ASK FATHER: Priest uses the Common Preface on a Solemnity

old_priest_by_vidagr-d5laqk6From a reader…

What do you think of a priest who by reason of not able to find the Preface of Christ the King uses the the Common Preface instead in a mass for the Solemnity of Christ the King?

What do I think of such a priest? I gather that you want me to be negatively critical about him.

First, I don’t have enough information. Hence, I imagine that Father is, say, 92 years of age, with cataracts. As his arthritic hands tremble with effort, he flips through a few pages, peering in vain. Finally, because in his priestly heart he doesn’t want to keep the people in the pews who have to rush home after work to feed their hungry children, he uses the Common Preface.

So, what do you think of Father?

It is a good custom and discipline before Mass for the priest to check the Missal in the sacristy before it goes out to the sanctuary.

Just as a carpenter needs to know his way around the tools of his trade, just as the scholar needs to know the location of important reference books in library, so too the priest should know his way around the books and instruments, such as the Ordo, for sacred liturgical worship – his main and most important activity.

It is a good idea once in a while to re-familiarize oneself with these books, to spend time paging through them, getting to know them well.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. PhilipNeri says:

    I check the Missal and the Lectionary TWICE before the start of Mass.

    And I check to make sure that some Cheeky Reader hasn’t rearranged the pages of my homily. . .which happened to me once. Very embarrassing.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  2. Ben Yanke says:

    It sounds like the good father is in need of an MC on Sundays. That would solve the issue, and make his life much easier too.

  3. JamesM says:

    Here is what I think of this priest.

    It is a shame his server hasn’t set up his missal for him. Traditionally the missal is set up by the server ahead of Mass (or the MC if a sung Mass or a High Mass).

    Maybe his server is a wicked individual who likes to torture Father by not doing this. We don’t know for sure.


  4. Red_Shirt_Hero says:

    Are we talking about the Ordinary or Extraordinary form? If it is the former, the preface is impossible to miss, as it follows the Prayer over the Offerings. And no matter which form, it has taken your reader rather a long time to ask the question since the last celebration of Christ the King.

  5. iPadre says:

    There are occasions where we all make mistakes. We set the Missal, someone who thinks they know better than us changes it. Or we had a bad nights sleep. Give the guy a break. Your lucky to have a priest today.

    No if he does this every day. Maybe ask him if you can talk in private.

    But priests are on the front line. All priests are on the front line – like it or not.

    Say a Rosary for your priest, for all priests. Pray for priests every day!!! We need it!!!

  6. Geoffrey says:

    Is this really a serious question?

    As an instituted acolyte, or when I serve as a sacristan, I always prepare the Missal for the celebrant, and then have him check it over when he arrives.

    Mistakes can happen. Once or twice, I’ve seen celebrants accidentally look at the wrong page in the Missal, and recite the Collect for the previous or following Sunday. I now mark the appropriate page with a non-permanent “sticky”tab, and move it weekly.

  7. KateD says:

    We had a dear old Scottish priest who was retired, but generous enough to take on our Latin community. He became a priest when the Church still had only one language, before we fell into babble. He loved the EF and held his parishioners dear. Yet sometimes, he missed something during the Mass. The altar servers who regularly served were wonderful and would quietly point him in the right direction when he missed something. Near the end he had to sit to distribute Communion, yet no other hand ever touched the Eucharist. After Mass we made sure there was an apple fritter and coffee with milk and honey waiting. He’d sit down and visit…but you could see him stiffen and brace as certain parishioners approached, occasionally you’d here him say under his breath, “Oh, Dear Lord. Here she comes.” Then as his name was called he’d turn and with a broad sincere grin he’d call out, “Well hello Mrs. Soandso! How’d I do today?” And then he’d walk off listening intently to her litany of things she didn’t like about his Mass. Poor man. We’d put his fritter in a bag and freshen up his coffee so he could take it with him on his way to his next Mass or event.” He was always so sweet and patient….though some saw him as being an old curmudgeon…and I suppose he was…but he was a sweet one. It just made me realize that even the best can make mistakes, as prepared and versed in the Liturgy as they may be…and if you know their heart in the right place, then certainly God can discern that, too…it just seems like people should cut them a little slack.

  8. Fr. Reader says:

    What do you think of a Christian that notices that a priest reads the wrong preface for the Solemnity of Christ the King, and then, on September next year asks about it in a blog?

  9. Gregory DiPippo says:

    One possible explanation is that the Missal predates the promulgation of the feast in 1925. I have a few missals in my collection that have later feasts pasted in on separate sheets. If the page with the Preface for Christ the King was separate from the text of the Mass, it might have fallen out. I saw a similar problem once on the feast of St Margaret Mary Alacoque (added in 1929) – the priest arrived at the altar, and could not find her Mass among the many additional sheets pasted into the back of the book in a chaotic mess.

  10. Christine says:

    I think it’s a dangerous thing to become the Liturgy Police. Rather than participating in Almighty God bringing Heaven to earth, you end up focusing on which finger Father used to turn the page in the missal or some such nonsense while the important stuff passes you by.

    Pray for priests and bishops every day!

  11. Kevin says:

    Is that you Statler? Waldorf? I didn’t realise you’re a traditional catholic.

  12. lmgilbert says:

    This question reminds me on an incident in the sacristy a few months ago. Father was 83 yrs old at that point, increasingly and alarmingly short of breath. On the day before his 60th anniversary of ordination, after Mass, into the sanctuary comes a lady who informs father that he neglected to say, “The Body of Christ,” before he gave her Holy Communion! He died a very holy death two months later on the very feast of the Assumption, with his confreres singing the Salve Regina over him as he died.

    But regarding this devout and veiled lady, can I say that I have never been guilty of such stupidities? No, I cannot. Have mercy on us, O Lord, priests and people.

  13. Ages says:

    I know it can be disappointing when you’re looking forward to hearing something read in church and it gets omitted by mistake.

    In the Byzantine lectionary, on the Sunday before September 14 (the feast of the cross) we read the famous John 3:16 passage, and I always look forward to it. Well, one year Father made a mistake and read the common gospel for the Sunday instead, and then preached a prepared homily on it. I was quite upset for a few moments, but one has to just get over it.

    People make honest mistakes, or in the questioner’s case, maybe he lost his place and was feeling immense pressure not to interrupt the flow of the mass to search for it. You still heard a message from Christ, and you still received His body.

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