POLL: Prayers of the faithful during Mass

I posted a story about a Catholic liturgical publisher developing and distributing a "prayer of the faithful" for Mass which extolled the late Sen. Kennedy.

That small dust up raised another question in my mind.

I am sure you have heard some pretty weird "prayers of the faithful at Mass".

When I am at a church and hearing Mass somewhere, for some reason, this is one of those moments when I always hold my breath: "How bad is this going to be?"

The worst things happen when there is any improvisation, spontaneous prayers.

There are, however, templates provided in the Missal for prayers of the faithful.  Sure, that may seem a little "impersonal" in a sense, but at least using an approved template avoids the bias, the bizarre, the heretical, and often just plain stupid ramblings we sometimes hear at Mass.

So… the prayers of the faithful…

What do you think?

Even assuming the very best, that the prayers of the faithful are done well where you are, is this element of the Mass with the Novus Ordo important to you?

I have in mind even, perhaps, week day Masses wherein a smaller slice, a more involved slice of the parish community can even pray for people who are ill or who have passes away, etc.

What do you think?



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Tom Ryan says:

    Once in my travelers, I heard: “That my girlfriend’s IUD not fail again…Lord hear our prayer. For an end to judgementalism and all unkindness…Lord hear our prayer.”

    First time I’ve ever walked out and I’ve seen a lot including illicit matter consecrated.

  2. cwillia1 says:

    “I am okay with them, provided they are done properly.”

    They always seem to be shallow, tacky and tendentious. Are they ever done properly?

    I mentioned the Great Litany of the Divine Liturgy in another post. It is a model for what could be done in the NO. I find that it helps me to recollect my own intercessions. It is very important that the intercessions be 95% fixed.

  3. FrFenton says:

    Well, I voted the third category, since only on Sunday Masses do they occur here. For weekday Mass I generally omit them. We don’t do any from the nave!

  4. Eoin Suibhne says:

    “When I am at a church and hearing Mass somewhere, for some reason, this is one of those moments when I always hold my breath: ‘How bad is this going to be?'”

    Same for me, which is why I wish there were done away with. The very knowledge that they are coming – in their insipid glory – is a distraction.

  5. Briangar21 says:

    I think that “omitting” the prayers of the faithful may say something about the mindset of the Presider. If some of the prayers may seem “messy” or “improper”, it may just be because life is somewhat messy.

  6. Eoin Suibhne says:

    I was a bit harsh. They are not all insipid, of course. It’s the cringe-inducing ones that are such a distraction.

  7. Briangar21 says:

    By the way, what does “hearing Mass” exactly mean?

  8. Tom A. says:

    I just as assume they were ommitted. The temptation to introduce error is too great.

  9. Fr Martin Fox says:

    On what basis would a celebrant omit these prayers from Mass (other than him offering it privately)? I assumed they were called for, not optional, in the ordinary form; however, this is not something I’ve looked into.

    In my two parishes, we had the custom of the faithful offering their own petitions near the conclusion of these prayers. I ended that; at one parish, we have folks praying the liturgy of the hours, and I suggested they could do that, then. At the other parish, I just stopped it.

    At the first parish, we use the same petitions from Sunday; at the other, the priest will improvise, although I have been using the prayers in the sacramentary.
    Also, at both parishes, the last petition will be something like, we now pray for one another’s personal needs and intentions…(pause)…we pray to the Lord…. We also have a book in the 24-hour chapel where folks are welcome to write prayer intentions, and we remember those when we have Mass in the chapel.

    The two things that, if omitted, will cause the greatest reaction are:

    > Not praying for members of the military
    > Not mentioning the celebrant’s intention for that Mass

    I imagine the same would be true if we omitted intentions for prolife or for vocations, but that hasn’t been a problem.

  10. Andrew says:

    I thought I remembered reading in the Organic Development of the Liturgy that bringing the prayers of the faithful in was actually a restoration of an older practice… but there was no mention of what they looked like originally and when they were there and when they were taken away in the past. I have been wondering about that, does anyone know anything of that?
    Personally I don’t mind them there if they are done well. I feel somewhat irked when at some parishes the priest lets the lay people say their intentions from around the Church until everyone is finished (weekday Masses), but yet I have never heard anybody pray for anything bad or disruptive so I am not for sure why it bothers me. If anything, except that in general I don’t like lay people doing so much during the Mass because so often they are running around doing things they shouldn’t be rather than true active lay involvement, it seems perhaps more authentic than the one priest or reader leading them.
    Also even though I don’t mind them done well, I find that nearly every Mass I use the time (when it is just the priest or the reader leading them like on Sundays) as a breathing space after the homily to think or pray and never really hear them anyway. So maybe the problem is it just becomes one more busy activity for me rather than helping me pray.

  11. youngcatholicstl says:

    Fr. Z – Are alternative responses other than “Lord, Hear Our Prayer” permissible during the prayers of the faithful?

    I was recently at a Catholic “Megachurch” in the neighboring Archdiocese. In between the guitar playing (thank God they didn’t use the bongos that were sitting there) and the 22 E.Ministers (Yes, 22!!! and two priests!!!!), the prayers of the faithful used the response “Open Our Hearts, Lord”. Is that licit? Is it permissible to have a response other than “Lord Hear Our Prayer”? When the response was projected on the wall (yes, they have projectors and a sound board guy with two computers to manage them), I heard the lady in the pew behind me say to her husband, “Wow, that’s a new one.” My wife and I couldn’t help but laugh. Needless to say, we won’t be returning to this parish anytime soon. Thanks for keeping a blog. Please keep up the good work!

  12. Sid says:

    First and foremost: Pastors and celebrants by all means ought omit the deadly words “And what else shall be pray for?” — an “Concealed Prayer Permit” for prayers that oughtn’t be prayed. In fact, pastors and celebrants might do well to omit the Prayers of the Faithful altogether.

    Furthermore, among the many problems with the NO is the robbing from the Divine Office what belongs properly in the Divine Office. By so doing, the Office is reduced to being even more of orphan and even less common to Catholic piety and liturgical practice. 1)Hymns, 2)the responsorial psalm, and 3)the prayers of the faithful strike me as alien to the form and purpose Holy Mass; they fit the Office’s form and purpose, and so belong in the Office. Put differently, we already have a liturgical place for these things: the Office, and we ought so use that place.

    And public prayer of the Divine Office — at least Lauds and Vespers — belongs to a parish’s life; private prayer of the Office belongs to literate Catholics’ lives. Fortunately, one of the few good post-V2 liturgical reforms is the reform of the Office, enabling busy moderns to still find the time to pray the Office. Anyone for a new organization: The Confraternity of Lay Canons of the Divine Office?

  13. lmgilbert says:

    At daily Mass, every day the very same prayers from the very same people: For the poor souls in purgatory, for wisdom and guidance, for vocations, for an end to abortion. In fact, there are usually three to four abortion related prayers. The same prayers from the same people. It drives me nuts, or it used to.

    After a time, it becomes interesting.

    Why so many prayers for the poor souls and none for the conversion of this city, or for the education of our children? Why are we not more interested in getting souls INTO purgatory? Of course I am against abortion, but after awhile it becomes evident that the religious energy that could have gone, should have gone into evangelization has gone into stopping abortion and getting souls out of purgatory. We have no command to stop abortion. We have no command to get souls out of purgatory. We do have a command to evangelize and to raise our children in the faith. We are not doing it. If we had, there would be little abortion, and there would be a wonderful lot of souls in purgatory- the way station to heaven.

    And then there are the duelling prayers. Recently, the priest preached very liberal sermon after which someone prayed that we would not become a communist country. Immediately and with some ferocity, the lady behind him prayed that the Lord would keep us from Nazism.

    These prayers add a good 7 to 10 minutes to the Mass. As you can tell, though, it’s been wonderful for my patience.

  14. Jacob says:

    Is ‘Prayer of the Faithful’ really the /official/ term? When I was growing up in a parish with the OCP seasonal missalettes, in the Order of Mass, it was always called ‘General Intercessions,’ which for some reason in my mind just sounds more official and Catholic than ‘Prayer of the Faithful.’

    In any case, when done right, I am all for them. In two of my old parishes, they were pretty much laundry lists of the sick and the dead, nothing at all controversial.

  15. BLC says:

    “When I am at a church and hearing Mass somewhere, for some reason, this is one of those moments when I always hold my breath: ‘How bad is this going to be?’”

    Same for me, which is why I wish there were done away with. The very knowledge that they are coming – in their insipid glory – is a distraction.


    I agree with that completely. I very, very rarely attend the OF – usually only if it is a choice between that or missing my Sunday obligation – but every time I’ve experienced this, the prayers are full of ‘social justice’ leftist stuff and very little about vocations, pro-life, etc. My opinion doesn’t count for much because I don’t really go to the OF, but if they could get rid of both those & the Sign of Peace I’d be less uncomfortable when I go to it (I’m a convert, came into the faith EF-only – FSSP chapel – so not really used to the OF Mass as is…)

  16. Leonius says:

    At my home parish they are ok because the priest himself is the one who does them, but when I go to other parishes where they are done by laity they are usually awful reflections of secular humanistic aims and desires and reveal grave misunderstandings among the faithful about the faith, as such they often have the effect of teaching error among the faithful, the blind leading the blind if you will.

  17. mpm says:

    My selection was the first one. In our parish, the pastor has the prayers, and their response (no, “Lord, Hear our prayer!” is not mandatory), written into page 2 of the bulletin, which is available before Mass on Sundays, so there is no ad-libbing, and the petitions are appropriate.

    When the NO first came out, this little innovation was a prime place for total performance art, and I dreaded it. I no longer do, when the petitions are done properly, and I believe they are a throwback to the litanies and what in England are/were called the “bidding prayers” (evidenced in Prof. Eamon Duffy’s Stripping of the Altars).

    As to content, I think Fr. Fox’s four themes are always mentioned. There is always an intercession for the Pope and the bishops in communion with him. Since there are quite a few members of the parish who serve actively in one or another of the Services, they are remembered there in general, and elsewhere in the bulletin, their names are listed individually, as are those of the homebound elderly and sick, for whom there is also a general intercession usually. Occasionally, the celebrant will add an intention relevant for the day (someone has died or is gravely ill) or season, but that is it.

    There is no performance art, and people seem to pray them sincerely, thanks be to God.

  18. mitch_wa says:

    I wish for the NO either bidding prayers in the style of the Sarum Use would be adopted or a litany like the one in the Divine Liturgy be used. Both would be great. Either way the prayers would be (with the Sarum) unique to each Sunday/occasion, or with a litany the same at each one, both would be an improvement.

    At my home parish the priest does them so its not bad, at my school students are allowed to say them at weekday Masses(depending on the celebrant) but kids who go to daily Mass usually have good ones concerning things like: serving the poor, the campus being committed to Christ, that sick would be healed. We usually don’t get goofy things.

  19. Dr. K says:

    At one parish I attended the priest turned the prayers of the faithful over to the people in the pews, having them shout out their intentions. This was a Sunday liturgy (I realize this is done frequently at weekday Masses). After an elderly woman prayed for the success of her husband’s surgery, a man raised his voice and said the following, verbatim: “That the Church will take off its blinders towards homosexuals and treat us as equals, Lord hear our prayer.” What exactly he was referring to (gay marriage?), I am uncertain. When the priest allows people to shout out intentions, they risk almost anything being said. It’s a practice that should cease immediately.

    ~Dr. K

  20. mpm says:

    Comment by Dr. K — 12 September 2009 @ 10:32 am

    I feel your pain.

    If they’re going to throw it out for “participatory” bidding prayers, maybe there should be a special response for those who don’t agree:

    “Non placet!”

  21. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Notre Dame Univ., May 1995. Noon Mass, well-attended by young men and women in military uniform, in the middle of their ROTC training exercises. The priest exhorts the faithful to “share their own intentions”. A young woman offers this gem of Christian charity: “That Notre Dame may come to terms with the non-violent Jesus, and recognize that ROTC should have no place on this campus, let us pray to the Lord.” A few embarassed people murmur “Lord, hear our prayer.” The priest looks utterly mortified, but manages to parry her attack on her fellow congregants with “That the Lord may bless and protect all the men and women who serve in our armed forces, let us pray to the Lord.” The faithful positively shout “Lord, hear our prayer.” The young woman shakes her head in saddened condescension at our ignorance.

    Would but that this were the only time in my life I have ever seen and heard such a thing.

  22. Kate says:

    I voted “indifferent”, but in reality, I am not. I do not like them (for many of the reasons listed here); I find they are often “new agey” (especially, but not always, when the congregation is allowed to shout out their intentions).

  23. mpm says:

    {Generalization alert}

    The problem that Gregory DiPippo illustrates rather well, is the kind of “injustice” that has been perpetrated on the faithful with the cram-down practices post NO promulgation as articulated by a certain rather perceptive philosopher whose name I will not mention in vain.

    Axiom: No Catholic should be put in the position of being apprehensive about anything that occurs in any liturgical act.

    Corollary: If you feel like an activist this morning, go sit in the crying room with the other babies.

  24. TRAD60 says:

    I voted “not done at the Masses I attend” because I do not attend the Mass of Paul VI. Because I do not attend that Mass, I really am indifferent toward it’s prayers and rubrics, and I probably should not even comment but I will. The prayers of the faithful are imbued with the “community” spirit of the 1960’s, just like much of the rest of that form of Mass. To discontinue them would be an improvement.

  25. biberin says:

    Ours are excellent. I think they come from the diocese and are modified locally by our very orthodox clergy. Years ago we were invited to add, but that stopped at some point. On weekdays, the deacon ad libs a customary set and we are asked if there is anything else we want to pray for. I’ve never heard anything inappropriate from anyone. That said, I didn’t know the rules when I first started going, and for several weekends in a row, I added a very specific, very serious petition. And then the weekend after, I was able to add “In thanksgiving. . .” and there was an audible sigh in response. In retrospect, I know the whole thing was inappropriate, but it was really neat to me, as a convert-to-be, to know that the whole congregation really *was* praying for my intention and celebrated the answer.

  26. Sid says:

    Andrew @1001hrs raise a good point. Liberal liturgists and other assorted bullies — always guilty of the error of Primitivism and tinker, tinker, tinker — claim that 1) the Prayers of the Faithful, 2) hymn singing, 3) the three readings, 4) the Psalm after the reading, 5) the Memorial Acclamation, 6) the communal sign of peace, and 7) Communion in the hand were the practice of “The Early Church”. I would ask, with respect to the prayers of the faithful, Do any of y’all know any document of the Roman Rite before Gregory the Great that mandates this practice, that shows how it is to be done, and then quotes these prayers as they were actually said? Heck, do we have any Missal and Ordo at all before Gregory? Just asking.

    If memory serves me right, these things were gone by the time of Gregory. What I suspect happened was that by Gregory’s time the Roman Rite had learned the lesson that the prayers of the faithful were wanting in decorum and distracting from the order of the Roman Rite, a Rite with its own particular style, a style of words and action which can hardly be called florid, Rococo, Donnybrook, or Showboating. Since V2 we are re-learning the lesson — the hard way.

    I say “The Roman Rite” or “The Latin Rite” on purpose. In seminary I found a host of seminarians and officials who wanted to be anything and everything except “Roman”. One seminarian, a transfer from a seminary in Wisconsin, said that he was required to attend Moravian Love Feasts in chapel as part of a Catholic practice. The Anglican style was particularly popular among the seminary’s circle of homosexuals. We even had, during a dubious “Ecumenical Week”, Cranmerian Morning Song and Evensong instead of Lauds and Vespers. The rest were hardly distinguishable from Latter-Day Lutherans.

  27. TNCath says:

    I have found that most of these “missalette” companies that also publish books of the Prayers of the Faithful have some of the worst petitions I have ever read.

    Following a close second are extemporaneous celebrants who, on the spot, ad lib incomprehensibly inane petitions. I specifically remember one, and, no, I am not making this up: “For ourselves, that we who are the Church, the Body of Christ, may recognize the needs of others and respond to them with that Christian charity which comes from God and is present to us in our brothers and sisters in union with the Holy Spirit. We pray to the Lord…”

  28. Bogna says:

    Here is an example of good prayer of the faithful:

    That the prayer and worship of the Church may inspire her members to live their faith more fully each day, we pray to the Lord.

    That the pope, bishops, priest and religious may be encouraged by the Spirit as they teach all people around the world the Good News, we pray to the Lord.

    That Christians everywhere will embrace their call to seek greater justice in our world, where the life, dignity and rights of the born and unborn are respected and defended, we pray to the Lord.

    For attorneys, judges, and all who work in our courts, that they may grow in wisdom and in their commitment to justice tempered with mercy, we pray to the Lord.

    That those who have died believing in Christ may enjoy the glory of the heavenly kingdom, we pray to the Lord.

    From “Priests for Life” newsletter

  29. I personally don’t see anything wrong with them as long as people are not asking for wonky intentions. At one of the Masses I attended in southern California, the priest asked that the university’s endowment campagin be successful and that God triple what they have. I almost lost my temper on that one.

    I agree with Mitch that fixed litanies would be very nice. The Eastern Churches have them, why can’t we? Also, the Liturgy of the Hours have litanies for every single week day of the year? It’s not that big of a jump if you think about it rationally and logically.

  30. Joanne says:

    I voted okay with, but I wouldn’t really miss them if they were gone. The OF parish I attend does them well, although they are read by a lay reader, not a priest, which would be nicer, esp when the names of the recently deceased (for whom there have been/will be funerals) are read. We include petitions for all military service members, and the lector reads the specific names of the parish military people who are serving.

    Other petitions include prayers for an end to abortion, and for the health of the sick and those who care for the sick. “Those who care for the sick” is a wonderful inclusion, imo, since the onus of illness falls heavily on them as well. I’m a nurse and I guess I include nurses in the “those who care for the sick” category too – whether that is the intention of the petition or not!

  31. Joanne says:

    PS – oops, meant to say that I vote “under no circumstances” should the laity be able to call out their own specific intentions.

  32. Jordanes says:

    One of the most awful petitions I’ve ever heard at Mass was just a few Sundays ago. We were asked to pray that the leaders of all nations will take action “so that no one will suffer the effects of global climate change.” Since the only possible way God could answer that prayer would be for Him to prompt our leaders to slaughter every human being on earth, I decided it was best that I not add my, “Lord, hear our prayer,” to the unthinking reflexive response of the congregation.

    I brought that petition up after Mass with one of the deacons. He was concerned too and said he’d talk to the person who prepares the petitions.

  33. I’m not indifferent either. I think they are a right pain in a certain place. I always find myself bracing for what is going to be prayed for, when I should be enjoying myself worshipping among the choirs of angels.

    At the parish I attend now there is rarely any directly offensive content (but there may be highly ambiguous formulations), while at my former parish, I once heard a prayer that “The Church, who so often tries to cling to worldly power, may realize blah blah.”

    In the hands of an orthodox priest they may be used acceptably, but in the wrong hands (which are quite abundant these days) they can be a complete disaster. And by no means whatsoever should there be an “open prayer” slot – the examples of horridly scandalous comments given above show how easily they can be abused to spread pernicious error, heresy, even demonic influences (as I have experienced in my former Protestant community).

    The risk of scandal, spreading of error and profanation of the sacred action is simply too great to give this well-intentioned but ill-conceived initiative any reason to continue. If the faithful of a parish want to pray together for some laudable intention, they can meet outside the Mass – preferably in connection with Mass or Vespers/Compline – and pray the Rosary and prayers approved by the Ordinary of the place, as has been the custom since time immemorial.

  34. BenFischer says:

    I always thought the Prayers of the Faithful were an integral and deliberate part of the OF. What I’d read was that these were to be read by the Deacon who, due to the nature of the permanent deaconate, should have been working with those in need and is literally bringing their intentions to the Mass. In that context, the Prayers of the Faithful become a part of the Offertory, in which the congregation not only prays for specific intentions, but those trials are placed on the altar and united with Jesus’ sacrifice.

    That doesn’t excuse bogus intentions, but if that’s correct, then it would seem the solution is not to eliminate the practice, but make sure it’s done correctly.

    If I’m wrong, please let me know!

  35. Titus says:

    Permit me to echo the calls for fixed litanies: I actually borrowed the Byzantine nuptial litany for the Prayers of the Faithful for my nuptial Mass.

    If you have one set of litanies for the whole Church (maybe with the option for the national conference to write one for national holidays), it would be just fine. They could be just like the Blessings, with invocations or whole litanies for various occasions. And it would end the horrendous “what else shall we pray for?” schlock.

  36. Dr. Eric says:

    I would be OK with them if they were more like in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom:


    In peace let us pray to the Lord.

    Lord, have mercy.

    For the peace of God and the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

    Lord, have mercy.

    For peace of the whole world, for the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.

    Lord, have mercy.

    For this holy house and for those who enter it with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.

    Lord, have mercy.

    For our Archbishop (Name), our Bishop (Name), the honorable presbyters, the deacons in the service of Christ, and all the clergy and laity, let us pray to the Lord.

    Lord, have mercy.

    For our country, the president, and all those in public service, let us pray to the Lord.

    Lord, have mercy.

    For this parish and city, for every city and country, and for the faithful who live in them, let us pray to the Lord.

    Lord, have mercy.

    For favorable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and temperate seasons, let us pray to the Lord.

    Lord, have mercy.

    For travelers by land, sea, and air, for the sick, the suffering, the captives, and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

    Lord, have mercy.

    For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger, and distress, let us pray to the Lord.

    Lord, have mercy.

    Help us, save us, have mercy upon us, and protect us, O God, by Your grace.

    Lord, have mercy.

    Remembering our most holy, pure, 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.

    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.

    For to You belong all glory, honor, and worship to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.


  37. leutgeb says:

    I am always very happy when there aren’t any.

    However, when in holiday in Wales one of the bidding prasyers was for, ‘the return of this land to the Faith of the age of Saints.’ This just over the hill from the pilgrim route to Bardsey Island.

  38. TRAD60 says:

    To Dr. Eric-These prayers are absolutely fine, and it’s obvious that they were always a part of the Divine Liturgy. They sound nothing like the fabricated prayers of the faithful that are part of the concocted Mass of Paul VI.

  39. robtbrown says:

    I brought that petition up after Mass with one of the deacons. He was concerned too and said he’d talk to the person who prepares the petitions.
    Comment by Jordanes

    So the question is why do they have someone who prepares the petitions?

  40. The Digital MC says:

    To Dr. Eric–I agree most heartily. These prayers are absolutely wonderful when they are sung. I have attended the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on quite a few occasions and can attest to the fact that the words prescribed are the words used. It would indeed be wonderful if the prayers of the faithful in the OF were more like these.

  41. My personal opinion is if the Divine Office is prayed publically, then the Prayers of the Faithful should be skipped. (They’ve already been prayed in the Office)…

    If not, then the ones that are in the Missal should be used, no exceptions, no creativity.

    I would not miss the prayers of the faithful if they were “axed” though

  42. Kent says:

    The intercessory prayers at our parish on Sundays are okay. Usually well done but not particularly inspiring. At least you hear about who is sick or who died. Weekday Masses are a different matter though. When the floor is opened to congregants there are 5 or 6 that usually chime in. I can tell you almost word for word what they will say before they speak. Well intentioned but I get tired of hearing the same prayers day after day.

  43. JillOfTheAmazingWolverineTribe says:

    I’m okay with them as long as they are well done. And unfortunately, it’s “Trick or treat.” For instance, two Sundays ago, the ones read by the lector happened to be nicely written. Then when the priest was “Wrapping up” he added one “That congress may pass a health care bill so people will be taken care of” or something along those lines. I simply said “NO” aloud. Not shouted, mind you, but not exactly inaudible. I expect the priest heard me as I happened to be serving the mass and wasn’t more than 12 feet for him.

    [So you see all the females who serve Mass aren’t necessarily some feminazi hippies!]

    My FAVORITE options for these prayers are to do them like the Eastern rite does them – WITH a slight variation for need be. i.e. add prayers for the sick (and those who take care of them) and the dead (and their families.) Those additions certainly let you know who in the parish needs the extra prayers. AND if there’s an “obvious” one – like a bunch of people getting wiped out in a hurricane, etc. What I can’t abide are prayers that sound like they were written by the Democrat National committee that “go” where NO universal prayer of the church should go.

    [BTW, the priest in question was in his 80s, and should have known better!]

  44. I agree with Dr. Eric regarding the formula of the Divine Liturgy. I tend to appreciate the prayers of the faithful when done properly, and I think their inclusion is actually a sound theology. What I dread is when they are ended with something like this: “And for what else shall we pray?” thus inviting the congregation to vocally add their own intentions. Uggh.

  45. Sandy says:

    As others have implied, I would have liked an additional category – dread them. I guess it depends on your location as to who writes them, but they always seem to me to be totally horizontal, not vertical. The only good I can find is that at my present parish, there is no “shouting out” of intentions.

  46. C. says:

    For the destruction of heresies, we pray to the Lord.
    For the conversion of Jews, Protestants, Communists, liberals and feminists, we pray to the Lord.
    For the elimination of liturgical abuse, we pray to the Lord.
    For an end to artificial contraception, we pray to the Lord.
    For orthodox and fervent intercessory prayers of the faithful, we pray to the Lord.
    For the return of modesty in dress, particularly among those here present, we pray to the Lord.
    That able men will be willing to come forward and serve in all the “ministries” now performed by women at this parish, we pray to the Lord.
    In reparation for sacrilegeous, lukewarm and irreverent Communions at this parish, we pray to the Lord.
    For real conversion from all our sins, we pray to the Lord.

  47. C. says:

    Fr Martin Fox: On what basis would a celebrant omit these prayers from Mass

    Certainly they could be prayed in Latin, right?

    V. Ut nos exaudire digneris.
    R. Te rogamus audi nos!

  48. Ef-lover says:

    As far as I’m concerned the prayer of the faithful should be sent to the liturgical dust bin along with the sign of peace. Although I have not really heard out rageous stuff only a few times once on a tv mass from Notre Dame U. and at iona U. at a graduation mass.

  49. Fr Augustine Thompson OP says:

    There as a question about how these prayers were originally done. There seems to have been considerable variety and they seem to have been pretty universal up to the period of the Reformation. Duffy describes the English practice of the “Bedes” in his Stripping of the Altars. If you want to get what the Italian practice was (shameless self promotion), go to chapter five of my Cities of God (http://www.amazon.com/Cities-God-Religion-Communes-1125-1325/dp/0271029099/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252783634&sr=8-1).

    One of the more interesting variants was for the priest to come out of the choir screen and lead the people in the intercessions immediately after the Sanctus and before starting the canon.

  50. momoften says:

    I am opposed to (wish you would have added that category)even having the petitions for the reason that too many priests/laypeople free lance and take the spirit of the prayer away. For the most part, I believe these petitions are covered in different places in the Mass themselves-aren’t they? The ones we use in our diocese are pretty generic , but now and then….certain priests I know….make it a theatrics part.

  51. Geremia says:

    Catholics adopted the idea from Protestants, who came up with it first. Also, I do not approve of them because they distract the faithful from the fact that the whole mass is a prayer, not just the prayers of the faithful part.

  52. kelleyb says:

    I sometimes think that the petitions in our parish were lifting from the Democrat party platform. I wish the ‘prayer’ was less political and more prayerful.

  53. Jaceczko says:

    The following comments by Auden, on the reform of the Episcopal liturgy ca. 1970, are interesting and germane:

    Liturgy, Reform of

    I don’t know if it is any better with the Anglican Church in England, but the Episcopalian Church in America seems to have gone stark raving mad. Here are some features of a proposed reformed Holy Communion service.

    (I) The Prayer of Humble Access and the General Confession have been cut. Roman Catholics have to go to auriculur confession before taking communion. We do not. Surely, some verbal act of contrition is required.
    (II) The Prayer for the Church Militant has become an interminable and boring attempt to pray for all sorts and conditions of men, a futile attempt, since if we were really to pray for them all, we should never get away. Thus, we pray for farmers, but not for barbers.
    (III) Presumably out of ecumenical good will, the Filioque clause is omitted from the Creed. How often does a member of the Greek Orthodox Church turn up in a parish church?
    (IV) Worst of all, the Epistle and Gospel are read in some appalling “modern” translation. In one such, the Greek word which St. Paul uses in Romans VIII and which the Authorized Version translated as ‘flesh’ turns into ‘our lower nature’, a concept which is not Christian, but Manichean.

    And why? The poor Roman Catholics have had to start from scratch, and, as any of them with a feeling for language will admit, they have made a cacophonous horror of the Mass. We had the extraordinary good fortune in that our Book of Common Prayer was composed at exactly the right historical moment. The English language had already become more or less what it is today, so that the Prayer Book is no more difficult to follow than Shakespeare, but the ecclesiastics of the sixteenth century still possessed a feeling for the ritual and ceremonious which today we have almost entirely lost. Why should we spit on our luck?

    -[A Certain World: A Commonplace Book, 1970]

  54. Warren says:

    I, too, agree that the General Intercessions could follow the pattern of prayers from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

    For a start…

    Enlisting the help of Our Blessed Lady.
    To worship God in spirit and in truth.
    Peace and safety of believer’s souls; fidelity to the Gospel and the Church.
    Unity of the Church Universal and the unity of families.
    The protection of the local Church, especially the Bishop and Metropolitan.
    For those in political office, our country, public servants and those in the military.
    Peace between nations.
    Thanksgiving to God for His many gifts and the grace to be faithful stewards of His creation.
    Timely prayers: good weather for an abundant harvest; protection of those at sea.
    For the protection of travelers and those separated from families.
    For respect for the sacredness of human life, from conception to natural death.
    For the suffering souls in purgatory.
    Timely prayers: the sick, the dying, the recently deceased.

    V. Ut nos exaudire digneris.
    R. Te rogamus audi nos!

  55. No impromptu “motions from the floor” please!

  56. Jayna says:

    I have never been to a church when they didn’t do them. The church I go to on Sunday does it right (if it must be done at all). We pray for priests and vocations, for the recently deceased, for politicians (and specifically mentioned is the protection of life), for travelers if it’s during the summer or the holidays or something, etc. Not terrible, but not really all that necessary either.

  57. hzab says:

    While I have not heard anything note-worthily bad, I would not miss them. I also haven’t experienced a situation where the people are allowed to provide their own intercessions in many years, but if I did, I would probably add:
    “That all faithful heed the call for a return to reverence and tradition”.
    Considering the climate in any parish that still allows shout-out intercessions, that probably won’t go over well…

    Something from C.’s list a few posts up would work as well, too.

  58. kradcliffe says:

    I voted “OK if done properly” by which I mean that I prefer them to be either very general without a bunch of passive-aggressive preaching, or naming specific sick people of the parish.

    At our wedding, I did have as the last intention “For repose of the soul of [my recently deceased mother]…” because I wanted to at least mention her since I couldn’t have her there. I don’t know if it’s wrong to do that, but I do know it’s good to pray for the repose of her soul, and that it was brief and unobtrusive, so I’m pretty sure it was OK.

  59. Sam Schmitt says:

    I wish that the “Prayer of the Faithful” were more like prayers, i.e. asking *God to do something* instead of expressing a wish or general hope that something were thus and so (“That all people may be cured of disease”). It often sounds like a “wish list” rather than a real prayer for God to act.

    So instead of “That all our leaders serve the common good” or something, how about, “That the Holy Spirit inspire and guide our leaders to seek the common good.”

  60. mjballou says:

    In my area, most parishes use the booklets that come out from OCP, probably adding a bit here and there. Lately, these prayers seem to be getting longer and more particular. We pray for action against global climate change, for the government to ensure secure livelihood and universal health care, for protection against all kinds of flu, etc.

    When I look at the sample in my Missal, it gives four petitions that are pleasantly all-encompassing. I’m also not sure that we need to tell the Almighty how to solve our problems. Perhaps He has His own ideas.

  61. ppojawa says:

    Sid, “The Confraternity of Lay Canons of the Divine Office”.

    Might be a good idea. Where do I join? :-)

  62. helgothjb says:

    It does seem that the Roman liturgy requires more than an impromptu prayer offered ‘off-the-cuff.’ The language with which we pray should be eloquent, doctrinally precise and beautiful. These aims seem hard to achieve when taken from ordinary ‘Joe Pew’ Catholics. However, there is something impressive about the ordinary and messy prayers of the faithful being offered at a daily Mass in the midst of the grand ritual. It sort of takes them and sanctifies them through the rest of the rite. The Eastern Liturgy’s use of the Litany is wonderful as well. It teaches one how one ought to pray petitions. So, I am left undecided. However, if the liturgy is celebrates properly, with doctrinally sound music and it is clear that the priest in interceding for the people, they prayers are usually not so crazy.

  63. John UK says:

    If I remember correctly, the rubrics give clear instructions:
    The priest is to “top and tail” the Prayer of the Faithful. Introducing it, and concluding with a prayer addressed to God.

    The deacon [or in his absence the reader] is to tell the people for what to pray, concluding if desired each intention with a simple versicle & response, such as Lord hear us, Lord graciously hear us.
    In England the Hail Mary is frequently used as part of te intercession, a tolerated custom, I believe.

    But how often does one hear the Reader take over the celebrant’s role [which is clearly to pray aloud to God on behalf of the assembly, bringing the people to God and God to the people???

    And even by ad-libbing readers confusion as to when he or she uses you as to whether the congregation or the Almighty is meant.

    One even finds books of model intercessions bearing a Nihil obstat where the reader is expected to address God, rather than the people.

    As other correspondents have pointed out, the Bidding the Bedes of the Sarum Rite is the model for western Christendom – which biddings are always couched in terms of Ye are to pray for the good estate of the Catholic Church or the commonweal or the soul of our pious founder John Doe or whatever.

    Once again, doing the red and saying the black would solve many of the criticisms outlined above, with the intercessions prepared beforehand for the reader to say the black – what is before him with no ad-libs!

    John UK

    P.S. There are churches in England where this model is followed, but there are also many where it is not :-(

  64. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Rather than open the floor to prayers, which don’t always work out well, the Priest should say “For these intentions and those within our hearts, let us pray to the Lord.”

    Plainsong Prayers of the Faithful are fantastic, especially when the response is done in three or four part harmony.

  65. Mary G says:

    Wouldn’t miss them if omitted. Frequently, petitions ‘from the floor’ are mumbled and/or poorly worded. A priest once told us that if we cannot hear the prayer, do not respond ‘Lord hear our prayer’. (I am tempted to answer ‘Lord, let us hear our petitioner’.)

  66. Tina in Ashburn says:

    If the old Mass is said, what more could possibly complete an already perfect prayer? In this case, the Intercessions are just wordy, badly expressed duplications of what is already in the Mass.

    I’ve often wondered if the Intercessions came about because of the incompleteness of the Ordinary Form. So many things are left out of the New Mass that are in the old Mass!

    I get the ‘prayer meeting’ impression every time when I hear them.

    Please, can’t we just let the priest speak to God the Father, and stop interrupting this holy conversation of the Mass?

  67. I would vote for having the POFs stay in the Mass, but be officially scripted–i.e., cribbed from the Liturgy of the Hours or some other official organ of the Liturgy.

    I once heard a Jesuit at Catholic Univesity open up prayers at a weekday Mass by reminding us that they were prayers and “not mini-homilies.” That’s always stuck with me. It’s funny and to the point but seems to suggest in itself the solution I posted above.

    Also, I’m in a lefty diocese, and so the Mass is a ground of contention. Once heard a layman pray that our priests would learn to follow specific Canon Law sections pertaining to the faithful’s right to the properly celebrated sacraments, etc. I certainly agreed with the pray-er with regard to ends but not with regard to means.

  68. ipadre says:

    Gamber has the answer. They should have a set formula like in the East. All problems solved – nothing made up on the spot, no bad theology, no political messages, etc…

  69. jbalza007 says:

    Though they are not done at this Institute of Christ the King apostolate parish where I regularly go, I can still remember years ago of one Catholic “community” (they don’t seem to like the word parish!), where this guy would ramble quite a bit about his life and then end with his very short intention.

  70. Sixupman says:

    Slightly off-topic: what logic was there for the abolition of the Leonine Prayers at the end of Mass? That was the point of the body of the congregation coming together – very effective and a great miss. Intercessory prayers – CofE nonsense.

  71. TRAD60 says:

    To Geremia-Very good point about the whole Mass being a prayer instead of thinking of only one segment as such. This is probably the strongest argument for omitting the so called prayers of the faithful completely from the Mass of Paul VI.

  72. rwprof says:

    We love litanies. We love them so much, in fact, that surely, “Lord, have mercy” (or kyrie eleison or y’ar-rab urrham, or whatever language) is the most frequently uttered phrase during Divine Liturgy. This Sunday, every jurisdiction has released petitions for the martyrs of 9/11, so there is some variation, but we don’t do “Quaker” style litanies, nor do we have the congregation write petitions.

    Speaking of, Matins begins at 9, so I must get ready.

  73. Aaron says:

    We don’t have them at our TLM, of course. But if I were still attending the NO, I would have needed a “dread them” option to answer the poll. I’ve never heard them be other than banal or cringe-worthy, and quite frequently political. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the prayer equivalent of, “I support the troops, but…”

    Also, some parishes around here went from “Lord, hear our prayer” to “Hear us, O Lord” a couple years ago. Dunno what that’s about, except that it turns into a mish-mash when you’re at a funeral or something so you’ve got people from out of town or Catholics who don’t go to Mass much, who instinctively respond with “Lord…” and clash with the ones saying “Hear…”

  74. Traductora says:

    The prayers of the faithful used in my diocese are mostly awful prayers for government intervention in various things, starting with “universal health care.” I don’t think they’re created by anybody in the diocese; someone told me that they come out of the OCP missalette, which is used in this diocese. I think these prayers are political and extremely inappropriate.

    The basic neutral prayers used in Eastern rite liturgies (which simply pray for Church leaders, for government leaders, for the faithful, for the dead, etc.) are fine. But I don’t think that some left-wing (or any) committee should be permitted to create a constantly rotating litany of their favorite political causes and foist it upon Catholics.

  75. Hidden One says:

    That the practice of the laity putting forth the Prayers of the Faithful may be universally abolished forever.
    Lord, hear our prayer.

  76. Oleksander says:

    I remember once at a Mass in Michigan they had the thing every has mentioned that if you spoke up you can say an intercessionary prayer (isnt that the part of the “cantor”/altar server/priest?) anyways these two old ladies started to say a prayer at the same time, it turned into a fight between the two, each one saying the prayer as loud as they could to drown out the other, it was sickening

  77. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Hidden One: LOL!!
    and a ‘Lord, hear our prayer’!

  78. Jordanes says:

    Robtbrown asked: So the question is why do they have someone who prepares the petitions?

    It’s another one of the deacons who prepares them for each Sunday.

  79. Sacristymaiden says:

    Dr. Eric–I agree that the Byzantine litany would be perfect replacement to the tepid litany found in practically every Novis Ordo. I have sung them many a time, and they are always apropriate for any occasion.

  80. rwprof says:

    Rather than open the floor to prayers, which don’t always work out well, the Priest should say “For these intentions and those within our hearts, let us pray to the Lord.”

    When we enter the church, the candles are in the narthex next to the candle offering box and the petition sheets. A worshipper may, for example, write his ill mother’s name on the sheet then light a candle and say a prayer for her. During the Great Entrance, there are several petitions, among them, the people for whom the congregation has asked to be prayed, and the priest also in another petition says something very like the statement above.

  81. Interesting results so far.

  82. Agellius says:

    Like so many parts of the NO mass, the petitions are BORING!

  83. Geremia says:

    According to LSN, the text read: “For those who have given their lives to service to their country, promoting values of peace, justice, equality, and liberty; especially, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, that he may find his eternal reward in the arms of God. … We pray…” Lord have mercy on us.

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