The earliest manuscripts we have of Catholic liturgical books (from the mid 600s) include the entirety of what we consider now “Eucharistic Prayer I” and is also known as the “Roman Canon.” There are minor variations across these Missals (including a line of prayer for the Emperor!), but they are essentially as we have it today. In the late 1960s and early 1970s additional Eucharistic Prayers were introduced into the Latin Rite. These Eucharistic Prayers are the work of a Vatican Committee formed in the 1960s and 1970s and are based on some historical texts and/or inspired by a particular biblical theme. In each of the Eucharistic Prayers there are some major sequences, as outlined in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal as follows:
Thanksgiving (expressed especially in the Preface): In which the priest, in the name of the entire holy people, glorifies God the Father and gives thanks for the whole work of salvation or for some special aspect of it that corresponds to the day, festivity, or season.
Acclamation: In which the whole congregation, joining with the heavenly powers, sings the Sanctus. This acclamation, which is part of the Eucharistic Prayer itself, is sung or said by all the people with the priest.
Epiclesis: In which, by means of particular invocations, the Church implores the power of the Holy Spirit that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated, that is, become Christ’s Body and Blood, and that the spotless Victim to be received in Communion be for the salvation of those who will partake of it.
Institution narrative and consecration: In which, by means of words and actions of Christ, the Sacrifice is carried out which Christ himself instituted at the Last Supper, when he offered his Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine, gave them to his Apostles to eat and drink, and left them the command to perpetuate this same mystery.
Anamnesis: In which the Church, fulfilling the command that she received from Christ the Lord through the Apostles, keeps the memorial of Christ, recalling especially his blessed Passion, glorious Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven.
Offering: By which, in this very memorial, the Church and in particular the Church here and now gathered, offers in the Holy Spirit the spotless Victim to the Father. The Church’s intention, however, is that the faithful not only offer this spotless Victim but also learn to offer themselves, and so day by day to be consummated, through Christ the Mediator, into unity with God and with each other, so that at last God may be all in all.
Intercessions: By which expression is given to the fact that the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the entire Church, of heaven as well as of earth, and that the offering is made for her and for all her members, living and dead, who have been called to participate in the redemption and the salvation purchased by Christ’s Body and Blood.
Final doxology: By which the glorification of God is expressed and which is confirmed and concluded by the people’s acclamation, Amen.
As we move forward, I will be looking at different aspects of the Eucharistic Prayer in particular, moving chronologically, and cursorily, through them. All in all, it is most important that, during this time we unite ourselves to the prayer of Christ and the Church and so that we might offer ourselves as Christ does every time the Mass is celebrated.
For Further Study See:
The Canon of the Mass
St. Ambrose of Milan, de Mysteriis, chapter 8ff
Bobbio Missal. World Digital Library
Gelasian Sacramentary. Manuscript Reg.Lat.316
Missale Gothicum. Manuscript Reg.Lat 317