Good Friday Intercession for Ukraine—Update

The Pray Tell post on the Austrian proposal for an additional 2022 Solemn Intercession in the Good Friday liturgy has raised much interest.

The Congregation for Divine Worship has recommended an additional intercession for Ukraine without publishing a normative (Latin?) version. This might have been a reason why the English version from Pray Tell has already been quoted on several websites. I want to give a short update on what I know about the reception.

First of all: I had never expected that my sample would find such a huge reception in different parts of the world. To clarify certain misunderstandings: The prayer that I presented is not an official version by the Austrian Bishops’ Conference. The Österreichisches Liturgisches Institut (Austrian Liturgical Institute) in Salzburg works for the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, but the publication itself is nothing more than a recommendation by the institute. The final decision is still up to the bishops for their dioceses.

The same applies to Switzerland where the Austrian version has been recommended without changes.

The diocese of Bozen-Brixen in Italy has published an Italian translation aside the German version.

While the English version on Pray Tell was made by myself with much helpful assistance by our main editor Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions in the US has published a new English translation, a Spanish one, and an alternative sample from the diocese of Albany (NY).

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has announced that they will make an intercession for Good Friday available in the next days.

On April 4, 2022, the German Bishop’s conference has published its own version which is the Austrian draft with some interesting changes:

Lasst uns auch beten für die Menschen in der Ukraine und in allen Kriegsgebieten der Erde;
für alle, die vor dem Schrecken der Gewalt geflohen und ihrer Heimat beraubt sind;
für alle, die mit ihrem Leben einstehen für die Abwehr des Feindes und für den Schutz der Schwachen und Verfolgten.

Allmächtiger, ewiger Gott,
du bist stärker als die Unterdrücker dieser Welt,
du hast Mitleid mit den Geringen und Armen.
Wie du Israel aus der Gewalt Ägyptens befreit hast,
so rette in unseren Tagen alle Opfer von Unrecht und Krieg.
Wandle die Herzen jener, die Böses tun,
und lass den Frieden siegreich sein.
Darum bitten wir durch Christus, unsern Herrn.

In English (first part):

Let us also pray for the people in Ukraine and in all war zones of the world,
for those who have fled the dread of violence and have been deprived of their homes,
for all those who stand up with their lives to ward off the enemy and to protect the weak and the persecuted.

I did not include the word also (auch) in the first line of my English translation of the Austrian version, but here we have it again. In the German Missal most Solemn Intercessions begin with Lasst uns beten and Lasst uns auch beten (Let us pray and Let us also pray) in alternation. When you include the Ukraine intercession after #9, the word also fits best into the German scheme. That is the entire mystery behind this word.

The women and men (…for all women and men who stand up…) from the Austrian sample have been omitted, and—much more interesting—the evil has been replaced by the enemy. In my understanding this new word Feind (enemy) refers more to human beings, and the intended semantic amibiguity of evil human vs. evil force  is lost (in German der Böse vs. das Böse which both become des Bösen in the genitive case). But at second glance the enemy can be understood more metaphorically, so that the semantic difference between the (Austrian) evil and the (German) enemy is not very large.

And here is the collect in English:

Almighty and eternal God,
you are stronger than the oppressors of this world,
you have compassion for the lowly and the poor.
As you guided Israel out of the force of Egypt, so save in our days all victims of injustice and war.
Change the hearts of the evildoers, and let peace be victorious.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. — Amen.

The first sentence has been completely rearranged. The quotation from the Magnificat (you throw down the oppressors) has been replaced by you are stronger than the oppressors of this world (with a change in the German word order). To be honest: I do not see how this is an improvement, but of course the expression as such makes a lot of sense.

For Israel’s experience in Egypt, the German version uses the word Gewalt instead of the Austrian Knechtschaft. Gewalt is not easy to translate: it can mean force, but also violence, power, or rather neutral (legal) authority. Since Gewalt is used here for force of Egypt, the following part had to be rephrased: The Austrian expression Krieg und Gewalt (war and violence  with Gewalt clearly meaning violence in this context) was rephrased to Unrecht und Krieg (injustice and war). This expression gives the collect a more juridical approach to the evil among humans.

Please allow me a final personal remark: I am overwhelmed by what my post on Pray Tell has set in motion. But much more I would wish that the occasion for this additional Good Friday Solemn Intercession had never come into existence.

7 comments

  1. Liborius, thank you so much for what you have done. I applaud you for drawing attention to this possibility of prayer in a timely way, and offering us a fine model to consider. I am not at all surprised it has won wide acclaim and is spreading around the world.

    Just a note for our English-speaking readers, to avoid any possible confusion. When you say “here is the collect in English” what you are showing us is the German version of the collect translated into English for the purpose of seeing how it compares to your original.

    To anyone who is seeking the US English translation, you should follow the links in the earlier section of the post. I repeat here the primary one:

    https://fdlc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/2022-Good-Friday-Special-Intention-for-Ukraine-English.pdf

  2. The Diocese of Portsmouth, UK, has approved its own version of the additional intercession. The English translation of the Austrian text that appeared on Pray Tell was adapted to make it more “Roman”. Additionally, that adaptation has been rendered into Latin for those who celebrate the Good Friday liturgy in that language.

    The link, including music for both languages, will be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/j8noee6lbvsn91p/AABeOC7iVrQz2dtujcayAO3va?dl=0

      1. Thank you very much, these are helpful additions to the post! I was already suspecting if anyone would create a Latin version of the intercession, especially after the Congregation for Divine Worship had announced that they would not do so.

  3. Liborius, congratulations! It is not simple to identify a pastoral need, and even harder to address it!

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