Eucharistic Prayers for Children, Reconciliation, and various Needs and Occasions

Many people, if asked, would say that there are four different eucharistic prayers which can be used in the celebration of Mass. Actually, there are a total of ten which are approved for use!
Appart from Eucharistic Prayers I to IV there are three eucharistic prayers for children, two for reconciliation and one called “Eucharistic Prayer for Masses for Various Needs and Occasions”.
In 1973 Pope Paul VI requested the Congregation for Divine Worship to prepare two or three eucharistic prayers for use at liturgies with children and also one that could be used during the Holy Year of 1975. In October 1974 the new prayers were approved – three for children’s Masses and two for the Holy Year on the theme of reconciliation. These prayers were translated into the vernacular and authorised for experimental use for a period of three years. In 1977 this authorisation was extended for a further three years and in 1980 permission was given for a further indefinite period.
The three Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children are restricted to Masses which are celebrated with children only or where the majority of participants are children. Because they are intended to lead pre-adolescents to the celebration of Mass with adults, these prayers for children are both like and unlike the other prayers. All of the elements regarded as integral for a eucharistic prayer are present and the structure is the same as that of Eucharistic Prayers I to IV. The wording of the introductory dialogue, the institution narrative and the closing doxology is identical to that of the adult prayers but all other elements are expressed in language more appropriate for children. Prayers II and III also include responses that are repeated during the prayer to enhance participation.
It’s a pity that the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses of Reconciliation aren’t heard more often. The wording of these prayers is very moving and they would be most appropriate for any Mass where the focus of the readings or the liturgical season or the particular celebration is on forgiveness, mercy and justice.
The Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs and Occasions was composed in Switzerland in Italian, French and German versions more than twenty years ago. A Latin typical edition of the prayer was issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the early 1990s and an English translation prepared and approved in 1995.
This eucharistic prayer is in fact four prayers in one, having four different prefaces and four corresponding sections in the second half of the prayer. Copies of the prayer were sent to every diocese and religious order in 1995 and the text is included in The Liturgical Commission’s Daily Mass Book. The language of these prayers speaks to people in a fresh, contemporary way:
“As once he did for his disciples,Christ now opens the scriptures for usand breaks the bread.”
“Keep your Church alert in faith to the signs of the timesand eager to accept the challenge of the gospel.”The reason for departing from the Roman tradition of using only one eucharistic prayer is best expressed in the words of the Consilium:“To consider the variety of anaphoras in the tradition of the universal Church is to realise that one alone cannot contain everything. In adding new anaphoras to the Roman Canon, the Church's intent is to enrich the Roman liturgy pastorally, spiritually, and liturgically”.

Elizabeth Harrington