15 July 2017

Who does the Intercession in the modern rites?



Who should do the Intercession? The Pauline Rite says that the 'priest' is in charge (moderari); that he invites the Faithful to pray; that he concludes it with a collect (oratione). But it is suitable (expedit) for the 'intentiones' to be done by the Deacon, a cantor, 'vel ab alio'. It has been the custom in televised papal liturgies for a variety of laypeople in a variety of langages to give the intentions. Common Worship cheerfully regards 'leading the prayers of intercession' as part of 'The ministry of the members of the congregation'.

The fine Ordinariate Missal, on the other hand, provides several intercessions. These are done by the Priest; or by the Deacon; or, in one case, by a Reader. That seems right to me. But to be honest, I must admit that the rubric at the top of the Appendix (4) does say that one of the forms provided 'may', not 'must', be used. So there is, sadly, a loophole. The Intercession, incidentally, is optional on weekdays.

In the earlier Roman Rite, the Solemn Prayers (surviving on Good Friday) were done by the Deacon giving the people an intention; after a silence the Pontiff sang a collect. The Deprecatio papae Gelasii divided the giving of the Intentions between Deacon and Schola - and the people responded Kyrie eleison. But at one stage it appears that within the Eucharistic Prayer the deacon read the Memento and Memento etiam. In the Byzantine Rite the Deacon proclaims the Intentions and the people reply with Kyrie eleison.

I would be interested to know what conclusions others would daw from this or from other evidence. It seems to me that the practice of leaving the Intercession to some lay person both to write and to deliver receives no support from ancient precedent and rather little from modern Roman legislation. The celebrant should be in charge and the the rite should not be regarded as a moment of informality in the Mass: as though we heave a sigh of relief and thank God for giving us a few moments of freedom in which we are not dominated by hieratic ministers and hieratic ritual. The Intercession should be conspicuously part of the official worship of the Church.


12 comments:

John F H H said...

Aha! The Intercessions, The Prayer of the Faithful; the General Intercession; the Prayer for the Church; Oratio Universalis . . . . a frequent cause of annoyance to myself :( .

A few random observations.

I think that there are two historical precedents on which one can draw: The Solemn Prayers of Good Friday (to which you rightly draw attention), and Bidding the Bedes of Sarum Rite, both of which have survived, the latter most notably in Milner-White's Nine Lessons and Carols.

The common feature of both is that the faithful are told for what to pray, and in the Solemn Prayers, not only did the Deacon (latterly the Celebrant) give the intention and the celebrant gather up the silent prayers of the faithful in the Collect, the Deacon with Flectamus genua andthe Subdeacon with Levate topped and tailed a silence during which the people could pray as instructed.

This preserved the role of the Celebrating priest as the intercessor par excellence in public worship taking and articulating the prayers of the faithful to God.

I have not seen the model forms of Intercession in the Ordinariate Missal, but I believe that as a general principle, the Celebrant should 'top and tail' the Intercession, the 'reader' should tell the people for what to pray, and they should be given time to do so.

In the Missale Romanum (1975) - the latest I have) the Specimina Orationis Universalis in the Appendix generally seem to follow this form, reminiscent of the Anglican Litany, with the formula for the individual biddings Pro ... ut ... Dominum deprecemur. R. Domine miserere being the commonest pattern, occasionally Christe, audi nos or Kyrie eleison being used as responses.

The GIRM tells us that the bidding of the intentions is for the Deacon or cantor or 'another'.

Est sacerdotis celebrantis precationem moderari, brevi monitione fideles ad orandum invitare ipsamque oratione concludere. Expedidit intentiones a diacono vel a cantore vel ab alio proferantur. Totus cœtus vero precationem suam exprimit sive invocatione communi post intentiones prolatus, sive oratione sub silentio.

I despair when I hear, or see in compilations of Intercessions published with an Imprimatur, biddings addressed to God rather than the people.

motuproprio said...

Also the intercessions (I do like the older expression Bidding Prayers) should always be directed to the Father, and not either of the other two Persons of the Trinity.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

The famous Doctor of Modernist Progressivism, Professor Herman NuDix of Continuity College in Rome , who holds the Pierre Teilhard de Chardin Chair of Chimeras and Fantasy, has emailed ABS and assured him that what you write, while interesting, informative, and instructive, what you write is, nevertheless, an example of continuity in that both the present praxis and the past praxis of ecclesiastical tradition have to do with prayer; so don't sweat it.

MaryP said...


The Prayers of the FAithful are supposed to be the prayers of the local church for local intentions. Not a re-do of the prayers that are already in the Eucharistic prayer. Instead we get vague "God make everybody nice" prayers, or political ones. Fed up. Universal prayers are in the Eucharistic prayer, in union with the prayer of Christ, where they belong. Particular local prayers are listed ahead of time so that people can hold them up as they unite themselves with the prayer of Christ in the priest. doesn't anybody know anything about the Mass anymore?

John Nolan said...

The formula in current papal liturgies is bizarre. A deacon announces the intention in Latin. It is then repeated (more or less) by a layperson in some vernacular or another. After 'Dominum deprecemur' the congregation responds 'Te rogamus, audi nos.'

Useless repetition, anyone?

When the bidding prayers were introduced in 1965 they always included one for the Queen (to replace the Domine Salvam Fac after Sunday Sung Mass). This is rarely heard now. Praying for the pope and local bishop possibly made sense then, since the Canon was silent and in Latin.

Nowadays it is just more 'useless repetition' - something that is absent in the EF but is almost a hallmark of the vernacular OF.

Irony, anyone?

Anita Moore said...

A pernicious practice in some parishes in my diocese is for people to yell out intentions from the pews, ending with "we pray to the Lord," and followed by the whole congregation saying, "Lord, hear our prayer."

Every time I find myself at Mass in such a parish, I am half-tempted to yell out, "For an end to the pernicious practice of yelling out intentions from the pews during Mass, we pray to the Lord!"

GOR said...

Unfortunately in much of the NO, I think that the ‘Prayers of the Faithful’ are merely the exhalations of the Women’s Auxiliary, the Altar Society or the Handmaidens of the Duster…

Most seem derived from the emotion of the moment – what once would have been attributed to ‘the vapors’ – with little relation to the transcendent.

E sapelion said...

The ritual Masses, e.g. for Scrutiny of Catechumens, also provide a model.

I think that some of those I hear are seriously damaging to the life of the church.
A major problem occurs when they are expressed as prayers, rather than intentions; because it is a cardinal principle of the Mass that, except when the people pray collectively, the celebrant does all the vocal praying. Even the deacon never prays on behalf of the people at Mass.
Some of the ones we use, from a published collection, are heretical. And 90% of them have a written response like (18th June) "Lord Jesus, feed the hungry give drink to the thirsty." (!) I keep my mouth shut, and sometimes turn off my hearing aid. As other comments say, the object of the exercise is to invite prayers of the congregation (silently) which are relevant to here and now, just as the ritual Masses do. I am puzzled as to why our parish priest does not show more sense, he is in many other ways exemplary.

John F H H said...

The Prayers of the FAithful are supposed to be the prayers of the local church for local intentions.

The Missale Romanum calls the Intercessions ,Oratio universalis, seu oratio fidelium and the specimen prayers provided are very much with universsl intentions - they should be [my rough translation] for
a) the needs of the Church
b) for the governance of the public realm and the health and salvation of the world
c) for those weighed down with any difficulty
d) for the local community

and in particular celebrations, such as Confirmations, Marriage, Funerals [etc] the intentions may suit the particular occasion.

Rather reflecting St Paul's advice to Timothy (1 Tim.c.2:vv.1-8)-"There should be prayers offered for everyone....."

Joshua said...

'I was once present at a Mass at which the lady entrusted with the General Intentions uttered them in the nowadays customary amalgam of unctuous sentimentality and newspaper jargon; a friend whispered in my ear: “Lord, may our holiday photos turn out well!”' - Martin Mosebach, "The Heresy of Formlessness: The Roman Liturgy and Its Enemy", trans. Graham Harrison (Ignatius Press, 2006).

Titus said...

The bidding prayers were apparently a fairly prominent part of many medieval rites. Fr. Augustine Thompson talks about them at some length in his work on the religious life of the Italian city states, Cities of God. His discussion makes it sound very much as if then, like now, they were composed locally.

The problem with that today, of course, is that you can't trust your local parish to compose simple, orthodox prayers of the faithful. Most of the ones you hear today combine a simple prayer ("For our elected leaders") with a paragraph of virtue-signalling ("that they may enact policies that reflect proper care for the environment, welcome to all immigrants, and progressive tax structures"). As some online commentator (I do not remember who) once observed, everything following "that" in these prayers is generally self-important rubbish.

The Byzantines have some excellent litanies that they use in a similar manner, but without the need for perpetual composition. The general intercessions at my wedding were lifted root and branch from a Byzantine nuptial litany.

motuproprio said...

This prayer from the Patrimony would seem to be a fruitful source for the General Intercessions, Prayer of the Faithful or Bidding Prayers, however they may be described being capable of being split up into shorterr sections with an appropriate response if desired.
O God, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for the good estate of the Catholick Church; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those, who are any ways afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate; [*especially those for whom our prayers are desired;] that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them, according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.