The prayers we say in church are very ancient!
There are four main prayers for Mass, also called “Eucharistic Prayers.” The second one is the shorter of the Eucharistic prayers and, perhaps, the more familiar to mass goers. Because of his brevity, it is said mostly on weekdays.
- This Eucharistic prayer is from a family of liturgies connected with the city of Antioch, the capital or early Christians. The first Bishop of Antioch was St. Peter himself. There, the followers of Jesus were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).
- Eucharistic prayer II was written down about the year 220 by a Roman priest named St. Hippolytus as part of a work called Apostolic tradition, a work re-discovered in the XIX century.
- St. Hippolytus was martyred in Rome in 235 A. D. He had been a disciple of St. Irenaeus, the great bishop of Lyon (+202). St. Irenaeus had been schooled by St. Polycarp (+167), the bishop martyr of Smyrna whom St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote one of his letters in 110 A. D. As a child, St. Polycarp knew St. John, the Apostle.
- The II Eucharistic prayer reflects the wording and theology of the Gospel of John. Especially the line, “Your Word through whom you made all things” in reference to John 1:3 and “At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his Passion,” since this willingness of Jesus to die on the cross is characteristic of the gospel of John.
With this second Eucharistic prayer we can appreciate the antiquity of the Mass. Every time you hear the second Eucharistic prayer, just remember that you are listening to echoes of a Mass celebrated in Rome in the year 220 A. D.
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