Book Review: Intercessions for Mass

Intercessions for Mass. By Mary Grace Melcher, OCD. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2013. Pp. 415. $39.95 (paper).

This is a handy book for anyone who needs to put together intercessions for a liturgy. In this book, Mary Grace Melcher’s provides petitions for every day of the liturgical year following the Roman lectionary’s cycle of readings. Each day’s intercessions are a reflection on the season and the readings. In the first part of her book, M. provides intersessions for the Proper of Time. This includes unique petitions for every Sunday in Year A, B, and C, as well as solemnities and feasts. This is followed by intercessions for weekdays. What is remarkable is that M. gives unique petitions for every weekday of both Year 1 and Year 2 in Ordinary Time. Following her section on the Proper of Time, M. provides intercessions for the Proper of Saints. This is divided into two parts, those for saints and those for national holidays. In the part on the saints, M. provides intercessions for the major feasts and memorials on the general Roman calendar. In the part on national holidays, M. gives petitions for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving Day.

M.’s books provides the most comprehensive set of intercessions I have seen. What is wonderful about these petitions is their connection to the readings of the day. Because of this, M.’s book is perfectly suited for use by those writing intercessions for a Catholic Mass, but they could easily be adapted for a non-Eucharistic or non-Catholic setting. For this reason, a scriptural index in the back of the book would have been a wonderful addition. However, in its absence, one only has to copy the index of the Roman lectionary and use it for reference purposes. What is surprisingly absent from each set of intercessions is an introduction to the petitions and a closing prayer by the celebrant. The petitions themselves are generally well written; however, at times the petitions are long, disjointed, and not conducive to a standard response by the people. Even when this is the case, only slight modifications are required. Regardless of its limitations, M.’s book is a helpful source for petitions and a must have on any intercession writer’s shelf. M. has provided a wonderful resource for those, like myself, who struggle at times to think of petitions week after week.

Nathan P. Chase is a M.A. Liturgical Studies and M.A. Systematics student at Saint John’s University School of Theology·Seminary, Collegeville, MN.

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3 comments

  1. I too, found some of the petitions a bit long for a large assembly. In addition, it would have been nice to have some consistency in the style of the petitions (i.e. within a set, all petitions use the “for….that…” or simply the “that…”, or just the “for….”) – but that’s a personal preference.

    I wonder, though, whether these would work well for smaller, more intimate celebrations of the Eucharist. I have been to celebrations in small communities, where the petitions were extempore and thus tended to be quite long and wordy. For some reason, though, it seemed to ‘fit’ in that context.

  2. This is a good resource which I consult often in crafting our intercessions. The language can be very descriptive and powerful – just today, one read as “John the Baptist, the thundering prophet of Advent, crying out to secular society to make straight the way for the Lord.” As with any collection, adaptations must be made by the local community. Some are rather lengthy, and some are very scripturally dense which could make comprehension difficult for the assembly (though that fits with the convoluted language in RM3)

    The exclusion of introductory lines and concluding prayers is not a big issue for me. I often will pull those from Paul Turner’s fine Pastoral Companion to the RM or another LitPress source, Intercessions for a Christian People.

    Already I have too many resources for the Universal Prayers, but this particular volume has been a good addition for me.

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