The Name of St. Joseph

The excellent blog New Liturgical Movement reports that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has approved the addition of St. Joseph’s name to the other Eucharistic Prayers. This was first approved earlier this year by Pope Benedict XVI (whose baptismal name is Joseph), but not immediately promulgated, so Pope Francis has confirmed and now had promulgated Pope Benedict’s decision.

“The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities”, by the famous Spanish baroque painter, Murillo. It depicts vertically the Most Holy Trinity, and horizontally the “trinity” of the Holy Family. With the addition of St. Joseph’s name extended to the other main Eucharistic Prayers, the Holy Family or “earthly trinity” will now be fully present in the words of the Mass.

Up until the liturgical changes that came in the years following the Second Vatican Council, there was only one Eucharistic Prayer in use – the first one, known as the Roman Canon. And that prayer did not have the name of St. Joseph in it until Blessed Pope John XXIII added it in 1962. In fact, many liturgical publishers had already printed new books just before Pope John made known this decision, so in many places priests had to write St. Joseph’s name into the books so that they wouldn’t forget.

In the years following the Second Vatican Council the changes to the external form of the Mass came about, including the addition of initially three more Eucharistic Prayers, followed not too many years afterwards with the addition of several more (in an appendix to the Missal). In many places, the common practice has become to use the first three of the main Eucharistic Prayers on a regular basis – often the shorter Eucharistic Prayer II on weekdays, with Prayers III or, less frequently, I, being used on Sundays and Holy Days. The use of Eucharistic Prayer IV and the others that are in the appendix is far less widespread, as far as I have seen and heard in my travels.

The decree approved by Pope Francis, and promulgated by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, now indicates that St. Joseph’s name be added to the three other main Eucharistic Prayers. It does not extend this privilege to the additional Prayers in the appendix, and I’m not exactly sure why this is the case – it could well be that their use has not been extended universally, or perhaps there are plans eventually to do away with them. Maybe some clarification will come about this with time.

It will surely take some time for this news to become known and for priests to get used to adding his name in. (Also, we don’t yet know when this new rule actually comes into effect, as Fr. Pius, OP wisely points out.) So don’t be shocked if you don’t start hearing it right away, or even if in one parish you hear it but in another you don’t. Just as many priests had to write in St. Joseph’s name in those old books, so now we are in a similar situation, having just recently gotten new liturgical books due to the translation change, and now this additional change has come down. Perhaps the publishers will print special decals – that would be nice. Who knows. But, it will take some time.

St. Joseph, guardian and protector of the Universal Church, pray for us!


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