21 November 2009


This is footnote to my recent (second) series on Concelebration; unlike the earlier posts, in which I shared facts, in this one I now advance a hypothesis.

"Pray Brethren that my sacrifice and yours ..."

We find the roots of this formula, which precedes the Prayer Over The Offerings, in Carolingian Gaul, in a rubric which goes: "Then indeed the Priest to [or with?] right hand and left asks of the other priests that they pray for him".

I am suggesting that originally the Orate Fratres was a formula addressed to concelebrants; although, of course, through being used by celebrants who had no concelebrants around them, it soon came to be thought of as addressed to the assistant clergy in the sanctuary and to the congregation.

The strength of my new theory is that it makes sense of the concept of "my sacrifice and yours". I have long been puzzled by the assumption we have all made that a formula which entered the Mass in the Carolingian period should seem to want so explicitly to refer to the People as offerers of the Sacrifice. Yes, I know that in a sense they certainly are, but that was a period in which emphasis was laid more and more strongly on the idea that the Priest sacrifices for the people (so that the phrase "for whom we offer unto thee" entered the Memento).


Sadie Vacantist said...

Then this formula should not be used when the priest is not concelebrating?

Adrian Furse said...

Presumably the fact that the commemoration pro vivis contains the phrase pro quibus tibi offerimus vel qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis showing the move in the Carolingian period from the Mass as an offering of the plebs sancta Dei to the offering by the priest for the people may have some bearing upon this

johnf said...


Here's a little anecdote I read about in the 1950's in the Catholic press.

A Catholic priest recounted how and a fellow priest were on holiday hiking in France and needed accommodation for the night. They decided to ask the local priest, who received them in his sick bed (had the flu or something)

They were in hiking gear and he asked them to prove that they were priests by reciting the 'Orate fratres' Neither could get further than the first two words.

Then the priest in bed said 'Orate fratres' and rolled over onto his stomach and finished the prayer.

Both priests then found that they too could finish the prayer if they turned away after the first two words.

Only those familiar with the Usus Antiquor would appreciate this I guess.

Anonymous said...

Reverend and dear Father,

I would suggest that the "ORATE FRATRES" is a carry over from an earlier time when the Eucharistic Liturgy of East – West had far more similar order than present. In the Coptic & Ethiopian Qiddasie (Divine Liturgy – Eucharist) the principle celebrant turns to his right, extends his hands and joins them with the assistant Priest. The principle celebrant then says:

Remember me, my father Priest, in your holy prayers.

The assistant or concelebrating Priest or Priests say:

The Lord keep your Priesthood and accept your Sacrifice and Offering with a gracious countenance.