ASK FATHER: “My Lord and my God!” at the elevation

elevation mass host 05From a reader…


I’ve been reading the Celebration of Mass by J.B. o Connell and at the section concerning the consecration of the Host O’Connell writes that a priest should not say a vocal prayer at the elevation, obviously, but the annotation on the bottom of the page continues to say that the priest should not even say “my lord and my God” in a low voice (and implied even saying it mentally) as to be in accordance with the (old) canon law (818, to be exact). So my question(s) are bit of a tricky one. Can a priest say the ejaculation now that we don’t follow the old code? Is the old code still valid? Does it affect the Mass if it is?

The old Code is not in force now.  That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain good guidance in many matters.

If you flip open the pages of the Missale Romanum to the consecration you will not find any indication that the priest must, can, should, could, may add his own prayers during the elevation. Unless you are a Fishwrap reader, most would agree that the two-fold consecration and elevation is a pretty important part of Mass. As such it deserves precision and restraint. Father shouldn’t impose his own devotional practices on everyone present when the rubrics themselves give indications of what he should do in favor of the devotion of the faithful.  This is a greater danger in, I think, the Novus Ordo, which has an inherent looseness born of optionitis and which is mostly celebrated versus populum, which can lead a priest to drift into exhibitionism.

That said, there are a lot of things that are left undescribed in the Missale Romanum, such as how long an elevation ought to be.  There is a bit of room for personal choices even at this moment.  I admit to varying the length of elevations, depending on the occasion and mood and my sense of how Mass is proceeding.

It seems to me that if Holy Mass is celebrated ad orientem, where there is little chance that the congregation will see that the priest is saying something during the elevation – which could lead to distraction, confusion, questions, speculation, imitation, etc. – not much harm is done were a priest to say or mouth the words, “My Lord and my God!” Just why he would think it so important to utter them aloud at that moment is not clear to me.  I would like to think that most priests are capable of thinking something without actually having to say it aloud.

Over the years I’ve been able to summon the self-control to think “My Lord and my God!” during the elevation, and ponder the weight of the moment and reality, without saying anything aloud.  Yes, yes… it strains credulity. We all know clerics who suffer from a version of ecclesiastical Tourette’s.

The wisdom of our forebears should inform our choices in these matters. They were experts on humanity, after all. If they said DON’T do this, there are good reasons.

So, in this case, Say The Black, Don’t Say The Stuff That’s Not There, Do The Red.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Strictly following rubrics-gee, great idea. If only more people understood the consequences of not doing so.

    This prohibition does not mean the laity cannot think or say quietly such words of adoring devotion.

  2. Matt R says:

    I think mentally praying “My Lord and My God” with perhaps a second extra before and after is sufficient for the elevation without incense.

    [Sorry, but the incensation doesn’t determine the length of elevation, any more than the altar boy with a bell.]

  3. Imrahil says:

    What the priest says, high voice, middle voice, low voice, is the Canon.

    However, I see no reason, none at all, [Review, above.] to interpret a rule (not now, technically, in force anyway) that the priest is not to say an additional devotional prayer as implying that he may not even think it. That would seem pious and laudable, and of not excessive length, to me.

  4. Agapitus says:

    I have seen this footnote in O’Connell and I have always given it a more theological interpretation. In the whole Mass but especially at the consecration the priest is acting “in persona Christi capitis”. It seems very odd that at the very moment when the priest says “This is MY Body” and “This is MY Blood” that he would immediately, even interiorly revert to saying something in his own name – “My Lord and my God”.
    Just my thought.

  5. TimG says:

    How about if the laity says “My Lord and my God” at the elevation of the Host? There’s a person who says this out loud at our NO Mass, which I have started also saying (very quietly.) There is an entry in the Latin Mass missal (that contains an English translation) at our area church that offers the EF Mass that also suggests it.

  6. MitisVis says:

    I know many devout who upon receiving or genuflecting before the Lord will mentally or in a low whisper pray “My Lord and My God”, so it is interesting to see a priest reflect on their thoughts and actions at the elevation. The sheer miracle of that indelible mark on our priests…

    Now I need to ask:
    “Say The Black, Don’t Say The Stuff That’s Not There, Do The Red.”
    When can we see some swag? I have got to get me some of this!

  7. My own prayer that I pray at the elevation is “Eternal Father I offer You the Sacrifice of Your Son Jesus for my salvation and the salvation of the whole world. Do not count my sins against me but wash me clean of all that is contrary to Your will.” Though now that I come to write it down for the first time I’m not sure if I use the first person singular or first person plural! It means I focus on Him and not the congregation.

  8. padreodonoghue says:

    Actually, here in Ireland one of the approved memorial acclamations in the Ordinary Form is “My Lord and my God.” This was one of the local adaptations that appeared in both the older and the newer translations of the Roman Missal. Obviously this is said or sung as the memorial acclamation if that option is selected and the concession of the CDW to the Irish Bishops’ Conference is only valid for Masses celebrated in Ireland.

  9. Mary Bruno says:

    In 1972 when I made my First Holy Communion Sister Katherine taught us to silently pray My Lord and My God. I have prayed this at every Mass since.

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Back in the day, Pope St. Pius X granted a partial indulgence, once a week, to all those who looked upon the Body and Blood at the Consecration and mentally prayed “My Lord and my God.” You actually didn’t get the indulgence if you prayed it aloud.

    However, in Mexico, it’s pretty common for people to say it out loud. This is probably a survival of the older European custom of laypeople having various “greetings” or prayers that they would say out loud or mutter or even sing quietly at the Consecration. Some of the old Irish folklore books have pages and pages of devotional poems and prayers that the Irish in different areas had in common use. (And Pope Pius X was probably trying to get people to move to doing this stuff mentally.)

  11. Imrahil says:

    However, if the indulgence grant says “mentally”, it means “at least mentally” – after all, who says things aloud also thinks them.

    Unless, of course, the Pope wrote explicitly “whosoever prays mentally, without uttering the words”, or something to that effect in his grant. Did he really?

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