ASK FATHER: Priest says, “May Almighty God bless US” instead of “YOU”

From a reader…


Due to a new pastor at our parish, I’ve been hearing all sorts of novel things as Mass, and was particularly struck by the use of “May Almighty God bless US” instead of “YOU” at the final blessing. I first assumed it was this particular priest, since he switches up a lot of things (cup and chalice, etc) and in general seems to downplay his priestly role. However, since I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve noticed at least two other priests, one at this parish, one elsewhere, doing it as well. Is this common/acceptable/a new trend/just another variation I didn’t know about? It’s noticeable enough that my children have asked about it, and I didn’t know what to tell them.

You put your finger on the sore spot: the priest downplaying his priestly role.

Priests are mediators.  Priests are for sacrifice.   They should not ever downplay their role.  That doesn’t mean being all high and mighty over people, but it does mean acting like a priest for people, not something else.

Most of the men who do these things genuinely believe that they are being kind or sensitive or friendly, etc.  Most of them have had dreadful formation, especially liturgical.  It’s as if they can’t help it.   They think they can do what they want in the cause of being nice.

It isn’t nice, as it turns out, to change something important like that in the rites of Holy Mass.    But they are sort of stunted and they don’t know any better.

You have to be patient with them.

You could go to the priest, with your book or missalette, and, with the proper page open, ask him why he changes the words.  “Father, you say this, but the book says this.  Why don’t you say what is in the book.”    His reaction will tell you a great deal about his motives.




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. rtjl says:

    I knew a priest who used to conclude Mass saying “As we feel the blessing of God welling up with in us may we go forth knowing that we are loved by God”.

    This was only one of the egregious things he did celebrating Mass. He would also a start Mass “in the name of the creator , the redeemer and the sanctifier”.

    I am confident that he knew exactly what he was doing and that he was deliberately subverting the priesthood, though he didn’t seem to mind drawing his salary or being the center of attention on stager.

    I avoided “masses” celebrated by this priest and if I ever arrived at a Mass to discover that he was celebrating I would promptly leave and attend a Mass elsewhere.

  2. Fulco One Eye says:

    Though I no longer attend Mass at my Novus Ordo-only parish, the pastor always closes with “May Almighty God bless you all.” He is not from the south but Chicago. There was no weird motive and I took it as a way to correct the absence of a plural pronoun in English.

  3. Asperges_me says:

    Sounds like our current pastor. I asked him once why he didn’t just say the black and do the red.. he laughed and called me a “liturgist”.
    He also always breaks the host before the consecration, and switches words around in the Mass.. it’s just how he is.

  4. Alice says:

    Isn’t “may God bless us” how a non-ordained leader ends an Office hour? I know that’s how it works in the Lutheran church. It seems like it would be false humility on Father’s part to pretend he can’t bless the congregation.

  5. Simon_GNR says:

    Fulco One Eye: “the absence of a plural pronoun in English”. The plural form of the second person pronoun (“you”) is not absent – it’s ubiquitous. It’s the singular form (“thou”) that has become absent.

  6. Pax--tecum says:

    Yes, that is true also in the Roman Rite. For example at Compline in the Extraordinary Form. Even a priest would then use the form in which he asks God to bless “us” instead of “you”. And the same is true for the blessing at the end of Prime: “Dominus nos benedicat, et ab omni malo defendat, et ad vitam perducat aeternam”, which is also used in the Ordinary Form after Lauds and Vespers when there’s no priest present.

  7. L. says:

    Some Priests are self-indulgent and silly. A TOR Franciscan in my home parish when I was a kid always added to the prayer “protect us from all anxiety…” the phrase “… and all unnecessary worry…” because he assumed, I always thought, that we were too stupid to understand what “anxiety” meant. A Priest of my present acquaintance who considers himself a strict rule-follower likes to say the Orate Fratres “Pray, sisters and brothers…” which always make him seem unreliable in my eyes. I have heard several Priests who like to end the Mass by reversing the order of the prayer, and say “Go in peace, the Mass is ended,” and when we reply, “Thanks be to God,” I always think, “Why are we thanking God that the Mass is over?”

  8. Closettraddy says:

    I had a priest for years who would absolve me at Confession (and at N.O. Mass during general absolution) of my/our “mistakes” instead of “sins.“ I finally asked him nicely after Confession if he would please absolve me of my SINS, not my mistakes. He did. And wonderfully, he started saying “sins” instead of “mistakes” during Mass too. I think TONE is everything. This is a very prickly priest whom you cannot make suggestions to. Or perhaps it was more Our Lord’s doing than mine. In any case, it worked.

  9. Ave Maria says:

    We have a retired priest who I call Fr Ad-Lib. He also like L. says about, mentions about saving us from anxiety and worry and things like that and he does not give a true blessing either. I avoid him when I know he will be filling in. He makes up parts of the Mass and I cannot stand that as in the past I had to put up with that nonsense a lot. My spiritual father taught me to say, ‘illicit but valid’ if the consecration was done right. Well, Fr. Ad-Lib takes a little license there too but I think it is valid. We also have another aging priest that I think of as Fr. Ramble. Especially at the offertory he starts talking about whatever is on his mind. Ah, the training some of these priests had that they never get past.

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