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Question. What is the guideline to be used in adding or mentioning names like that of the saint, deceased, and living person in eucharistic prayers?

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Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: The first three Eucharistic Prayers each include an opportunity to mention particular names of either the faithful or the deceased, namely at the Memento’s(“Remember, Lord …”). When should the priest exercise these opportunities? Is it permissible for one to omit the names in the Roman Canon? Also, the Eucharistic Prayers wonderfully recall the lives of the saints in heaven. Occasionally, a priest would add the name of the saint whose feast day we might be celebrating and/or the names of the saints who founded the religious order which the priest belongs to (if he is religious). While this seems fitting, is this proper (especially when Eucharistic Prayer III explicitly gives the option of adding the name of “the saint of the day or the patron saint” while no other Eucharistic Prayer gives this option)? — J.G., Lewisville, Texas

A: As a general principle the names of the deceased, along with the specific formulas involved, are remembered in the Eucharistic Prayers only when there is a specific reason for doing so. This is, above all, the funeral Mass or a significant anniversary of death.

On other occasions, if the Mass is being offered up for the soul of a deceased person, the name is best mentioned at the beginning of Mass or during the prayer of the faithful. Specific names of the deceased should not be habitually mentioned during the Eucharistic Prayer.

A similar criterion applies for the living. With the exception of the pope and bishop, living people are mentioned only on rare occasions. For example, on the occasion of a baptism the godparents are mentioned at the Memento (“Remember Lord …”) while adult neophytes are mentioned at the moment of the Hanc Igitur (“Father, accept this offering …”). Neophytes are usually recalled collectively at this moment during the Easter octave.

Newlyweds are also named in a special Hanc Igitur and there are similar formulas for other occasions such as confirmation and ordination, although not all have the possibility of mentioning particular names. These formulas are usually found in the ritual for each sacrament rather than the order of Mass.

Some bishops’ conferences have also composed similar interventions for the other Eucharistic Prayers.

Regarding mentioning the saints, each Eucharistic Prayer has its own characteristics and these must be respected. Before Pope John XXIII added St. Joseph, the Roman Canon traditionally listed 24 saints (12 apostles and 12 martyrs) in two separate groups. This list may now be shortened to seven by omitting the saints following St. Andrew in the first group and after St. Barnabas in the second.

The full list is:

First: Peter and Paul, Andrew, (James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude [apostles], Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, [5 Popes] Cyprian [bishop of Carthage], Lawrence [deacon], Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian [5 laymen]).

Second: John the Baptist, Stephen [deacon protomartyr], Matthias, Barnabas [apostles], (Ignatius [bishop of Antioch], Alexander [Pope], Marcellinus [priest, Peter [exorcist], Felicity, Perpetua [2 married laywomen of Carthage], Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia [4 virgins], Anastasia [laywoman of Sirmium]).

These lists thus represent the whole Church united in offering the most holy sacrifice of the altar insofar as Christians from all strands have been deemed worthy of martyrdom, the ultimate sacrifice for Christ. In this way the use of the full list, at least occasionally, can be very useful, among other messages, in illustrating the universal call to holiness.

Of the other prayers, only Eucharistic Prayer III and the Eucharistic prayers for various needs have the possibility of adding the name of the patron saint of the church or the saint of the day. In this case it is probably a legitimate custom for a religious priest to mention the name of his founder, especially if celebrating in a church administered by his community.

It is not legitimate, however, for any priest to add the names of saints if this possibility is not foreseen in the prayer itself. This means that a priest using the Roman Canon may invoke the list of seven saints or all 24 but may not add any other names not included in this list. Likewise, he may not insert any saint’s names in Eucharistic Prayers II or IV, or the Eucharistic Prayers for reconciliation.

In short, if he desires to mention a patron saint, then he must choose the third anaphora, or, if the occasion warrants it, one of the prayers for various needs.