13 February 2007

Protestant Text, Catholic Use

The Lutherans in the USA had a 'Common Eucharistic Prayer' once upon a time, and it was shaped in Book of Common Prayer language but its content was judged very Catholic by a number of scholars of an earlier period. I have always thought the prayer astonishingly captivating and was even more astonished by the number of Lutheran clergy who never used it! Be that as it may, I would like to illustrate how a Protestant text might find its way into the Catholic Church when Protestants as a group unite with Rome and are allowed to keep elements of their tradition that are consistent with the Catholic truth.

While it is perhaps doubtful today that this Lutheran 'Common Eucharistic Prayer' would ever serve as the Canon of the Mass in a Catholic context, elements of this beautiful prayer certainly can be drawn together to create a prayer of approach for the Priest and Assembly analogous to the Prayer of Humble Access in the Book of Divine Worship -- that miraculous Book of liturgies for Roman Catholics coming from the Anglican tradition. So here is the prayer as I have edited it, and who can say whether or not such a prayer might not have a future in a revised edition of the Book of Divine Worship ... with broader application in mind:

Priest and People
Holy art thou, Almighty and Merciful God.
Holy art thou, and great is the Majesty of thy Glory.
Thou didst so love the world
as to give thine only-begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him might not perish,
but have everlasting life.
Having come into the world
to fulfill for us thy holy will,
he accomplished all things for our salvation.
Remembering therefore his salutary precept,
his life-giving Passion and Death,
his glorious Resurrection and Ascension
and the promise of his coming again,
we give thanks to thee, O Lord God Almighty,
not as we ought, but as we are able;
and we beseech thee mercifully
to accept our praise and thanksgiving,
and with thy Word and Holy Spirit to bless us thy servants,
so that we and all who partake of Christ’s Body and Blood
may be filled with heavenly benediction and grace,
and, receiving the remission of sins,
be sanctified in soul and body,
and have our portion with all thy saints.
And unto thee, O God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be all honour and glory in thy holy Church,
world without end. Amen.

It may well be argued that this prayer in part repeats what has already been said by the Priest in the Canon. Well, precisely so! Here I might insert some reference to Christifidelis laici but instead let me simply claim the need for repetition of the truths of the Catholic Faith within the Mass itself. Through these internal repetitions and the repeated participation in the Mass, such truths are comprehended and such prayers become not only learnt by heart but also prayers of the heart.