What congregations say and hear at Mass will change with the new English translation of the Roman Missal, but the meaning of what one Catholic theologian calls the greatest prayer of the Church is unchanged.
The Eucharistic Prayer, heard in the middle of every liturgy around the world, recalls the saving mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection and is the highest point of every Mass, says Msgr. Joseph DeGrocco, professor of liturgy and director of liturgical formation at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y.
The new translation does not change what's happening during the Mass, especially during the consecration, he says. It just brings the words said closer to the literal Latin translation.
"We believe that when the Church prays the Eucharistic Prayer, that mystery is actually made present," Msgr. DeGrocco says. "Within that prayer, as part of that making present the mystery, the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ."
Various forms of the Eucharistic Prayer will continue to be used throughout the year, depending on liturgical seasons and special occasions, Msgr. DeGrocco says. Each form expresses the essential beliefs of the Catholic Church, but emphasizes different aspects of the theology, he says.
In addition to four principal Eucharistic Prayers, Eucharistic Prayer forms exist for Masses of reconciliation and Masses for various needs and occasions.