Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Omitted Prayers

At Ordinary Form Mass, the following texts are sometimes omitted by unliturgical priests, despite the illicitness of doing so:

  1. the Entrance Antiphon when nothing else is sung in its place;
  2. either the Kyrie, when the Penitential Act does not contain it, or the Penitential Act, when the Kyrie is said by itself, as if it suffices alone (this shows ignorance of the distinction in fact and history between the two);
  3. (one suspects) the priest's private prayer "Cleanse my heart" before reading the Gospel, and his private prayer "Through the words of the Gospel" when he kisses it after reading it;
  4. (one suspects) various of the private prayers of the priest at the offertory (which occurs particularly if the priest, when saying Mass without a server, re-orders the offertory rites on his own initiative, and so first adds wine and water to the chalice at the credence, then carries across to the altar both the mixed chalice and the paten with hosts, offers them with a single prayer (see 5.), and decides not to bother washing his hands, omitting even the In spiritu humilitatis that should precede it – for one not conformed to the true spirit of the liturgy would see "With humble spirit" and "Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity" not as what they are, short but potent priestly apologiæ, but as meaningless doublets of the Penitential Act and of the Orate fratres);
  5. omitting saying a prayer of offering for each species, when instead illicitly combining the two prayers of offering of the bread and wine into one ("Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread and wine we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, they will become for us our spiritual food and drink" or somesuch mish-mash);
  6. (one suspects) the commingling prayer "May this mingling" (because the fraction takes place during the Agnus Dei, especially if the priest doesn't have the Missal open before him at that page, he may forget or neglect that prayer and simply attend to the singing or saying of that chant);
  7. (one suspects) the priest's private prayer of preparation before Communion (which also could easily be forgotten or neglected in favour of the Agnus Dei);
  8. the Communion Antiphon when nothing else is sung in its place;
  9. (one suspects) the prayer at the purification of the vessels, "What has passed our lips" – especially when the purification is carried out, not by the priest, but by another liturgical minister (this last I think is the most commonly omitted of all, because commonly the ablutions are carried out at the credence, with no Missal there, let alone open to that prayer).

These abuses boil down to three: omitting the Entrance and Communion Antiphons (a consequence of the way the Proper chants of the Mass are neglected everywhere in favour of poor quality hymns if sung), mixing up the Penitential Act with the Kyrie (encouraged by the option to trope the Kyrie and thus combine the two), and neglecting to say any and all of the private prayers of the priest (the very fact of their great reduction in number at the time of the reform of the liturgy has encouraged the neglect of those remaining, what with the radical change in self-image of the priest encouraged by such, from sacrificing priest to genial presider).

Obviously it is hard to be sure that the private prayers are omitted, but by the unusual speed of a priest at certain points, and, at the offertory at least, his seeming omission of certain accompanying gestures, one suspects that sometimes they are.

If the priest tends to vary and ad lib the prayers out loud, or otherwise behaves at the altar in an odd way, all the more reason exists to wonder if he is leaving items out.

I would say that I have seen or at least very strongly suspected celebrants of having committed all these errors at various Masses I have attended over the years, though thankfully they are a minority.

Indeed, another even worse, though rarer, springs to mind: entirely omitting the Orate fratres!

Remember, liturgical minimalism leads ineluctably to the temptation to liturgical abuse.