The Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation

The two reconciliation prayers lead us more deeply into the work of the Trinity

By Father Randy Stice

In 1975, the Church celebrated a Holy Year with two main themes: renewal and reconciliation. Pope St. Paul VI wanted these two themes to “resound repeatedly in liturgical celebrations, especially in the sacrifice of the Mass, including the Eucharistic Prayers.” For this reason, two Eucharistic Prayers were prepared that “shed light on aspects of reconciliation, insofar as they may be the object of thanksgiving” 1: Eucharistic Prayers I and II for Reconciliation in our current Missal. The Church recommends using these two Eucharistic Prayers during Lent. Since you are likely to hear them during Lent, in this column we will explore the two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation, referred to here as R1 and R2.

I want to begin by reviewing the structure of the Eucharistic Prayer. Following the Holy, Holy, Holy, there is a transition to the epiclesis, the invocation of the Holy Spirit on the gifts of bread and wine. This is followed by the institution narrative, by which the bread and wine are consecrated, transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ. Then comes the memorial (anamnesis), the remembrance of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, and the offering (oblation), in which the Church “presents to the Father the offering of his Son which reconciles us with him.” 2 Next is a series of intercessions for the Church and the world, and then the concluding Trinitarian doxology.

In R1 and R2, each of these sections includes references to reconciliation. In the transition from the Holy, Holy, Holy, we praise God, who from the beginning of the world is “ceaselessly at work so that the human race may become holy, just as you yourself are holy” (R1). Christ “is the Word that brings salvation, the hand you extend to sinners, the way by which your peace is offered to us” (R2). God in mercy pursued us, for “when we ourselves had turned away from You on account of our sins, You brought us back to be reconciled, O Lord, so that, converted at last to You, we might love one another through Your Son” (R2). Only when we are reconciled to God can we truly be reconciled with one another.

The epiclesis begins by recalling that in the Mass we are “celebrating the reconciliation Christ has brought us” (R2). It acknowledges that “though we once were lost and could not approach you, you loved us with the greatest love” (R1). The institution narrative begins in a similar fashion, emphasizing that Christ celebrated the Last Supper “when about to give His life to set us free” (R2). The introduction to Christ’s words over the chalice speaks of mercy and reconciliation: “knowing that He was about to reconcile all things in Himself through his blood to be shed on the cross” (R1), He “took the chalice of blessing in his hands, confessing your mercy” (R2).

The memorial (anamnesis) remembers “Jesus Christ, who is our Passover and our surest peace” (R1), “left us this pledge of His love” (R2). The offering (oblation) presents to “our faithful and merciful God, this sacrificial Victim who reconciles to You the human race” (R1). Furthermore, we are only offering “what You have bestowed on us, the sacrifice of perfect reconciliation” (R2).

The intercessions that follow speak of healing, peace, and unity.  The first intercession highlights the work of the Holy Spirit. God is asked in R1 to “grant that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, as they partake of this one Bread and one Chalice, they may be gathered into one Body in Christ, who heals every division.” The petition in R2 asks the Lord “in this saving banquet graciously to endow us with his very Spirit, who takes away everything that estranges us from one another.” Then we pray that God would make the Church “a sign of unity and an instrument of your peace among all people” (R2), working “together for the coming of your Kingdom” (R1).

Finally, these prayers look ahead to that time “when we stand before you, Saints among the Saints in the halls of heaven” (R1). There, “freed at last from the wound of corruption and made fully into a new creation” (R1), we and all those who have “died in your friendship” will share in “the unending banquet of unity in a new heaven and a new earth, where the fullness of your peace will shine forth in Christ Jesus our Lord” (R2). The doxology gives glory and honor to the Father through, with, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, and is affirmed by the assembly’s Amen.

The Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation lead us more deeply into the work of the Trinity in bringing about our reconciliation with God and with one another. The Father reaches out and brings us back to be reconciled with Him. Through Christ, God’s peace is offered to us, and through Him we love one another. The Holy Spirit heals every division and takes away everything that separates us from one another. Familiarity with these Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation can deepen our experience of Lent as “a time of grace and reconciliation.” 3

1 Documents on the Liturgy, No. 2024.
2 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1354.
3 Roman Missal, third edition, Preface, Eucharistic Prayer I for Reconciliation.


Father Randy Stice is director of the diocesan Office of Worship and Liturgy. He can be reached at

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