In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I have a question about the use of the proper Prefaces provided for the Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions (EPVN&O). Each of the four EPVN&Os has been provided with proper Prefaces unique to each EP. Yet, it is unclear whether or not the four EPVN&Os may be used with other Prefaces as we find with other Eucharistic Prayers having proper Prefaces (e.g., EPII, Reconciliation I and II).

EPII and Reconciliation I and II all have notations in the Roman Missal  stating, “Although these Eucharistic Prayers have been provided with a proper Preface, they may also be used with other Prefaces.”

EP IV has a notation (#116) stating that “it is not permitted to change the Preface of this Eucharistic Prayer because of the structure of the Prayer itself, which presents a summary of the history of salvation.”

Unfortunately, there is no helpful notation or governing rubric provided for EPVN&Os. The absence of any guiding rubric for EPVN&Os leaves open the possibility that their proper Prefaces may be interchanged with other Prefaces. Am I interpreting this correctly?

Thank you for your help.


A: On p. 21 of my book Ars Celebrandi, I state about this matter, “The prefaces are invariable.” In a footnote I cite the clarity of the intro to the prayers for reconciliation, but I did not refer to the clarity of the intro to EPIV.

So, I admit, it’s ambiguous. But I still conclude they are meant to be invariable. 

Even if a priest thinks he has implied permission to change them out, the four prefaces were carefully composed to integrate into the special characteristics of each version of that eucharistic prayer. At least for the sake of internal coherence, I think we owe the prayers the prefaces they provide.