Another friend gave me an even better suggestion: "and all those who minister in the Church and all his holy people." Ministry certainly points to the broader pool of bishops and clergy, but it also includes everyone else with a role in the Church.

Here's the new translation:
May this Sacrifice of our reconciliation,
we pray, O Lord,
advance the peace and salvation of all the world.
Be pleased to confirm in faith and charity
your pilgrim Church on earth,
with your servant N. our Pope and N. our Bishop,
the Order of Bishops, all the clergy,
and the entire people you have gained for your own.
"Entire people" now get its own line, which is nice, a bit less throwaway. Also, the text adds a "with" before mentioning all these specific groups, a nice addition, as it makes more clear that all of what follows is part of "your pilgrim Church" (a.k.a the people of God). Still overheavy in its weight toward the ordained, though. But this isn't a new text, after all, just a new translation.

I'm away tomorrow, but I'll be back with something new on Wednesday.

Happy Pentecost!!!

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