Bidding Prayers and You

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Parish / Diocese: Sion Community for Evangelism (Coventry)

Bidding Prayers and You

Post by FrGareth »

For as long as I’ve been involved with planning liturgies, pre- and post-ordination, I’ve had many weary conversations in schools and parishes about how not to write bidding prayers, explaining time and again that they are meant to be invitations to the people present to pray, not direct supplications to the Almighty. In other words, the word ‘you’ does not belong in admonitions to ‘us’ to pray to ‘God’.

The eleven model formulae in Appendix V of the Roman Missal all adhere strictly to this convention.

However, some of the Church’s ritual books contain prayers (which may or may not be combined with Mass) in a form which does address God directly - for instance, the Rite of Infant Baptism. It is not obvious whether these prayers have to be reworded into the third person when used at Mass or may be used unchanged as presented in the ritual book.

Last night - since I am resident chaplain to a lay community and not assigned to a parish church - I was unable to celebrate the Easter Vigil, which was restricted to Cathedrals and Parish Churches by the Vatican’s Covid19 Decree II. So with my community we watched the Pope’s Easter Vigil from St Peter’s Basilica. In that liturgy, the Bidding Prayers were commendably brief - but the translator kept using the word ‘you’. I checked the actual liturgy booklet, and while I don’t speak Italian, I can recognise a ‘tuo’ when I see one...
Effondi nei governanti il tuo Spirito di sapienza e di lungimiranza. C.
– Colma con l’abbondanza dei tuoi doni i poveri e i sofferenti. C.
– Ammetti i nostri defunti a contemplare in eterno il tuo volto. C.
I don’t usually tune into Papal liturgies so I don’t know if this is an innovation or a common practice under Pope Francis. Perhaps the esteemed members of this forum can update me on the rubrics and Papal precedents about when the Prayer of the Faithful might be directly addressed to the Almighty?
Revd Gareth Leyshon - Priest of the Archdiocese of Cardiff (views are my own)
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Southern Comfort
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Re: Bidding Prayers and You

Post by Southern Comfort »

There are two different traditions of intercessions.

The one traditionally used at Mass is the one where it becomes truly a prayer of the faithful, through the announcement of generic intentions of prayer which all than have an opportunity in silence to make their own in their individual circumstances.

For me, just saying "Let us pray for those in pain and grieving" [for example] is enough. Adding "that they may receive the healing and consolation of Christ and come to know his love" [or whatever] is too much. In fact it is a way for the intercessor, however well-meaning, to impose their own — too often platitudinous — thoughts on a prayer which really ought to be voiced by each individual in whatever words they can find in their hearts. I would leave out that bit altogether. Instead, just give people enough silence to pray for those they have been asked to pray for. In that way, it becomes the prayer of the faithful, not the prayer of whoever composed the intentions. Leave the intentions open-ended!

The second form is a litanic form, used in other contexts. For example, "We call to you, O Lord", to which the response might be "Lord, save your people", with the same response to every intercession: for example, "Have mercy on us all", "Give peace to those who mourn", "Comfort the distressed", and so on. This is the form that would be found in a penitential service (but not the penitential act at Mass) or a service of healing.

Because this form is more intimate, a form in which the intercessor addresses God directly, many people find it "more approachable" and so prefer it. And the reason they prefer it is because of the way that composers of intentions at Mass frequently "take over" the form used at Mass, as indicated above, so that the prayer is no longer the people's prayer. If only we would allow the prayer of the faithful actually to once again be voiced in the hearts of the people, not the voice of the intercessor!

You find this form in prayer groups and other similar contexts where people individually want to voice aloud what is in their hearts. It is a more personal form, in contrast to the "formal" form used at Mass.

The issue therefore arises when people use the litanic form at Mass instead of the announcement—time to pray about it form, as seems to have happened at the Papal Easter Vigil. There are no special rules for papal liturgies in this regard. It is simply that some people (even within the Vatican) don't know the difference between the two traditions!

Happy Easter, everyone!
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