WDTPRS: Pro seipso sacerdote – For the priest himself (1962MR)

Since this is a time of year when new priests are being ordained, and many priests are observing their own anniversaries.  Since today is my anniversary, let’s have a WDTPRS look at the prayers Pro seipso sacerdote.

In the traditional, Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite a priest can add orations for himself, Pro seipso sacerdote, on the anniversary of his ordination.

The 2002MR has three formularies Pro seipso sacerdote while the 1962MR has but one. Let’s look at the prayer in the Extraordinary Form (since that is what I used today).

Omnípotens et miséricors Deus, humilitátis meae preces benígnus inténde: et me fámulum tuum, quem, nullis suffragántibus méritis, sed imménsa cleméntiae tuae largitáte, caeléstibus mystériis servíre tribuísti, dignum sacris altáribus fac minístrum; ut, quod mea voce deprómitur, tua sanctificatióne firmétur.

Almighty and merciful God, kindly hark to the prayers of my humility: and make me, Your servant, whom, no merits of my own favoring me, but by the immense largess of your indulgence, You granted to serve the heavenly mysteries, to be a worthy minister at the sacred altars; so that, that which is called down by my voice, may be made sure by Your sanctification.

The prayer focuses on priest’s self-awareness of his lowliness and that who he is and what he does is from God’s grace and choice and not his own.

It also emphasis the relationship of the priest to the altar, that it, the bond of the priest and Holy Mass.

In the older form of Holy Mass, after the consecration during the Canon at the Suppplices te rogamus… the priest bends low over the altar, puts his hands on it… they were annointed, the altar was annointed… kisses the altar, makes the sign of the Cross over the consecrated Host on the corporal, over the Precious Blood in the chalice, over himself.

Christ is Victim.  Christ is Priest.  The priest is victim and priest as well.

This moment during Holy Mass reveals the mysterious bond of altar where the priest sacrifices the victim, the sacrificial victim and the sacrificing priest.  They are one. At the altar he is alter Christus, another Christ, offering and offered.

What also comes to mind is the Augustinian reflection of the speaker of the Word and the Word spoken, and the message and reality of the Word and the Voice which speaks it.

The voice of the priest and the priest himself are merely the means God uses in the sacred action, the sacramental mysteries at the altar, to renew in that moment what He has wrought.  Finally, this is done through mercy.  The words misericors, clementia, largitas, benignus all point to the mercy of God.

The priest speaks and God makes what he speaks reality.

He takes the insubstantial words and makes them firm and real.

He takes unworthy men and gives them His own power.

How important it is for the priest to get himself out of the way when he is at the altar, where the True Actor is in action, Christ the Eternal and High Priest.

SECRET (1962MR):
Huius, Dómine, virtúte sacraménti, peccatórum meórum máculas abstérge: et praesta; ut ad exsequéndum injúncti offícii ministérium, me tua grátia dignum effíciat.

O Lord, by the power of this sacrament, cleanse the stains of my sins: and grant; that it may make me worthy by Your grace unto the performance of the ministry of the office that has been imposed.

Priests are sinners in need of a Savior just like everyone else.

They confess sins and receive absolution like everyone else.

They, to, must do penance for past sins like everyone else.

They come to the altar as sinners.

In the older Extraordinary form of Holy Mass, the priest is constantly reminded about who he is and who he isn’t.

In this Secret, spoken quietly, the priest prays for what only God can do: remove the stains of sins from his soul.

The prayer brings also to mind the burden of the yoke of the priesthood, symbolized as by the priestly vestment, the chasuble.

As the priest vests he says as he puts on this vestment, “O Lord, Who said: My yoke is easy and My burden light: grant that I may bear it well and follow after You with thanksgiving. Amen.”   The yoke is the ancient sign of subjugation. The ancient Romans caused the conquered to pass under a yoke, iugum.

Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, qui me peccatórem sacris altáribus astáre voluísti, et sancti nóminis tui laudáre poténtiam: concéde propítius, per hujus sacraménti mystérium, meórum mihi véniam peccatórum; ut tuae majestáti digne mérear famulári.

Almighty eternal God, who desired me, a sinner, to stand at the sacred altars, and to praise the might of Your Holy Name: propitiously grant, through the mystery of this sacrament, the forgiveness of my sins for me; so that I may merit to wait upon Your majesty.

On the day of ordination the priest lies down upon the floor.

He is that moment, next to the floor, part of the floor as it were, the lowest thing in the church.

As I read this, I am struck by the two sets of contrasts.

First, there is the contrast of the low state of the servant sinner and the majesty of God.

Second, there is the present moment contrasted with the future to come.

Majestas is like gloria, Hebrew kabod or Greek doxa, a divine characteristic which – some day – we may encounter in heaven in such a way that we will be transformed by it forever and forever.  When Moses encountered God in the cloud on the mountain and in the tent, he came forth with a face shining so brightly that he had to wear a veil.  This is a foreshadowing of the transformative power of God’s majestas.

A priest waits on this majestas.

He waits on it in that he awaits it and waits upon it, serves it, as a waiting waiter he serves it out as well. He desires it for his own future, but in the present moment he waits upon it as a servent.  He is an attendent, in every sense, one who waits and one who waits.

May God have mercy on all priests, sinner servants, attendent on the unmerited grace and gifts of the Victim Priest and Savior.  May God have mercy on me, a sinner.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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27 Responses to WDTPRS: Pro seipso sacerdote – For the priest himself (1962MR)

  1. mike cliffson says:

    Thanks father.
    This is one for us Dads to show our boys. Maybe not them but THEIR sons

  2. That is a beautiful meditation. God bless you, Father Z. And if your own anniversary of ordination is coming up, may the Lord make the light of His face to shine upon you ever more brightly!

  3. Frank H says:

    Romeontherange: As noted in his first paragraph, today IS Father Z’s anniversary! May he be blessed with many more!

  4. jameeka says:

    Happy anniversary!
    Praise the Lord for your service! Thank you.

  5. Rose in NE says:

    Happy anniversary, Father!

  6. Pax--tecum says:

    Reverend Father,
    Happy anniversary! Tu es sacerdos in aeternum, secundum ordinem Melchisedech. Thank you! So today we have three feasts to celebrate: 1. Your ordination anniversary, 2. St. Philippus Nerius, 3. Feast of the Holy Trinity.
    Hip hip hooray!

  7. acardnal says:

    On this day of your priestly anniversary and the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we ask the Lord to bless you “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

  8. Priam1184 says:

    Happy anniversary Father!!

  9. Konstantin says:

    Ad multos annos Father, God bless!

  10. VexillaRegis says:


  11. Phil_NL says:

    congratulations, Fr Z!

  12. Fr Tim Edgar says:

    Thank you Father.
    I hope to offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the first time on the first Thursday of June, – a Votive Mass of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Supreme and Eternal Priest.

  13. cornelius74 says:

    Happy anniversary, dear Fr.Z! May the Holy Trinity look after you not only on this solemnity, but through your life, here in this world and in the world to come as well!

  14. StWinefride says:

    Dear Father Z, Congratulations on the anniversary of your Ordination!

    May God who has begun the good work in you, bring it to fulfillment

  15. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Happy anniversary, Father Z! May Jesus strengthen you and help you always.

  16. Zephyrinus1 says:

    Many congratulations, Fr, on the Anniversary of your Ordination, today.

    We give thanks to God for providing His Church with Priests and we thank you, Fr, for your committed, pastoral and erudite teachings.

    Question: As one can gain a Plenary Indulgence by attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion (subject to the usual conditions) on the Anniversary of one’s First Holy Communion, can a Priest gain the same on his Ordination Anniversary ?

    May God continue to Bless you and support you, Fr, and all Priests.

  17. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. FR. Z!!! Ad multos annos! Thank you for a wonderful meditation, as well. Thank you for saying yes to the Lord.

  18. JKnott says:

    Happy Anniversary Father Z!

  19. Bea says:

    Congratulations Father,
    Thank you for your faithfulness.
    What a wonderful day to be ordained.
    One of my favorite Saints:
    St Phillip Neri
    May he watch over you and guide you always.

  20. JamesA says:

    Many, many thanks and joyful congratulations to you on your anniversary, Father. Personally, I know of no other priest who has formed my view of the Church in general and the liturgy in particular as much as you have. Any goodness in my Catholicism is and will be due in large part to your priestly ministry.
    Ad multos annos ! ! !

  21. Katylamb says:

    Happy anniversary Father Z.

  22. KAS says:

    A blessed anniversary Father Z! Thank you for all you do in service to Christ and His Church.

  23. MarrakeshEspresso says:

    I’m only a little late, but happy anniversary, Father, and God bless you now and always. Thank you for being a priest, and thank you for your ministry online and elsewhere.

    Y’all persevere now, y’hear?

  24. Dustin and Jamie P. says:

    Happy Anniversary, Father! You are in our prayers.

  25. God grant you many years Father :)

  26. JonPatrick says:

    A belated Happy Anniversary Father Z!

    Fr. Tim Edgar, thanks for adding another brick to the rebuilding of the Church’s liturgy.

  27. Londiniensis says:

    Congratulations and Prayers for your Anniversary, Father. Ad multos annos!