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Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation

And More on Stations of the Cross

ROME, MARCH 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: During Sundays and weekdays of Lent, is it permissible to use one of the two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation rather than one of the usual four Eucharistic Prayers? — L.N., Nairobi, Kenya

A: The inclusion of the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation, along with those for Various Needs and the special ones for children’s Masses, in the new Latin Missal means that these Eucharistic Prayers now form a stable part of the Church’s treasury of liturgical prayer.

Previously, these prayers were technically approved by various ad hoc or experimental measures, although usually with no established time limit. They had been already included in some official translations of the full Roman Missal, such as the Spanish and Italian versions.

Regarding the use of the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation, the rubric in the Latin Missal notes the following.

These prayers may be used in Masses in which the mystery of reconciliation is particularly emphasized to the faithful. These include the Mass formulas for such needs as promoting social harmony, reconciliation, justice and peace, in times of war and social unrest, for the remission of sin, for the promotion of charity, the mystery of the Holy Cross, of the Holy Eucharist, and of the Precious Blood. Also included are Masses during Lent.

Although these Eucharistic Prayers have their own proper preface, it is permissible to use them with another preface that refers in some way to the themes of penance and conversion, for example, with the prefaces of Lent.

From the aforesaid, it is thus clear that these Eucharistic Prayers may be used during Lent.

The rubrics make no distinction between weekdays and Sundays, and so there is no reason why their use would be restricted on the Lord’s Day, provided that one respects the proper prefaces that must be used on certain Lenten Sundays.

As well as the Masses suggested in the rubrics, these Eucharistic Prayers often prove useful during retreats and spiritual exercises when the time comes to foment reconciliation with God and discover his mercy.

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Follow-up: Crosses on the 14 Stations

Several readers asked further questions regarding the practice of the Via Crucis (see Feb. 19 column), such as if there were any norms regarding alternative stations and the extension of the indulgence. Some of these questions were addressed in our columns of March 1 and 15, 2005.

An Ohio reader wrote, “Each year on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, my older students present the Living Stations of the Cross for the parish. This consists of individual meditations on the 14 stations read by the pastor or a lay leader while the students silently portray the stations. I am very pleased that the students take the project seriously and they have received many compliments on their maturity and the quality of their presentation.

“My question: The cross is present for all 14 stations — would this qualify for the indulgence? One of my focuses in my ministry is to acquaint the children with traditions that have faded … introducing them to indulgences would be something new for this year.”

The Enchiridion, No. 63.2, requires 14 crosses for a legitimate Way of the Cross to be set up. But No. 63.5 grants the indulgence to those who, legitimately impeded, meditate or engage in spiritual reading on the Passion for about 15 minutes.

Any legitimate impediment is sufficient, such as not having reasonable access to a legitimate Via Crucis. For example, in one of his apostolic visits Pope John Paul II made his habitual Friday Way of the Cross in a helicopter during the trajectory from one meeting to another.

No. 63.6 says that other approved pious exercises commemorating the Passion, and divided into 14 stations, also qualify for the indulgence.

The practice described by our correspondent, and similar public Via Crucis, would fall within either of the above-mentioned categories for the sake of obtaining the plenary indulgence.

A reader from Malta asked if the Resurrection may be added as a 15th station. While this is not required, it is a possibility. The Directory for Popular Piety (No. 134) specifically states that “the Via Crucis is a pious devotion connected with the Passion of Christ; it should conclude, however, in such fashion as to leave the faithful with a sense of expectation of the resurrection in faith and hope; following the example of the Via Crucis in Jerusalem which ends with a station at the Anastasis, the celebration could end with a commemoration of the Lord’s resurrection.”

There might be days, such as Good Friday, when adding such a specific station commemorating the Resurrection could be less appropriate, due to the specific character of each moment of the Easter triduum.

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Readers may send questions to liturgy@zenit.org. Please put the word “Liturgy” in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.

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