Celebrant's decision to use particular Eucharistic Prayer during mass


As I am sure is the case in many dioceses and eparchies, there are parishes where, in addition to the pastor, there are priests in residence, retired priests or assisting clergy who celebrate masses during the week. I notice in some parishes that the pastor might only use Eucharistic Prayer 2 not only during weekday masses, but every Sunday mass he celebrates. Certain priests in residence do exactly as he does, but others celebrate mass–depending on the day–Eucharistic Prayer 1 or 3, or Eucharistic prayers for various needs and purposes. Is there any canon law that restricts a priest from celebrating in a manner different than the pastor’s practice or directive (if one)? Along the same lines, is it illicit to always say, regardless of day or solemnity/feast occasion, the same Eucharistic Prayer 2 every mass the pastor or priest celebrates?


This is not a matter of canon law. The GIRM provides the guidelines for the Liturgy. For the Eucharistic Prayer, the following paragraphs are contained in the GIRM.

The celebrant of the Mass determines which option to use.

  1. The numerous Prefaces with which the Roman Missal is endowed have as their purpose to bring out more fully the motives for thanksgiving within the Eucharistic Prayer and to set out more clearly the different facets of the mystery of salvation.

  2. The choice between the Eucharistic Prayers found in the Order of Mass is suitably guided by the following norms:

a) Eucharistic Prayer I, or the Roman Canon, which may always be used, is especially suited for use on days to which a proper text for the Communicantes (In communion with those whose memory we venerate) is assigned or in Masses endowed with a proper form of the Hanc igitur (Therefore, Lord, we pray) and also in the celebrations of the Apostles and of the Saints mentioned in the Prayer itself; likewise it is especially suited for use on Sundays, unless for pastoral reasons Eucharistic Prayer III is preferred.

b) Eucharistic Prayer II, on account of its particular features, is more appropriately used on weekdays or in special circumstances. Although it is provided with its own Preface, it may also be used with other Prefaces, especially those that sum up the mystery of salvation, for example, the Common Prefaces. When Mass is celebrated for a particular deceased person, the special formula given may be used at the proper point, namely, before the part Remember also our brothers and sisters.

c) Eucharistic Prayer III may be said with any Preface. Its use should be preferred on Sundays and festive days. If, however, this Eucharistic Prayer is used in Masses for the Dead, the special formula for a deceased person may be used, to be included at the proper place, namely after the words: in your compassion, O merciful Father, gather to yourself all your children scattered throughout the world.

d) Eucharistic Prayer IV has an invariable Preface and gives a fuller summary of salvation history. It may be used when a Mass has no Preface of its own and on Sundays in Ordinary Time. On account of its structure, no special formula for a deceased person may be inserted into this prayer.


But what it really comes down to in practice is that any one of them can be used at any time for any reason. And that is usually what happens.


Thus, it is purely a matter of what the Celebrant desires, even if it means the priest uses only one of the available Eucharistic prayers for every mass he ever says. :frowning: I did not know that.


Essentially yes. This is the fact of the matter.


I’ve taken the liberty of underlining what I think is the heart of your question.

Actually, there is a law, but it says the opposite of what you’re asking. The Church has clarified many times over the years, that whenever (equal) options are given in the texts, it is the right of the celebrant to choose from among the available options. It’s the celebrant’s right. Parish policy, the pastor’s policy/wishes, requests from the congregation, etc. etc, cannot compel a priest to choose a particular option. Not even the local bishop has the authority to require a priest to make a certain choice—the reasoning here is that when the Church (as a whole) gives the priest the authority to make a choice, that choice cannot be taken away from him by a lesser authority.

To your final question, yes, a priest may choose to use Eucharistic Prayer 2 at every Mass. It might not be a “good” choice. It might not be a wise choice. Nevertheless, the option of using EP2 is always available for the celebrant to choose, at any Mass.


I very much appreciate all of the informative replies here today. Blessings to all! :slight_smile:


I sometimes find that the priest is using a prayer other than one of the four in my missal.

Where can the other approved prayers be found?


I don’t know what kind of missal you have, but I have the other six possible eucharistic prayers a priest can use in my Saint Joseph’s missal.


Here’s one link to the Eucharistic Prayer for Masses for Various Needs and Occasions (I - IV), also known as the “Swiss Synod Eucharistic Prayers”:



And links to the other EPs can be found at the bottom of that page. :thumbsup:


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