So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ordinariate Mass: Prayers Of The People (Form II). A model for the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

The following Prayers of the People, which follow the singing of the Nicene Creed and which precede the Penitential Rite, is a form of the Intercession used during the Sunday Sung Mass of the Fellowship of Blessed John Henry Newman (Victoria, BC), a quasi-parish of the Personal Ordinate of the Chair of Saint Peter. The Intercession, called the Universal Prayer or the General Intercessions or the Prayer of the Faithful in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, is omitted on week days.

The Intercession, as you will read, follows a form:
  1. Invitation to pray for the Church and all people.
  2. The Church's orientation to God.
  3. Prayer for clergy, those in authority in the Church.
  4. Prayer for those in authority in the political realm.
  5. Prayer for missionaries.
  6. Prayer for the People of God (the Universal Church) and the congregation present (the local Church).
  7. Prayer for the sick and the needy.
  8. Prayer for the dead.
  9. Prayer of thanksgiving for the witness and intercession of the saints.
  10. Conclusion.
Rather than awkward, convoluted, impromptu "prayers" that at times border on heresy, and are frequently drippily sentimental and amount to little more than advertisements of up-and-coming events, the forms of the Intercession used in the Divine Worship (Mass) of the Ordinariate help place the congregation in the presence of God, sustain the orientation of worship to God, provide the congregation with a weekly focus upon the vital needs of the whole Church and the particular congregation, and reinforce the local parish's communion with the Universal Church. The Intercession is not merely a shopping list of demands.

The Intercession of the Ordinariate Liturgy is spoken by the celebrant (alone) who stands at the centre of the altar facing East (ad orientem), i.e., toward God. The congregation weds their hearts and minds to the Prayer by kneeling as a sign of humble pleading and of trust in the mercy of God. The congregation's participation is not merely passive, it is a participation of shared intention culminating in and affirmed by the one concluding Amen shared by all. The Intercession manifests well the authentic and ancient participatio actuosa reiterated by the Second Vatican Council.

The Intercession has a rhythm, which has been outlined above, which enables the worshipper to pattern his or her private and/or personal prayers upon it. The lex credendi lex orandi of the Mass forms and finds expression in the personal devotion of the worshipper, better ensuring an orthodox approach to individual prayer. That is, individual prayer conforms to liturgical prayer and unites the individual with the reality of the whole communion of the saints at or in prayer.

Notice, too, the following "school of prayer":
  • deference to God, i.e., humility, not a series of demands ("... we humbly beseech thee most mercifully to receive these our prayers which we offer unto thy divine majesty...");
  • requests for grace to grow in holiness and communion with God;
  • fostering hope in God's mercy;
  • fostering a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving;
  • a right sense of petition;
  • beauty in prayer; beauty forms the soul in truth and goodness;
  • hierarchy in prayer that fosters appreciation of God's authority as first and foremost. Knowing that God is in charge should be a great comfort to those who have personal struggles and those who labour on behalf of souls.
How often do the prayers in your (Ordinary Form) parish liturgy convey a weak trust in God's providential care? The Roman Missal has forms or models similar to Divine Worship contained in it for use during the Prayers of the Faithful. I have yet to witness, however, a priest in our Diocese actually employ any of those models on a regular basis in the Ordinary Form. Most often, a layman reads the intentions and ends each one with "Let us pray (or We pray) to the Lord", which is followed by the response "Lord, hear our prayer." On a rare occasion, one hears the more apt response "We beseech you, hear our prayer." And still other times, one witnesses the celebrant open up the floor, so-to-speak, to intentions spoken aloud by individuals in the congregation present, which can turn into an unmanageable competition between intentions awkwardly ordered and spoken by the same outspoken few. In such circumstances, the Liturgy becomes subject to the distraction of sentimentalism and an occasion for discord (as one frequently witnesses during the Sign of Peace).

One may hear a majority of the congregation reply during the Ordinary Form Universal Prayer, but do the responses actually resonate with the orientation to humble supplication called for by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council. Are members of the congregation merely paying (those intentions) lip service?

The Ordinariate practice points to the supreme intercession and mediation of Jesus Christ that is most clearly seen (heard, touched) in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, what has become known as the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The prayer of the Nicene Creed, which presents us the Holy Trinity to Whom we direct our adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication, merges into the Intercession which depends on credal faith—the Faith of the Apostles—to call us to repentance which in turn prepares us to enter into the Holy of Holies, the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The Ordinariate practice can provide important insights beneficial to the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass. The practice of the Ordinariate can be a useful reminder to pastors who celebrate exclusively the Ordinary Form how to pray coherently the needs of the parish and of the whole Church without the clutter of a litany of competing interests. The use of the models for the Prayers of the Faithful in the Roman Missal may be especially helpful on high holy days, i.e., when the Liturgy may already be considerably longer, and when a unified expression of the parish's intentions is preferable to a prolonged litany of prayers expressed individually.
Form II of the Intercession is to be said by the Priest alone.
Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all men according to their needs.
Almighty and everliving God, who by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make prayers and supplications, and to give thanks for all men: we humbly beseech thee most mercifully to receive these our prayers which we offer unto thy divine majesty, beseeching thee to inspire continually the Universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord; and grant that all they that do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity and godly love.
Give grace, O heavenly Father, to N., our Pope, to N. our Bishop (or to N., our Ordinary), and to all Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, that they may, both by their life and doctrine, set forth thy true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments.
We beseech thee also to lead all nations in the way of righteousness and peace; and so to direct all kings and rulers that under them thy people may be godly and quietly governed. And grant unto thy servant (N. our King/Queen) or (our President N.), and to all that are put in authority under him (her) that they may truly and impartially administer justice to the punishment of wickedness and vice and to the maintenance of thy peace and virtue.
Guide and prosper, we pray thee, those who are labouring for the spread of thy Gospel among the nations, and enlighten with thy Spirit all places of education and learning; that the whole world may be filled with the knowledge of thy truth.
And to all thy people give thy heavenly grace, and specially to this congregation here present; that with meek heart and due reverence, they may hear and receive thy holy Word, truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.
And we most humbly beseech thee of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all them who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.
And we commend to thy gracious keeping, O Lord, all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear, beseeching thee according to thy promises to grant them refreshment, light, and peace.
And here we give thee most high praise and hearty thanks for all thy Saints, who have been the chosen vessels of thy grace and lights of the world in their several generations; and we pray that rejoicing in their fellowship and following their good examples, we may be partakers with them of thy heavenly kingdom.
Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen
The Mass continues with the Penitential Rite.

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