The following comes from an Archdiocese of Washington blog post by Monsignor Charles Pope:
One of the parts of the Ordinary Form of the Mass that was “restored” from antiquity is the “Prayer of the Faithful.” However, there is (in this author’s mind) a certain disappointing quality to the intentions as they are used today. They are either overly particular and ideological or, at the other end of the spectrum, perfunctory and flat. Peter Kwasniewski, writing at New Liturgical Movement, summarizes the problem very well:
It is surely no exaggeration to say that throughout the world the quality of these intercessions has tended to be deplorable, ranging from trite and saccharine sentiments to political propaganda, from progressivist daydreams to downright heretical propositions to which no one could assent without offending God. Even when the content is doctrinally unobjectionable, all too often the literary style is dull, flaccid, rambling, or vague. … [There is] problematic content, poor writing, and [a] monotonous manner of delivery.
MUCH can be done to improve the quality of the Prayer of the Faithful, which has remained an amateur outing at best and an ideological hornet’s nest at worst.
Perhaps a little benefit can be obtained from reviewing the norms and the history of this portion of the Mass.
The General Instruction in the Roman Missal (GIRM) has this to say about the Prayer of the Faithful:
In the Prayer of the Faithful, the people respond in a certain way to the word of God which they have welcomed in faith and, exercising the office of their baptismal priesthood, offer prayers to God for the salvation of all. It is fitting that such a prayer be included, as a rule, in Masses celebrated with a congregation, so that petitions will be offered for the holy Church, for civil authorities, for those weighed down by various needs, for all men and women, and for the salvation of the whole world. As a rule, the series of intentions is to be
1. For the needs of the Church;
2. For public authorities and the salvation of the whole world;
3. For those burdened by any kind of difficulty;
4. For the local community.
History – These intentions were very common in the early Church, at about the same point in the Mass that we have them today. They followed the Homily (note that in earlier days, as a rule, the Creed was not said). All the Fathers of the Church make mention of them. In the beginning, this prayer was recited antiphonally by the priest and the assembly. Over time the deacon took a more prominent role; he announced all the intentions and then the faithful responded, Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy) or some other acclamation. You can read the Kyrie Litany of Pope Gelasius HERE.
These intercessions endured well past the close of the patristic period (until about the 9th century). Their disappearance seems to coincide with their evolution into a Kyrie Litany and their transfer to the beginning of the Mass. Here, they eventually came to be regarded as an unnecessary appendage and were phased out. In the West they were retained only on Good Friday, though they endured in certain areas longer. In the East they were never dropped. Today they have been restored to their original place in the Mass.
In the end, I think these intentions deserve better than we have given them. I realize that enthusiasts of the Traditional Latin Mass (of which I am one) may say, “Just lose them entirely.” But that is not realistic; they are here to stay, at least in our lifetime. Maybe we can do better and make use of multiple sources: ancient, Eastern, and new, though elegant.
Yes, these prayers are too often used for the agenda of those who are stridently against the teachings of the Church. And never do we hear prayers for the conversion of those outside of the Catholic Faith. Or for the souls in Purgatory. Also, no pleas for faithful men to heed the Lord’s call to the priesthood. We are in a battle against satan and his minions. Yet, the prayers of the faithful are infantile, banal and often downright pelagian.
At our parish we often pray for inactive Catholics to return and we ALWAYS pray for vocations!
Glad to hear it. We need strong and faithful men to heed the Lord’s call to the priesthood.
Two instances of insanity in the bidding prayers at Mass. Many years ago, over 40 for sure, the intention was “For those who suffer from dish pan hands”. At another parish where the pastor was a red hot liberation theology follower, the assistant priest added a prayer for President Reagan, as he was about to be inaugurated, and was chastised because he did not pray for Martin Luther King. Everyone knows one is supposed to pray for the Pope, as well as the leader of a nation. So much for these prayers which have become silly and insipid.
Why are they here to stay? Just because you say so, Father, means nothing.
In fact, that is always what liberal victors say after destroying tradition, “our victory is eternal, it can never be changed”. In fact, this is often said about Pope Francis, that he is making changes that “will never be undone”. Fools.
The N.O. and its adherents phony claims to “returning to antiquity” will not last. Why? Because these claims are false. Further, the “return” is itself nothing more than a blank slate for the “presider” to host a “meal” or a “celebratory party”.
In this way, you get the Mass of the Seattle Seahawks. See the article, “Behold, the Tabernacle of Seattle Seahawks 12” here: htttp://voxcantor.blogspot.com/2015/02/behold-tabernacle-of-seattle-seahawks-12.html.
This sacrilege is what you get by destroying Tradition. Msgr. Pope may say some orthodox things, but he is fully in the camp of Cardinal Wuerl, his boss. And, his boss is nothing more than a paper hanger for the blasphemy of the “Seattle Seahawks” Mass. Pope needs to resign and find himself a Traditional home. Your article shows that you are drinking the Kool-Aid Father. Run away.
As a lector with 40 years experience in my parish, let me count the ways:
1. The petitions are too often written by well-meaning people who don’t know how to write good English. “Let us pray for those who suffers from…”
2. They are too long-winded. I find myself out of breath at the end of run-on sentences that would daunt a German philosopher.
3. Names of parishioners are too often scrawled in half-sideways at the last minute in so spidery a hand that one can’t tell whether Mrwther Prxtlizo is dead, sick or just giving thanks. Woe betide the lector who guesses wrong or mispronounces!
The solution is to limit each list to ONE of each of the four categories above, plus prayers for the deceased or sick, and have ONE person approved by the pastor (who reviews them before hand) in charge of preparation.
Ah yes–the bilingual secretary who types these things up. Bless your heart, you are trying. And you are needed in the community with two languages and Masses in both. But please have someone with grammar and spelling skills review wording in the language you are not as proficient in.
And please please please get the correct name for who that particular Mass is being offered for. And I’m not just talking spelling or pronunciation.
….. language you are not as proficient in. I agree! Someone once said, Churchill I believe, ending a sentence in a preposition is something up with which I will not put.
That’s pretty good, Bob One!
No, “Tom Byrne,” the answer is to drop the Petitions. This part of the new mass is made up, is not historical, and helps to cement a false sense to the laity of its “power”.
Have you seen the absolutely loony part of many N.O. masses where the priest tells all the congregation to raise their right hands to “bless” whatever? This is what you are doing with the petitions. Msgr. Pope is wrong to say that this aspect of the mass is “forever”.
Dropping PRAYER to God ?
The Laity should stop petitioning God when in need ?
Excellent! You should have written the article!
Almost every time the petitions drift off to “that they may….” you know trouble is on the way. There will usually be a long description not simply to petition God “We pray for the leaders of our government…” but what will follow is a detailed description of how we want God to carry this out: “that they may…[laundry list of usually politically-tinged “suggestions” for how God should make these people behave].
Part of the problem might be the “canned” requests put out by the producers of missaletes. Ones that come from the people may have literary problems, but at least they are spontaneous and sincere. I doubt the earlier Christians worded their concerns any better. Some instruction from the altar or at least in the bulletin about offering petitions could help. I’m happy to pray for someone’s sick relative, but I don’t need to hear all about the nature of his illness. And so forth.
Excellent. You nailed it. But where are some good examples? Wouldn’t the article be much stronger with 10 good intentions at the end?
We often use a text,”Intercessions for Mass”,written by a cloistered Carmel it nun,Mary Grace Melcher.Here are three examples….1)for God’s holy ministers and priests,who bear God’s trust throughout the church,that He may come to their defense whenever they are spoken against…..2 )for the Church, that her teaching on the sanctity of marriage in an age of hardness of heart may be clear and strong…3)that Christian political leaders may make their conduct upright,just,and irreproachable,taking the message of the Gospel as truly the Word of God and living by it…
We use the book for our weekday Masses.Yes,some of the prayers are a bit longer than usual,but in our parish which is 99% Filipino, and at our daily 9am Mass which draws about 80 folks,the prayers are well received.
You get 80 people at daily mass? Wow, that’s awesome!
When I was in the seminary in Rome, I would attend the papal Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica as often as possible. At these Masses, the prayers of the faithful were sung, and that included the responses by the congregation. Only one time here in the States did I witness sung biding prayers.
The Lutheran equivalent of the prayers of the faithful were sung at every mass when I was in college. And boy, they made sure you knew how to sing the response, including overlapping the word “Lord” between the deacon singing “Let us pray to the Lord”, and the congregation singing “Lord have mercy”.
I have seen/heard those on YouTube. Very beautiful. Even when the words are in another language. I can hear it in my head now!
Ours are made by a Deacon in the Bishop’s office and they always follow the GIRM, as in the 4 categories above.
Once traveling outside our diocese a priest had the lector read a prayer for Pres. Obama (fair enough, he needs our prayers for conversion) but they didn’t stop there. We were asked to pray that his agenda comes to fruition! Gulp!
I think my family had one communal coughing jag in response!
The ‘prayers of the faithful’ should be pertinent to what is happening in the world.
General intercessions were called “preces” in the traditional Roman Breviary: they were a set formula of usually 20 verses recited at Lauds and Vespers (only), such as for example, “Fiat misericordia tua, Domine,…Oremus pro beatissimo Papa nostro, N…; Oremus pro benefactoribus nostris..(etc)” (“Show us your mercy, O Lord; Let us pray for our most Holy Father, N; Let us pray for our benefactors…”) (1910 P. S Pius X breviary).
They have never been exactly documented to have been part of the Roman Mass: especially not the contemporary free-form extemporaneous versions, which obviously by their nature lend themselves to abuse. (Compare them with the formulaic traditional Good Friday petitions, for example, which were quite solemne and remained unchanged for decades.)
This innovation was also matter-of-factly announced both in the ap. constitution Missale Romanum (Apr. 3, 1969) by Paul VI, as part of the “revision of the Mass” (MR’s language) and also in Sacro. Concilium (n. 53); but no one seems to know the historical liturgical basis for them, if any (except 1. a vague reference to 1 Tim 2:1-2: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings, and all those who are in high positions.”): Paul isn’t specifically speaking of the liturgy in this passage. And 2. Justin Martyr (d 160 AD) has a similar reference (Apologia, n. 67), but it is very vague: “[On Sunday after reading the scriptures] We all stand together and offer prayers.” Does this mean everyone freely composed and vocalized their prayers: or more likely the episcopos or presbyteros led the congregation?
St. Pius X’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, divine Spirit of light and love. I consecrate to You my understanding, my heart and my will, my whole being for time and for eternity.
May my understanding be always submissive to Your heavenly inspirations and to the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, of which You are the infallible Guide.
May my heart be ever inflamed with love of God and of my neighbour; may my will be ever conformed to the divine Will, and may my whole life be a faithful imitation of the life and virtues of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and You, Holy Spirit, be honor and glory forever. Amen.