Hail Mary at Mass?

As the Catholic Herald reports, Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton has written his clergy, “Questions come up again and again about the inclusion of Marian prayers with the Prayers of the Faithful. There should be no Marian prayer at this point.” But Professor David Fagerberg of Notre Dame University questions whether national practices can make room for devotional customs.

Read it here: “Bishop urges priests to drop the Hail Mary from Masses.”

 

 

62 comments

  1. Well, that postconciliar innovation arose in England, so it’s interesting to see it corrected there, finally. In the USA, priests who would like to include Marian intercession at the end of the POTF have learned to do in a way (by a more elliptical, third-person reference) that is more consistent with the nature of the orations of the Mass.

  2. The Roman Rite does not, in fact, envisage the inclusion of devotional prayers in the Prayer of the Faithful.

    True!

    Properly understood, a set of prayers directed to the Father, through the Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit, contains no obvious place for prayers to the saints.

    Not so clearly true.

    One could for instance adapt as an invocation “for the local community” (GIRM 70) the text from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom:

    Remembering our most holy, most pure, most-blessed and glorious Lady, the Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and one another, and our whole life, to Christ, our God.

    Presumably other ways could be found to include the saints in the Prayers of the Faithful in a way that respects the structure of that part of the liturgy (as inserting a “Hail Mary” there does not.)

    1. Well, that is not a prayer *to* the saints, but a third-person reference.

      There are very limited direct prayers to saints on occasion in the Mass: in the Litany of the Saints very directly (but subordinated to, and bracketed within, prayers to the Holy Trinity), in the Confiteor (where even the rest of the faithful are asked, but again, it’s subordinated), and certain patronal propers. Those have a long history.

      The innovation of inserting the Ave into the Mass at the POTF lacks such antiquity. And the reported reasoning behind the innovation was specious (concern that the faithful, no longer praying the Rosary during the Mass, might forget the Ave).

  3. Maybe I’m just (liturgically) unprincipled, but this is a custom that doesn’t trouble me at all. The Byzantine Liturgy even includes a hymn to the Mother of God that is sung during the quite recitation of the second part of the Eucharistic Prayer:

    It is fitting and right to call you blessed, O Theotokos: you are ever-blessed and all blameless and the Mother of our God. Higher in honor than the Cherubim and more glorious without compare than the Seraphim, you gave birth to God the Word in virginity. You are truly Mother of God: you do we exalt.

    Liturgy is not chemistry. All sorts of “impurities” can creep in without messing up the experiment.

    1. In practice, I only am troubled by it when it’s promoted by someone who presents him or her self as Do The Red Say The Black sort and who lacks self-awareness, shall we say…. I agree that tolerable impurities can arise from specious reasons. I just prefer the speciousness of the reasons to be validated.

  4. With great respect for our Orthodox brethren and the liturgy of St John Chrysostom, the Roman rite and its attendant theology are not the liturgy of St John Chrysostom.
    The mass is totally about the Most Holy Trinity, and not in any way directed to any saint, not even the BVM. This is why addressing any of them at mass is neither sound nor fitting. It isn’t as though the BVM and other saints are lacking for (appropriate) attention from the faithful, is it? Manifold are those who talk more to the BVM or their favourite saint than they do to God. We are in far greater danger from those who would have Mary made out to be co-redemptrix than from forgetting how to say an Ave. So far as I know (and I stand to be corrected), the only liturgy in which saints are addressed is the Easter Vigil.

    1. If you are speaking of the Litany of the Saints, a form is required at ordinations, and is suggested, in an abbreviated way, for the procession to the font for baptisms. I believe it’s also a long-standing tradition for the Litany to be sung during processions, such as on the First Sunday of Lent (I’ve even had a bride request it for her procession down the aisle… pretty awesome, to be invoking the saints by name to walk with her and her husband throughout their marriage).

      Further, for a Saint’s feast day, the collect almost always asks for his/her intercession.

      Is it not also traditional to sing a votive Marian antiphon at the conclusion of Vespers?

      Saints are even named in the Eucharistic Prayer… seems like it’s long-established that they are very much a part of our liturgies.

    2. Well, any time there is a baptism at Mass the saints are invoked. Also, I believe the Ave is one of the propers (maybe the offertory?) on at least one Marian feast. Masses also often end with the Regina Caeli or Salve Regina or Angelus. Not an ‘official”part of the liturgy, I know, but close enough.

      I really don’t get how the invocation of the saints in any way detracts from the Trinitarian character of the Mass. If the totus Christus includes both head and members, then calling up the Church Triumphant in our liturgy seems only fitting. At least in the Anglo Saxon world there hardly seems a danger these days of overemphasizing the saints.

      1. Yes, Ave Maria pops up as the offertory chant for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, among other times. Let’s not forget this prayer is based in scripture. Parts of it are used as the proper Alleluia verse on certain occasions.

  5. An English Benedictine who used to help me out on weekends introduced this practice to me more than 25 years ago and I have been employing it ever since. At the end of the intercessory prayers I say: As we direct all our prayers to the living and true God let us also call upon the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary…..Hail Mary, full of Grace….
    Not once has anyone questioned this practice. The participation of the people is robust and it serves as a reminder that seeking the intercession of the BVM is a laudatory Catholic practice. Every Catholic knows that the Eucharistic Liturgy is all about our belief in the Triune God; and that He is the one who hears and responds to our prayers. There is certainly no harm done. It has become a local custom. The liturgical “sticklers” ought to relax a little. Would they object if the people were led in the Hail Mary after the final blessing and dismissal? Oh no, Mass would be over and that would make it just fine. Give me a break.

    1. People here are questioning it, and have good reasons for doing so. As a former Protestant, with many family members who have yet to find their way into full communion, things like this are unnecessary obstacles. Helping my family to understand the focus and purpose of the Liturgy is a continual struggle, and contradictions like a Hail Mary in the middle of a prayer offered directly to God the Father do not go unnoticed. You say that no harm has been done in your case, and I hope you are right, but what harm would there be in simply leading a Hail Mary after the final blessing, where, as you point out, it would be entirely uncontroversial?

  6. The recitation of the Hail Mary was so common up until I left the UK in 1976 that I never thought about it. I missed it here in Japan, and actually wondered why they didn’t recite it. Over the years, going back and forth, the level of fequency with which I have encountered it has gone up and down. Probably fading away in the areas I know best, just as people’s memories of the time when England was known as “Our Lady’s Dowry”, which was probably behind the introduction of the practice in the first place. If it was still the local custom in the parish I was visiting, I probably still do it without demur.

  7. With thanks to those who questioned and/or corrected me… that makes two masses which include litanies: Easter vigil and ordinations.

    Otherwise, it seems to me that:
    1) An offertory antiphon quoting scriptural accounts of Ave Maria are not actually prayers or intercessory request but just that – an antiphon which like many others is quoting a scripture appropriate to a given mass.
    2) Processions, even litanies in procession (which Anglican Use Catholics are fond of), are extra liturgical, pre-mass, or out-side-of-mass devotions. Likewise, seasonal Marian antiphons following vespers, evensong, or mass.
    3) What a novel (and laudatory!) idea to have a litany as a bridal procession.
    4) I don’t believe (and someone may well offer contrary evidence) that collects on saints’ days are ever directed to the saint being honoured, but to God who acted through that saint. Prayers or collects at mass are, I believe, addressed only to He all about Whom the mass is.

    1. 2) Processions, even litanies in procession (which Anglican Use Catholics are fond of), are extra liturgical, pre-mass, or out-side-of-mass devotions.

      Processions according to the Roman Liturgical books are definitely not extra-liturgical. There’s a whole section of the them in the EF Rituale Romanum. Not certain what place they have in the reformed rite.

  8. What a great theological discussion! A different question could be asked: is the conclusion of the now-titled “Universal Prayer” (I personally like “bidding prayers”) intended to be a fixed prayer (the Hail Mary or any other consistent formula) or intended to be variable? The GIRM doesn’t seem to be strict or even unambiguous on this point.

    In our archdiocese, the archbishop has penned a prayer for vocations that he has asked to be used each Sunday, if not as an addition after the Post-Communion, as the conclusion of the intercessions. Many of us are questioning the value of either choice: adding a fixed prayer to the Order of Mass in either case seems problematic, but…

    Another theological question that I’ll raise and, since it’s too late for my brain to process any more tonight, I’ll hope others will opine: does the theology (affirmed in the latest iteration of the GIRM) that this part of the liturgy is explicitly an exercise of the faithful’s baptismal priesthood, impact our thoughts about the Ave as conclusion, versus a more Trinitarian prayer?

    Finally, would that every Catholic realized that the Mass was “all about our belief in the Triune God.” The continuing demands for May Crowning during Masses of May and requests for sappy Marian devotional hymns on the Sundays of Easter in May leaves me thinking old pious devotional customs, no matter how well-intentioned, die hard! It reminds me of Elizabeth Johnson’s warning that authentic Marian piety doesn’t allow her to become the feminine face of God, despite her roles as first disciple and Mother of the Church.

    And, finally, speaking of custom….if this custom is so widespread and venerable in the UK, it seems to me that the good bishop in question may do well to consult his brother bishops and try to move as a province or conference. But I live on the other side of the pond!

    1. Thanks, Jeremy – good thoughts and questions. Reminded me of some humorous occasions when I find myself in the “old” family farm region in a small diocese and rural parish.

      For years at the end of the eucharist and before they processed out, the priest, servers, and church would kneel and say a prayer for the “conversion of Russia”. Was amused when that continued not only into the 1990’s but well into the 21st century. So much for any type of current events knowledge.

  9. I have always seen a parallel between the Hail Mary (or another Marian prayer like the Regina Caeli) at the end of the bidding prayers and the Orate fratres before the prayer over the gifts; and there are similarities with the prayer in the penitential rite (Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper virginem, omnes angelos et sanctos, et vos, fratres, orare pro me…).

    In all three cases we are asking other members of the body of Christ for intercessory prayer. How is that out of place in the Mass?

  10. This topic has been on the grapevine for some time now. It was rumoured several weeks ago that Rome had requested the England & Wales bishops’ conference to discontinue the recitation of the Hail Mary at the end of the general intercessions, but no concrete evidence of such a request has surfaced so far. At the same time, it was rumoured that some bishops were telling their priests not to do this. One parish priest was in Bishop Conry’s diocese…. Again, nothing concrete until now. It does appear that one other bishop has taken a similar initiative, but privately. The matter was up for discussion on the agenda of the northern diocesan liturgy commissions contacts meeting recently, and is up for discussion on the southern group meeting taking place shortly; but once again it appears so far that the Conference itself has not had the item on its agenda.

    The origin of the practice dates back to 1971, when William Gordon Wheeler, then Bishop of Leeds, prompted George Patrick Dwyer, Archbishop of Birmingham and chair of the National Liturgical Commission, to introduce it. So from the introduction of the new Order of Mass in Advent 1969 until that time, the intercessions had not included the Hail Mary.

    Since that date, Rome has requested the Conference on two separate occasions (not one, as Bishop Conry says) to desist. I am informed that one of the requests was considerably more forceful than the gentle discouragement that Bishop Conry mentions.

    The reason why Rome was unhappy about the introduction of the practice was because they had heard (unofficially, of course) what the Wheeler/Dwyer rationale was. Their rationale was that if the Hail Mary was not included in the Mass somewhere, then people would forget how to say it. (Yes, seriously, that is what they thought. They overlooked the rather obvious fact that a vernacular Our Father had not been in the Mass until 1969, and no one had forgotten how to say that particular prayer.)

    1. The question of mediaeval practice was not part of their rationale. In any case, it seems clear that the mediaeval practice did not include a prayer addressed directly to Our Lady, but rather included an invocation along the lines of “May the Blessed Virgin Mary [and all the saints] intercede…..”

      Rome would have had no problem with such an invocation; it was the Hail Mary itself which was the issue. Their own rationale for requesting that the practice be discontinued was that the intercessions are addressed to the Father, and that inserting a prayer addressed to someone else was doing violence to the liturgical form.

      As far as I can see, the comments above referring to the inclusion of a reference to Mary and the saints in the Eucharistic Prayer, do not address this issue. Those references do not directly address the persons referred to.

      As far as the use of the Litany of Saints on occasions as an entrance processional is concerned, this practice has a venerable pedigree and is to be commended, but the entrance processional is not of itself a liturgical form addressed to anyone in particular so the issue of whom should be being addressed does not arise.

      1. Paul, I repeat my question from above.

        Orate, fratres is about as direct a form of address (imperative mood, vocative case) as you can get. The address in the penitential rite is more indirect, but it is nonetheless addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels, the saints and the assembly (vos fratres), and is unquestionably a prayer (precor). Both are part of the main liturgy, hardly optional add-ons.

        What am I missing here?

    2. This is why, some years ago, the Holy See wrote to the Bishops of England and Wales advising that such devotional prayer should not have a place in the Prayer of the Faithful. The Holy See asked that the, by then, widespread practice be gradually and gently discouraged.”

      Paul,

      It seems to me that the easily way to gradually and gently discourage this prayer would be to have a time near the end of the Prayer of the Faithful for silent personal prayer “for the space of a Hail Mary” so that people who wanted to retain the custom could do so personally while others could pray as they saw fit. I suspect many people would say silently something like “for A, B, C, and D. Hail Mary…” Perhaps that and some other ways to use this personal prayer time could be suggested in Missalettes etc.

      My own reaction to its use is that it seems to be a “tacked on” prayer. I think it would be objectionable if it were the Lord’s Prayer, or Glory be.

      A lot of times in the past these common prayers were used as a way of praying that used a text that everyone knew in order to pray for a common intention. Let us pray for X, Our Father… Let us pray for Y, Hail Mary…

    3. It would seem that reciting the Hail Mary at the end of the General Intercessions is no more of an intrusion on the liturgy than is holding hands during the Our Father. I note that the Bishop of Convington forbade holding hands during the Our Father there in November of last year.

      1. Just for information, that ban on holding hands is widely ignored. Many people and families continue to hold hands and or pray in the (also forbidden) orare position. Much ado about nothing, and I couldn’t tell you why it was emphasized in the first place.

  11. I am utterly horrified when a Hail Mary is added to the Universal Prayer — fortunately here in Canada it’s a rarity.

    This practice signals a disconnect with the theology of Baptism and the dignity given to all the faithful by virtue of their Baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ. It is precisely in virtue of that dignity, and by that state of being configured to Christ as priest, prophet and king, that the people can address God directly to intercede for the needs of the world. At that particular moment of the liturgy the people of God are exercising their own priestly function, and no other intercessor save Christ is needed.

    1. I am not compelled by the argument that, in the Prayer of the Faithful, since we can intercede, we do not need to ask others to intercede.

      Mary and the saints in Heaven can intercede, not only because they are saints in Heaven, but because they are also members of the faithful, members of the Body of Christ, members of the People of God. The exercise of our priesthood in intercession in the liturgy on earth should not be a reason to avoid asking heavenly intercessors to exercise their priesthood.

      We ask for the intercession of our brothers and sisters on earth and in Heaven during the Confiteor. I don’t see why we should avoid that in the Prayer of the Faithful.

      Note: I am not thus arguing for the inclusion of the Hail Mary in the Prayer of the Faithful.

    2. You seem to be saying that Marian prayer is beneath the baptized Christian.

      Stated in the form of a question: when aren’t the people of God exercising their own priestly function, when no other intercessor save Christ is needed?

    3. Jeffrey puts it very well. If I were to say, “Susan, I am weary in body and spirit, please pray for me”, I don’t see how that diminishes either her baptismal dignity or my own. The Hail Mary is simply another intercession in the bidding prayers.

      At our Masses the bidding prayers are written by the clergy — the readers don’t improvise them. They follow an identical structure: prayers for the Church, prayers for special needs or situations in the parish, prayers for the recently bereaved and deceased, a moment of silence for personal prayers and intercessions, the Marian prayer, and a summing up prayer, always addressed to the Father. The celebrant, rather than the reader, says this final prayer.

      At the solemn Latin (Novus Ordo) Mass on Sunday, the Marian prayer is sung; it varies throughout the year. At most other Masses we use the Hail Mary.

      It all fits together well, especially since the church is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. I would be sad to see the Marian prayer removed.

      1. Jonathan, if the “bidding” prayers are the prayers of the faithful why are they written by the clergy exclusively? Aren’t the laity also “the faithful”?
        Furthermore, it was always my impression that the prayers were directed to God for the petitions and not Mary or the saints.

        From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal

        The Prayer of the Faithful
        69. 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, *o f f e r p r a y e r s t o G o d* 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.

    4. You sound like a Protestant. Could a parish choose to frequently use Carey Landry’s “Gentle Woman” including it’s Hail Mary introduction? Mary’s unique role as an intercessor has been an important part of Catholic piety for a very long time.

      1. Huh?
        Jack who are you accusing of sounding “like a Protestant” not that it necessarily is a bad thing? Although some of my Protestant relatives would consider it a compliment!

        Who are you referencing, me, Susan, JP, Francesco or Jonathan? And how praytell do they sound “like a Protestant”?

  12. Would it be less problematic if the Hail Mary were said at the conclusion of a homily? While a Hail Mary at the end of the Prayer of the Faithful is customary in at least one parish of my diocese, a priest at another parish prefers to conclude his homilies with the angelic salutation. Other priests, in a similar vein, will often conclude a homily with a prayer for the intercession of the saint commemorated that day in the Mass (i.e. St. X, pray for us).

    The two parishes I most frequently attend conclude Ordinary Form said Mass with the St. Michael Prayer. Indeed, intercession was the intent of the Leonine Prayers. However, the Leonine Prayers were suppressed in 1964. One wonders if the prayers were suppressed for theological reasons or for liturgical reasons.

    One wonders the if the recitation of the St. Michael Prayer after said Mass is appropriate given the suppression of the Leonine Prayers. Also, is it appropriate to recite a Hail Mary after the homily, since the homily is considered a proper part of the liturgy in the Ordinary Form?

    1. My concern would be practical/prudential: I strongly suspect it simply turns the Ave into wallpaper. A homily is not a litany, and doesn’t benefit from that kind of repetition.

    2. Jordan – where did you come up with this idea? We have problems enough with poor homilies, etc. so let’s not now burden it with various pieties, prayers, etc.

      Yes, inserting the Hail Mary or some other prayer, rubric, custom, etc. appropriately as a communal response to something in the readings, theme, etc. – fine but we have enough bishops “requiring” prayers and inserting them into the eucharist (not just the prayer of the faithful (sorry, forgot the MR 3 new title)). We, at any time during the liturgical year, hear a prayer for vocations with a family coming forward who are then handed a “chalice” and prayer card so that they will say this prayer during the week – then, it rotates to another family. Meanwhile – we may have the Hail Mary from one associate at the end of the prayer of the faithful; another associate may insert three Hail Marys at the end of mass for some special attention; we may have the patron saint’s prayer – the patron saint of thet parish, if a religious order – numerous order saints/blessed are inserted, etc.

      It really is distracting and smacks of some type of “hocus pocus”.

      1. re: Bill deHaas on May 25, 2012 – 1:40 pm

        Well, I didn’t come up with the idea. This is the initiative of at least one priest.

        I have long thought that one goal of liturgical reform was to loosen the strictures of Tridentine conformity without creating liturgical anarchy. I do not see any difficulty with beginning or ending Mass with the Angelus/Regina Coeli, saying a Hail Mary after the homily or bidding prayers, or reciting a Leonine Prayer (such as “St. Michael the Archangel”) after Mass. All of these are legitimate liturgical adaptations which arise from established prayers. So long as all priests of a parish follow the same pattern of pious additions, I do not foresee confusion among parishioners.

        I have often thought that the more free-form or even ad-libbed Prayer of the Faithful compositions often found today should be avoided. The invocations and responses should be more defined, with a limited number of selections composed on a diocesan or episcopal conference level. The addition of often tangential intentions to the Prayer of the Faithful, such as quasi-political causes, are theologically more questionable than the recitation of a Hail Mary.

      2. Thanks, Jordan – agree with some of your points but would also highlight the comments that follow about the place of “added prayers” in the church’s liturgy.

        And, unfortunately, IMO, agree strongly with Rev. Vavrick’s statement about not “trusting” the church’s liturgy esp. when including or adding Marian piety to it – my experience was similar to Fr. MacDonald’s brief history in Georgia and the FBI (foreign born Irish) priests.

  13. The rationale is laid out in the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy at
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20020513_vers-direttorio_en.html

    Paragraphs 11-13 lay down some principles like:
    13. The objective difference between pious exercises and devotional practices should always be clear in expressions of worship. Hence, the formulae proper to pious exercises should not be commingled with the liturgical actions. Acts of devotion and piety are external to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and of the other sacraments.

    I don’t find it entirely convincing. I am just pointing it out for those who seek a fuller explanation.

  14. I think the Irish clergy in our diocese began the custom of the Hail Mary at the end of the Universal Prayers somewhere in the early 1970’s because of a perception of the denigration of the cult of the saints and diminution of devotion to our Blessed Mother and the Holy Rosary at that period of time.
    I don’t believe that the recommendations for the format of the Universal Prayer of the Church with examples in the appendix of the new Roman Missal foresees using the “Hail Mary” as a part of this prayer either as an intercession or a concluding prayer.
    However, in our diocese we are strongly encouraged to recite as a congregation our Diocesan Prayer for Vocations which almost everyone in our diocese knows by heart. I’ve always felt uncomfortable doing this but our laity say it together with gusto and then the priest concludes the intercessions in the normal way. So I suspect adding the Hail Mary or the Prayer to Saint Michael in a similar fashion is no big deal but does strike me as a bit liturgically incorrect.

  15. From here, the problem with a Hail Mary at Mass is that it is like interrupting a football game to play an inning of baseball. I don’t want to compare the importance of the Mass relative to the Hail Mary, but there is a time and place for both of these. Adding one to the other just seems odd.

    On the other hand – the singing of Gentle Woman after Communion has never seemed inappropriate!

  16. Holy Mass commemorates Christ’s presence amongst us. His once only sacrifice on the Cross is remembered, and in the host, there is his presence; but we stop at that. The bread and wine are mentioned as body (flesh) and blood in a figurative manner. If taken literally, then the apostles and Jesus would have had blood dripping out of their mouths, and the wine would have tasted like human blood. Compare the Cana miracle when the substance of the water was actually changed into that of real wine.

  17. If the Salve is removed from the bidding prayers perhaps we could follow the Tridentine rite and bring back the Leonine prayers where the Salve Regina was always said?

    1. As a priest I would like to bring to our attention that the Mass is a triune experience and Hail Mary at the end of the prayer of the faithful when we are supposed to conclude with “We ask all this through Christ our Lord”, misses the point. A hymn to our lady at the end of Mass is in order.

  18. Brigid Rauch (#35) came up with the perfect analogy!
    The Hail Mary just doesn’t fit, theologically or as a genre of prayer, in the Eucharistic celebration.

    The lack of fit is particularly apparent when it’s added to the Universal Prayer which is an entirely different genre of public prayer and draws its significance from a different underlying theological source.

    1. Susan, these assertions are intriguing — can you say more? A different underlying theological source? I hope you will expand on this point.

  19. The liturgy of the Mass is a great prayer of thanksgiving and sacrifice to God the Father, through the Lord Jesus, in the Holy Spirit. Marian prayers, such as the Hail Mary, distract from this basic function of the liturgy. Now, I say this as one with a great private devotion to the Mother of God. However, as a student of the Liturgy, I have to say that the Council Fathers were clear that the Prayers of the Faithful were to be addressed to the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.

  20. The Rev Jene Vavrick –
    Amen to your analysis.
    I often get the impression that large numbers of people don’t really believe that God hears or is reached by prayers that are not commended to him by the BVM. This is an almost inescapable conclusion from the greatly felt need to invoke the BVM or other saints in the Eucharist, which is properly addressed totally to the Triune Godhead. Our Blessed Lady and the Saints certainly do get their appropriate due in other situations, but efficacy of the mass itself and of prayers within it are not in any way dependent upon or needful of their intercession. In the mass we are in converse directly with Christ, our High Priest, the Holy Ghost, and God the Father. The felt need to invoke any saints, however exalted, in effect waters down Eucharistic theology and makes the mass less that what it is. It means that we believe we won’t quite be heard without mediators other than Christ, ‘our only Mediator and Advocate’… and that is heresy.

    1. And yet, the eucharistic prayers of the Roman Missal, and in particular the Roman Canon, invoke Our Lady and the saints, even litanies of saints. I suspect it would be difficult for a Catholic to characterize 1500+ years of a native Roman anaphora tradition as heresy without losing an intrinsic part of Catholic identity.

      Martin Luther’s reduction of the late medieval Canon to the verba and Thomas Cranmer’s Prayer of Consecration represent different approaches to the eucharist without the explicit intercession of Mary and the saints. However, it would be difficult to reconcile certain aspects Reformation tradition eucharistic theology to the Byzantine and Roman anaphoras, for example, as each invoke the prayers of the saints as an integral recognition that Mass is offered for the living, the dead, and the company of heaven.

  21. JZ –
    Your scholarship is indoubtedly superior to mine in these matters, and I thank you for your rejoinder.
    However, a careful reading of my remarks will clarify what, rather precisely, I suggested was unorthodox. And, I do question your contention that our Lady and the saints are ‘invoked’ in the anaphora. I quote from the Roman canon as it appears in the liturgy of Anglican Use Catholics:

    ‘United in one communion, we venerate the memory, first of the glorious ever-Virgin Mary… that of the Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, [etc.]… Cosmas and Damian…: grant that by their merits and prayers we may in all things be defended with the help of thy protection.’

    A careful interpretation of this will, it seems to me, reveal that the saints are not at all ‘invoked’ or addressed, nor is their intercession requested. Rather, what is asked for (of God alone) is, specifically, that on the merits of the saints ‘we may be defended with the help of THY protection’. This is not an invocation of, nor an address to, any but God himself.

    Also, there was no reference to Luther or Cranmer, direct nor oblique, in my remarks. Since, though, you mention them, I have heard a few Catholic priests suggest seriously that all that was needed was the ‘words of institution’. This, of course is quite Lutheran and is not the voice of The Church. As for Cranmer: I have always thought that his canon (as it appears in the 1929 American BCP) was a thing of respectable orthodoxy and great literary beauty. He, though, would have insisted that he intended no parallel with Catholic belief.

    The Easter Vigil and ordinations remain, I think, exceptional examples of the actual invocation of saints within the mass. Their intercession is not otherwise aked for. (As always, I stand to be corrected: the mass is directed totally to the Triune Godhead… as is meet.

    1. re: M. Jackson Osborn on May 28, 2012 – 4:56 pm

      I apologize for the somewhat terse and polemic response. I am certainly not any more knowledgeable. I am not a trained theologian, unfortunately.

      Yes, you are quite right that the communicantes of the Roman Canon places veneration of Mary and the saints under the protection of Our Lord. However, I am convinced that the mention of Mary and the litany of Roman saints recognizes the importance of veneration, even if veneration is always rightly subordinated to the due adoration of God in eucharistic prayer. The paschal mystery and sacrifice inherent to eucharistic prayer always includes the world seen (as in the united sacrifice of celebrant and assembly) as well as the world eternal and unseen by human eyes.

      Certainly, the Prayer Book is one of the three pillars of modern English (along with Shakespeare and the Authorized Version). Also, Lutheran chorales and liturgical settings are rightfully a celebrated part of the musical heritage of all western Christians. I am convinced that the Prayer Book communion service and Lutheran eucharistic liturgy duly praise God and the all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Yet, as you note, Catholic eucharistic prayer is much more comprehensive than the institution narrative. Veneration, then, is a recalling into our presence those who have cooperated with God’s will and give a great assent to our thanksgiving. Should their presence not be as important as the assembly?

  22. In the liturgy we mention the saints as our companions, heavenly but still companions worshipping God.
    The Hail Mary echoes the wonder of the angel and the matron at the Mother of God. It tunes in on the great things God has done in her, but she is a singular object of devotion, not a companion to our prayer but a recipient of them.

  23. The Universal Prayer is a unique genre of liturgical prayer that disappeared from the Roman liturgy around the sixth century and was restored at Vatican II.

    Why was it dusted off and reintroduced? Not as an intriguing piece of antique liturgical furniture but as an intrinsic part of the renewal of the theology of Baptism. When the Paschal Mystery became the centre of 20th century theologizing on the sacraments and the feasts of the liturgical year, our own dying and rising with Christ in Baptism became a point of reference that made perfect theological sense of nearly every element of the reform: active participation of the faithful, use of the vernacular, the dialogue mass, and of course the “Prayers of the Faithful” which really do belong to all the “faithful,” not arbitrarily but because of the dignity of their baptism. For this reason a priest is not to present the petitions, though a deacon may in virtue of his caritative service, not his ordination.

    I teach students to prepare the petitions week by week using good models and an awareness of the current needs of the world and their local communities. They follow the template given in GIRM par 70 for the sequence of areas of need. The congregation’s response is to be addressed to God the First Person of the Trinity. I tell them to vet their petitions with the pastor to help avoid accidental heresy or pastoral insensitivity. And we look at a number of examples of what not to do — “Counting Down the Top Ten Dysfunctional Petitions.”

  24. Here’s the clincher, number 1, the Manipulative Petition (a rough paraphrase of a petition that, yes, I really heard in a parish liturgy!) “For the success of our annual parish appeal, that our parishioners will be generous when volunteers come to their door, and may they be rewarded in proportion to their generosity, let us pray to the Lord.”

    Others are simply common sense: don’t pray for the success of your local football team. Pray for vocations to all the ministries of the Church. Be sure that pro-life petitions do not condemn anonymous hurting parishioners who may have had unwanted pregnancies.

    Here’s an interesting dividing issue between Canada and the U.S.: in time of war or armed conflict, do not limit yourself to praying only for *our* troops. Pray for the making of peace with justice, pray for refugees, pray for civilian victims, pray for all families of soldiers — in other words, take a global perspective and try to see as God sees creation. I’ve had Americans seething with anger because they feel “we must always support our troops.” Canadians are fine with the idea …. maybe not so fine about not praying for their favourite hockey team 😉

  25. Jonathan Day:

    Paul, I repeat my question from above.

    Orate, fratres is about as direct a form of address (imperative mood, vocative case) as you can get. The address in the penitential rite is more indirect, but it is nonetheless addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels, the saints and the assembly (vos fratres), and is unquestionably a prayer (precor). Both are part of the main liturgy, hardly optional add-ons.

    What am I missing here?

    Jonathan, I think the point here is that the traditional form of the intercessions is as follows:

    (1) The priest addresses the assembly directly, asking them to pray in the light of the scriptures that have been broken open in their midst. (This corresponds to the Orate, fratres.) The priest should not be addressing God directly at this point, though more than a few do.

    (2) A number of intentions are offered to the assembly for them to think and pray about. These are not addressed to God, Jesus, or anyone else (though one frequently finds that they are, alas, especially in school celebrations) but to the assembly directly. They ask “Let us pray for / about….” and should ideally followed by a time of silence so that the assembly can do precisely that: pray about what they have been invited to pray about, before the concluding V/ and R/ “We pray to the Lord” — “Lord, hear our prayer” or “Lord, in your mercy” — “Hear our prayer” are enunciated. This ensures that these intercessions do truly become the Prayer of the Faithful or the General (rather than ‘Particular’) Intercessions, and not the prayer of the intercessor or the person who composed the intentions.

    In my view, this also means that the frequently-encountered “that….. + subjunctive” clauses, which are tantamount to putting words into the mouths of the assembly instead of allowing them to articulate their own responses in prayer to the persons or topics that they have been invited to pray about, should not be included. In other words, we should not be announcing “Let us pray for X and Y, that they may….” followed by a worthy but quite possibly platitudinous wish, but simply say “Let us pray for X and Y”, followed by a time of silence (minimum 15 seconds) during which we can indeed pray for them.

    (3) The presider prays a concluding collect addressed directly to God (though one quite often finds them couched incorrectly in “We pray to the Father, that he will listen to our prayers…” language).

    In this context a prayer addressed directly to Mary is a misfit, and the CDW had no hesitation in saying so.

    1. For my money, the best way of incorporating the BVM into the announcement of the intentions is along the following lines:

      [Final intention] Let us ask Mary and all the saints to join their prayers to ours as we remember those who have died, N and N, and those whose anniversaries occur about this time, N and N.

      [Substantial pause]

      Lord, in your mercy….

    2. Thank you, Paul, for an excellent course in the Prayer of the Faithful 101.

      Can we hire you to “educate” most bishops and diocesan personnel who are inclined to insert the “that……+ subjunctive clauses” ad nauseam. They typically touch on the usual themes:
      – vocations (to religious life only)
      – fundraising
      – pro-life but defined very narrowly and in some cases sounds partisan
      – local seminary
      – whatever the diocesan local monthly or weekly theme is – bishop’s fundraiser, favorite charity, etc.

      Also, a recurrent theme that does go back to SC but has never been implemented adequately – the use of “silence” in the pacing of the prayer.

      Appreciate it.

  26. PI –
    Saying ‘let us ask Mary and all the saints to join their prayers….’ is an implicit petition to the saints, or, at best, a bidding to petition them; which is precisely what we are not supposed to be doing at mass. Your ‘best way of incorporating the BVM into the announcement of intentions…’ is not at all appropriate: the intentions are, in fact, not ‘announcements’, but petitions to God, and God alone. The saints are not supposed to be incorporated into the Universal Prayers… even though their presence and supplications, like that of the angels, we know are with us.

    1. Chapter and verse, MJO?

      The fact is precisely that the intentions are supposed to be announcements of topics for prayer, and not petitionary prayers themselves. This elementary point is misunderstood by many, not least a proportion of all members of the clergy, and evidently by yourself, too.

      There is a difference between mentioning Mary and the saints in an announcement of an intention, which is what I advocate and which was mediaeval practice, and praying directly to them.

      The only part of the traditional form of the oratio universalis addressed directly to God is the concluding collect prayer, as stated above.

      1. It’s worth mentioning that similar misconceptions surround the third form of the Penitential Act.

        Here, the invocations should be addressed directly to Christ, and are not statements about ourselves. The latter may be fine in a penitential service, but not at Mass.

        In other words, the form of this form of the Penitential Act, as modelled in the Roman Missal, is one of “Lord Jesus, you [not we] raise the dead to life in the Spirit / are mighty God and Prince of peace / are the greatest thing since sliced bread” and not “For the times when we have not… / have failed in… / have wanted to murder our grandmothers, etc”.

        Once again, one finds many priests / deacons / teachers who do not understand that this form of the Penitential Act is all about Jesus and his salvific acts, and not about us and our own awfulness and wretchedness (for that, you use the first or second forms of the Act). That is why in the 1998 translation of the Missal ICEL thought that it should more properly be referred to as a Litany of Praise rather than a Penitential Rite, and that this in turn implied that following this form with the Gloria in the same celebration was liturgical “overkill”.

        In a similar vein, the Blessing and Sprinkling of Water may replace the Penitential Act at Mass, but that does not mean that it itself is a Penitential Act in nature — and particularly not on Easter Sunday morning, when it is clearly a celebration of our redemption in Christ rather than about cleansing us from our wickedness. Once again, ICEL suggested that using both Sprinkling Rite and Gloria together was redundant.

        (Such a pity that Cardinal Medina and his colleagues saw this as a violation of the rite, rather than an enhancement of it. Their liturgical formation was sadly lacking…)

      2. PI – I am not ready to yield to those who think that the Universal Prayers are incomplete (perhaps, even ineffective, it seems for some) unless our Blessed Lady, the BVM, and other saints are invoked, petitioned, or in some wise brought into these Universal Prayers. GIRM (69) is quite plain: ‘In the Prayer of the Faithful, the people respond in a certain way to the word of God… [and] OFFER PRAYERS TO GOD FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL’. (emphasis mine.) Announced Intentions, thus, are read and the congregation assents to the prayer-inention by saying Lord have mercy, or Lord hear our prayer, or… The saints, not even the glorious and Ever-Virgin Mother of God, are not invoked addressed, prayed to or in any manner petitioned. This is a conversation that is strictly between Deacon, People, Priest and God on behalf of the temporal and spiritual needs of the Church, society, individuals, and the world.

        Nor do the recommended sampling of petitions (GIRM 70) have even a remote suggestion that the saints are to be invoked parties to the Universal Prayers.

        You are bent on finding a loophole whereby invocation of saints can be worked into the mass. There isn’t one. Why are you not satisfied to talk to the Lord God alone during his mass? He comes to you in word, sacrament, teaching…and makes himself totally available, objectively real, and would visit with you, yet many are those for whom this is not enough. What makes the day is talking to and invoking saints… otherwise we aren’t too sure that God will hear us.

      3. MJO,

        I think we’re at cross-purposes here.

        I am in agreement with you that petitioning Mary directly is not appropriate at this point in the rite. Against that, however, the mediaeval tradition was to mention Mary, with or without the saints, indirectly, so if folk are desperate to do that there is a precedent. I personally wouldn’t do so, if given the choice.

        The intentions in the intercessions are announcements. They are not prayers themselves. The point at which the people actually pray is when they say “hear our prayer” or similar words, after the invitation to respond. My point, then, is that intentions which start off, for example, Dear God or Dear Jesus, are actually prayers, when they ought to be announcements to enable the assembly members to formulate their own silent thoughts/prayers on the topics that have been announced.

        The only exception to that would be if you were using the intercessions litany form, which also has a venerable history but which was not the form reintroduced into the Mass after Vatican II. You will find it used rather frequently in France, however. In that form, God is addressed directly, and the assembly responds immediately with “Lord, save your people” or a similar direct response.

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