ASK FATHER: Do I have to say “Amen” for weird Prayers of the Faithful at Mass?

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

Are we required to join in the prayers of the faithful at Mass?

Sometimes these can be excruciatingly political and occasionally downright wrong.

For instance, on the recent solemnity of Our Lady Help of Christians (I’m Australian and she is one of our national principal patrons), my wife and I attended Mass. During the prayers of the faithful, most were in keeping with the feast and had a Marian slant as you would expect, however one said (paraphrased, but not exaggerating) “We pray for Muslims, that we can come to value their understanding, faith and courage”[Huh?  “for Muslims…. that WE…”.  Stupid.]

Given the whole Our Lady of Victories thing, surely this is not just out of place, but offensive on such a feast. Which brings me to my point. My wife and I both said nothing during the response, but is this licit? Are we required to join in a prayer that is obviously out of keeping with the faith? What should we do? Our parish is the cathedral for our diocese, by the way.

Thanks as always – my wife loves your answers, particularly the regular GO TO CONFESSION refrain. We need it!

Prayers of the faithful…. oh boy.

When I’ve been at a church as a visitor and the prayers of the faithful are coming at us, as inescapable as a train in a tunnel, I invariably think: “How bad is this going to be?”  If I don’t hear something inept, or dumb, or just plain strange, I’m relieved.

We’ve all heard weird prayers of the faithful during Masses.  Some of them are head-pounding-on-the-pew stupid.  The spontaneous ones are The Worst™.

There are, I believe, templates provided for prayers of the faithful.  While not “handcrafted” for this community, they tend to be a) brief and b) not heretical.

The recommended order for intentions given in the Missal is as follows.

  1. For the needs of the Church
  2. For the world
  3. For those in need
  4. For the local community

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Heck, I’d consider saying, “For the needs of the Church, we pray to the Lord… Lord, hear our prayer.  For the world, we pray to the Lord…” and so forth.

Do you have to say “Amen!” to something that you know is off the wall?

No.

However, if the prayer is in the least reasonable, as the first part of the prayer you mentioned was reasonable, then you probably should say “Amen” and sincerely mean it.

It seems that a lot of these prayers start with something or someone worthy of prayer.  For the …. X…. the poor, dying, sick, our nation, the Pope, vocations, travelers, elected politicians, etc.  It is in the second part that the writer can often go to the zoo.

Let’s have a POLL.

There are many possible options, but pick the one that best fits your situation.  Anyone can vote.  Registered users can comment… and I hope you will.

Prayers of the Faithful during Novus Ordo Masses

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And let me just say: GO TO CONFESSION!

Do I hear and “Amen!”?

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36 Responses to ASK FATHER: Do I have to say “Amen” for weird Prayers of the Faithful at Mass?

  1. Cornelius says:

    Stupidest prayer of the faithful I’ve ever heard: “That we stop oppressing racial minorities.”

    Come now. I’m not aware of oppressing anyone, and I’m a racial minority myself, so tell me again how I’m oppressing racial minorities?

  2. Where I am we subscribe to a subscription that mails you prayers if the faithful for every Sunday and Holy Day throughout the year. They are bleh. The secretary edits them into what we use at Mass. The pastor never even sees them prior to the first vigil Mass. On a few occasions I have had to cull the prayers to use at Mass, and believe me I edit heavily.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    I warmly recommend “Prayers of the Faithful” by Bishop Peter J. Elliot, author of “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite”. Orthodox and succinct. A parish or chapel cannot go wrong with these:

    US HERE – UK HERE

    The only downside is that it is only for Sundays, Holy Days, and major feasts. I wish he would publish one for weekdays!

  4. Il Ratzingeriano says:

    Reason # 8 for Sommorum Pontificum.

  5. Charles E Flynn says:

    I distinctly recall declining to speak the response “Lord, hear our prayer” after a particularly silly alleged “prayer of the faithful” that was nothing but an insult directed solely at people who hold doctoral degrees, who were alleged to be oppressing the congregation.

    When such idiotic things occur during mass, I amuse myself by thinking of what would be reported if masses were monitored the way rocket launches are:

    “Obviously, a major malfunction. Engineers are looking very closely at their consoles. The flight dynamics officer has reported that the vehicle has exploded.”

  6. G1j says:

    At our Parish(very small) the prayers are mostly well crafted and we are encouraged to add our own intentions (in turn) if we desire to do so. We value this and often the priest adds (if no one has any additional intentions) “ for those intentions we hold in the silence of our hearts” . Everything is always most respectful, reverent, and well intentioned. I have found that this does strengthen a bond of community and allows parishioners to share in the grace we all hope to receive from the intentions. In many parish communities, I have seen a big divide and little to no fellowship and community. By sharing in the prayers of the faithful, we can hopefully alleviate this to a small degree.

  7. Josephus Corvus says:

    When they have the shout-out for the daily Mass, I am so tempted to say something like “For the Muslims that they give up their pagan worship and come to know You the true and only God.” Or maybe “for our pastor, that he learns to say the black and do the red.” I bet I’d get a talking to for either of those :)

    The other useless ones are those that I call the “sermonizing prayers”. They aren’t really prayers at all, but are trying to get the people to do something. Example: “That we are all give generously to my fund appeal, we pray to the Lord….”

  8. MrsMacD says:

    Did Vatican II actually ask for this or is it an abuse? I was at a Funeral Mass once where the prayers of the faithful, said by a friend, were the only thing that told me I was at a Catholic Funeral. But mostly I just find them squeemish, wishy washy, and all butterflys and bubbles and luv.

  9. MGL says:

    This is (yet) another way in which the Anglican Ordinariate’s Divine Worship is superior to the Novus Ordo, in addition to the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the propers, plainchant, ad orientem worship, and the Last Gospel, among others. Following the Nicene Creed, the priest recites the Prayers of the People, always in one of two unvarying forms laid out in the Missal, for the Church, her ministers and faithful, for those in need, and for our leaders and governors. Even if the priests were so inclined (and they aren’t), there’s simply no scope for the ad hoc concoctions that plague the Novus Ordo.

    It’s almost as if Divine Worship’s authors took a hard look at the “developments” associated with almost 50 years of Novus Ordo practice, and ran as fast as possible in the other direction.

  10. oldCatholigirl says:

    You forgot to include the one I would have checked: “they’re OK where I regularly go, so I’m OK with praying them,” or something to that effect. When I have attended Mass at our cathedral, sometimes (depending on the priest) there are rather drawn out extemporaneous petitions, mostly from the small group huddled together up front. I, like other normal Catholics, am with the rest who are spread out all over the place, preferably near the back–so I cannot hear most of the petitions. I just respond anyway out of fellowship/solidarity/good nature/habit, trusting that I’m not endorsing heresy. Once, 30 or so years ago, at the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky, they prayed that Pope John Paul II would better understand women. (!) I most certainly did not respond to that. So I can’t say I’m indifferent to what is said. (As an aside: I hope they’ve reconsidered some things since then–including replacing the microwave-like black box on the side with a real tabernacle .

  11. “The recommended order for intentions…”

    Therein lies the problem. “Recommended” implies “not mandatory,” and “optional,” and thus may be disregarded. That is in fact a fundamental problem with the Novus Ordo Missae — because whatever people can do, they will do, sooner or later.

  12. will99lang says:

    I remind: “We pray for Muslims, that we can come to value their understanding, faith and courage”. [Huh? “for Muslims…. that WE…”. Stupid.]

    Well lets look at the bright side. At least the church was praying that we be as courageous in our faith as they are in theirs. And also that we show as much understanding of other’s religions and cultures as they do. I’d say it was the perfect prayer for anyone who are not faithful and who are tolerant. Just imagine:

    After Mass:

    Parishioner: “Father, I heard your prayers of the faithful today and was filled by the Holy Spirit!!! I took the resolution that I will fast for the whole season of Lent, that I will pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and that I will go die as a Martyr in the Middle East! I will proclaim the Christian faith to these infidels!”

    Father: “..?!?!…”

  13. exNOAAman says:

    I didn’t need to think twice about my vote. I’ve long hoped for the elimination of the POTF, because it wide open for abuse, and often is.
    One (fairly harmless) version that I don’t think was mentioned is the “announcement” prayers sort of like “for a blessing on our Wednesday bible study which starts next week and is normally at 7 pm but the first two weeks are at 730, and it’s in classroom 4, and we still need someone to bring snacks. May we pray to the Lord”

  14. Nan says:

    Hasn’t anyone told you that conservative, traditional or (gasp!) Republican cancels out minority? You’re functionally a white man, no matter your skin color or sex.

  15. Nan says:

    One of many things absent in the Divine Liturgy so no need for me to have an opinion.

  16. Volanges says:

    I, too, would have liked “they’re OK where I am” as a choice.

    Our parish generally uses the ones published by Novalis in their weekly missalette, but we add one for the sick, one for the dead, and we always end with one similar to this: “For our own personal intentions (pause) and for all the intentions written in our book, we pray to the Lord.” We keep a binder at the back of the church where people write their prayer intentions. I have never read anything inappropriate written down; it’s usually simply a name and either a notation that they are ill, or have died, or asking for prayers as they search for a job, or move, etc.

    As a reader, I have once or twice edited as I read, if something was too specific. In particular the prayer for the dead when it says “for our friends who have died”. I will usually just say “for those who have died.”

  17. Angelo Tan says:

    I like the Oratio Fidelium. But the Universal Church must have a strict or narrow form, such in Rome, wherein the Deacon announces the “Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco” or the specific need, so we could have one format while respecting each culture’s adaptation to the needs. Otherwise, the priest or another minister, as provided in the GIRM.

  18. hwriggles4 says:

    In my diocese (and other dioceses do this too) our previous bishop mandated that one of the prayers of the faithful be “for vocations to the priesthood.” I believe our newer bishop, a former seminary rector of a college seminary, has continued this.

    I went to a permanent diaconate ordination yesterday. This was only the second time I had met our newer bishop. I could tell he wanted to be there. He mentioned in his homily that not long after arriving in our diocese, he personally took the time out of his busy schedule to interview and meet these 27 men. I was impressed – I thanked the bishop for is willingness to enter the trenches.

  19. grumpyoldCatholic says:

    Simple solution. Quit going to NO mass and find a church that has the EF Mass

  20. Josephus Corvus says:

    Another addition to Stupid Prayer of the Faithful Tricks. Not sure if this is an abuse or just dumb, but how about changing the response from “Lord, hear our prayer” to something more “meaningful” for the day. Like today (Corpus Christi) saying something like “Nourishing God, feed us.” As a response it makes absolutely no sense after something like “For So And So who died this week, we pray to the Lord:”

  21. bushboar says:

    I don’t mind them at the NO parish I go to sometimes because the pastor is pretty solidly conservative. He always includes “For an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life…” and after a tragedy like a shooting he always adds one for the victims AND the perpetrator, which is a very Christian but not always popular thing to do.

  22. An appendix of the Roman Missal has a collection of General Intercessions for various seasons and occasions of the year. If I was a pastor, the parish would use only them. If I was a bishop, my diocese would use only them. This would end any controversy associated with them.

  23. Danteewoo says:

    Thank you for criticizing the Prayers of the Faithful.” I call them the “Platitudes of the Faithful” and pay little attention except to note how insipid so many are. Far too often they sound as if they are taken from Bernie Sanders campaign literature. If the Church prides herself on stupid rites at Mass, she shouldn’t be surprised when people no longer take her seriously.

  24. Alexander Verbum says:

    What the the big deal with the prayer about Muslims?

    Why, the “great saint” John Paul II had a prayer for them as well:

    “May Saint John Baptist protect Islam and all the people of Jordan, and all who partecipated in this celebration, a memorable celebration”

    https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/travels/2000/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20000321_wadi-al-kharrar.html

    [Try this: read the prayer in top post and think about it.]

  25. Benedict Joseph says:

    And I thought I was the only one.
    I never heard anyone else complain about this gibberish.
    Of course, there is no likelihood in my life time that they will be eradicated, but some day.

  26. KateD says:

    What a great question! I have wondered that too!

    Since the Mass may be celebrated just fine without anyone other than the priest and it’s perfectly fine to remain silent at the traditional Mass, I figure I can keep mum about anything I like at the new Mass, too. I don’t say amen to weird stuff or even to “a special intention for so-and-so”. If I don’t know what I’m praying for, I’m not praying for it. That’s like the healthcare bill logic of you’ve gotta pass it to read it….No thanks.

  27. Volanges says:

    grumpyoldCatholic, that’s easier said than done. I’d have to travel about 800 miles to find an E.F. Mass.

  28. TonyO says:

    I find myself emotionally indifferent to the prayer as it occurs in the middle of mass, but I always just assumed that this is somewhat of a defect in myself: why would it NOT be good to pray for the Church, the world, and those in need, in specific terms?

    On the other hand, the entire mass is for the good of the Church, and the world.

    On the other hand, each mass is also offered for a specific individual, by the priest saying the mass.

    Fr. Z, how about doing some of your famous digging: is this part of the Mass explained by the Church, and presented as an integral and wholesome (if not definitively necessary) part of the Mass? How does it fit? How was it foreshadowed by the Old Covenant practices? When was it first used? Are there examples of not just bearable but excellent prayers of the faithful? What if the Church simply prescribed the entire prayer, as she does most other parts of the Mass? (It could vary with the Mass the way the collect does).

  29. darius says:

    Heard just this morning: “that ALL baptized Christians be able to receive communion.. ”

    That raises a lot of questions.. and in the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.. is just plain distracting..

  30. maternalView says:

    I’d prefer to not have them. Mostly because I’m not sure anyone is actually listening to them and because they often sound like boilerplate.

    Imagine my surprise when I head a petition for Charlie Gard last summer and for Ireland’s vote a few weeks ago. And I thought someone’s paying attention! Things we really should be praying for!

    I wonder with the halfhearted and generic petitions do they even count for anything? Surely God knows no one is seriously praying these things. I’m pretty sure most folks just answer automatically. The response is equal to the quality of petitions.

    I don’t respond to any petition not worthy of prayer. And I say “Lord, hear our prayer” regardless of the phrase the liturgical committee wants us to say that week.

  31. Geoffrey says:

    I think the Prayers of the Faithful can be a good thing, but there seems to be no regulation as far as their text. There are several resources out there, the most orthodox of which I posted above. I don’t know if the Holy See ever published something official in Latin…

  32. Grant M says:

    Here’s a prayer-announcement for the prayers of the faithful:

    “We pray for the Muslims that we may value their faith, courage and fervour. Lest this remain just an empty sentiment, this parish is instituting the following specific measures:

    All parishioners are required to pray the Divine office at least five times a day. Wherever you are, ignore your co-workers, kneel down facing east, and recite the office in Latin from memory. Just do it!

    There will be Mass daily here before dawn. Be there.

    Women attending Mass are required to cover their hair and neck, and wear shapeless ankle-length garments. They are required to sit apart from the men at the back of the church.

    Mass henceforth will be in Latin and ad orientem.

    During Lent all must avoid all food and drink, including water, during the daytime. You may eat and drink as much as you like at nighttime however (except alcohol of course).

    In our Catholic school, all pupils must learn to chant the Vulgate in Latin and to interpret numerous verses. Certain key passages (eg John 6) must be memorized in their entirety in Latin. Tradition is also important, so pupils must become acquainted with key extracts from Augustine, Aquinas and certain of the other Fathers and Doctors, in Latin where applicable.

    There will be a pilgrimage to Rome in August. You must join us if you can afford it.

    Lord in your mercy…”

    Congregation: ??!!??

    That’ll make ’em flock to the SSPX as the liberal alternative…

  33. Kathleen Ann says:

    what passes as prayers reflect the “democratization” of the People’s church which most definitely NOT a Catholic church…it is the politics of a “Jesus” organization where the “People speak and are Heard.” Its “their” church after all, not God’s church!

  34. Andrew says:

    “Do I have to say ‘Amen’?”

    I wonder what would make anyone ask such a question. The way I understand it: the only obligation I have is to attend a Sunday Mass. I can choose to be completely quiet (which is what I do most of the time). I can sit or stand, say something or say nothing, as long as I am present and I don’t disrupt the ceremony, I have fulfilled my obligation.

    I’ve been a Catholic going into the seventh decade now and I hope I didn’t get this wrong. (I picked this attitude up long before Vatican II. In those days there was a lot of freedom)

  35. aquinas138 says:

    I think the prayers of the faithful are a good addition, but they should not be left totally to the discretion of whoever has been put in charge of them. I think an adaptation of the Byzantine Rite’s Litany of Peace makes sense:

    Deacon: In peace, let us pray to the Lord.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.
    Deacon: For peace from on high and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.
    Deacon: For peace in the whole world, for the stability of the holy Churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.
    Deacon: For this holy church and for all who enter it with faith, reverence, and fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.
    Deacon: For our holy father Francis, Pope of Rome, let us pray to the Lord.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.
    Deacon: For our most reverend Metropolitan (Name), for our God-loving Bishop (Name), for the venerable presbyterate, the diaconate in Christ, and all the clergy and people, let us pray to the Lord.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.
    Deacon: For our government and for all in the service of our country, let us pray to the Lord.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.
    Deacon: For this city, for every city, community, and for the faithful living in them, let us pray to the Lord.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.
    Deacon: For favorable weather, for an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.
    Deacon: For those who travel by sea, air, and land, for the sick, the suffering, the captive and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.

    [Special petitions, including those for the deceased, may be inserted here.]

    Deacon: That we be delivered from all affliction, wrath, and need, let us pray to the Lord.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.
    Deacon: Protect us, save us, have mercy on us, and preserve us, O God, by your grace.
    Response: Lord, have mercy.
    Deacon: Commemorating our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.
    Response: To You, O Lord.

    Priest (in a low voice): Lord, our God, whose power is beyond compare, and glory is beyond understanding; whose mercy is boundless, and love for us is ineffable; look upon us and upon this holy house in Your compassion. Grant to us and to those who pray with us Your abundant mercy.

    Priest (aloud): For to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is due all glory, honor, and worship, now and ever and forever.
    People: Amen.

  36. MichaelDowd says:

    Eliminate the prayers of the faithful for a couple of reasons:

    —-They are not the prayers of the faithful as they often are much too specific.
    —-The prayers are often tainted with Social Justice (Progressive /Democrat) political initiatives.
    —-There are way to many prayers as they try to cover all the bases.