Wednesday, May 13, 2015
I hate bidding prayers
There is an interesting article about bidding prayers of the General Intercessions on NLM. I hate them and I hate writing them. I know that at some places like Fontgombault they are used in the Old Rite where they are sung by the deacon with a Kyrie Eleyson response. I still hate them.
Here, at a sung Mass, as we have no deacon, the lector reads the intercession and the priest sings something like 'we pray to the Lord' and the people respond, 'Lord, we ask you hear our prayer' or 'Te rogamus audi nos'. it sort of works a little better than just saying the things but I think it is really putting lipstick on a pig. After the singing of the Creed, the intercessions always feel like a downward movement, rather than a rite that the leads to the priests going up to the altar to offer the sacrifice. They are just another set of words, after a lot of other words.
Although the General Instruction of the Roman Missal calls for them on Sundays and Solemnities and even encourages their use on weekdays, especially in Lent and Advent, they are not liturgical, there is no proper liturgical text for them. I have more or less given up allowing the reader to write them, they so easily end up theologically ambiguous or politically partisan or merely twee but them I am not too happy with my own efforts either, it is not my skill.
One of the reasons I hate them is not just because they are practically always badly written but that they distract from the Canon or Eucharistic Prayer and making something which is general specific, in the sense that they should be an invitation to prayer rather than n end in themselves.
My 'feel' for the role of the laity at Mass is that they are supposed exercise their priestly role by adoring, giving thanks, making reparation and interceding with the priest who stands at the altar. As the priest prays for the living and dead, for the Church and its clergy, for those in need during the Canon or Eucharistic prayer, so too are the laity supposed to pray, bringing their world to the altar as well. They have come in from those peripheries with all the concerns and love they have for the world.
General Intercessions together with the Canon or Eucharistic prayer said aloud tend to make the role of the laity into mere listeners or bystanders rather than prayerful participants. Coming from an age when it was noteworthy that St Ambrose read without articulating the words he read, I suspect that during the reciting of the muttered Canon the faithful also muttered prayer for what they perceived to be their needs. Saying the prayer aloud, which for 1,500 years was recited quietly, has now become a distraction for the faithful from fulfilling their role, which has many including Pope Benedict to suggest 'the Eucharistic Prayer is in crisis', people simply don't know what to do when it is taking place.
In England, before the Reformation, the clerk would announce anniversaries of deaths, pray for patrons, the King, the clergy, the kingdom, great public needs such as war and plague etc., the birth of a prince etc after the sermon, generally with Paters and Aves but they were announcements not primarily intercessions and their form was more or less standard.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake