We continue with the second in a series on the Roman Rite’s Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions (VNO). Remember that this section addresses liturgy for “intentions, which may be used in many situations, and for various needs and occasions.”
What might this include? Perhaps we can narrow the field by stating what it doesn’t include. These are not Masses for sacraments. They are not for celebrations of saints. They don’t include funerals. Simply put, they are Masses dedicated to intentions people would offer in the Prayers of the Faithful.
You might suggest that every or any Mass could include a particular intention. And your observation would be correct. This is the way such prayers are usually handled. “VNO” Masses address special situations. To a degree they are “theme” Masses, like the kind one occasionally experiences at Catholic schools. One “cause” or intercession is drawn from any possible ones and amplified on a particular day. That day is usually a weekday, and never a Sunday in Advent, Lent, or Easter, never on a solemnity, never on Ash Wednesday or during Holy Week.
Here is how the Roman Missal organizes them:
Twenty Masses come under the heading of “For Holy Church.”
- 1. For the Church, universal or a particular one.
- 2. For the pope, especially on the anniversary of election. This is a particularly important one, as it is one of only four VNO Masses that may be celebrated as a replacement for a Sunday in Ordinary Time.
- 3. For the bishop, again especially on the anniversary of ordination. And like a Mass for the pope, a bishop’s anniversary may be observed in place of a Sunday in Ordinary Time.
- 4. For the election of a pope or bishop
- 5. For a council or synod
- 6. For priests
- 7. For the priest himself, especially a pastor “with the care of souls” or on an anniversary of ordination.
- 8. For ministers of the Church
- 9. For vocations to Holy Orders
- 10. For the laity
- 11. On the anniversaries of marriage, which may also be observed using the “VNO” prayers at a weekday Ordinary Time Mass. Presumably, that would include using such prayers when there is a required observances of saints that fall below the level of “Feast.”
- 12. For the family
- 13. For religious
- 14. For vocations to religious life
- 15. For promoting harmony (presumably in a church situation, or for a cause touching on ecumenism–not a political or secular need).
- 16. For reconciliation (but not in concert with the celebration of the Rite of Penance)
- 17. For the unity of Christians. This is one of the “Big Four,” one of those “needs” that may bump the prayers of an Ordinary Sunday.
- 18. For the evangelization of peoples. This is the last of the “Big Four,” and operates with the same potential as VNO numbers 2, 3, and 17. We’ve blogged on these before, and we’ll get into more details as we look at prayers, antiphons and possible usage in a future post.
- 19. For persecuted Christians
- 20. For a spiritual or pastoral gathering.
Seventeen Masses come under the heading of “For Civil Needs.”
- 21. For the nation or state
- 22. For those in public office
- 23. For a governing assembly
- 24. For the head of state or ruler
- 25. At the beginning of the civil year, but not on the first of January, in place of a solemnity, including the one dedicated to Mary, the Holy Mother of God.
- 26. For the sanctification of human labor
- 27. At seedtime
- 28. After the harvest
- 29. For the progress of peoples
- 30. For the preservation of peace and justice, and as with #25, not on January 1.
- 31. In time of war or civil disturbance
- 32. For refugees and exiles
- 33. In time of famine or for those suffering hunger
- 34. In time of earthquake
- 35. For rain
- 36. For fine weather
- 37. For an end to various storms
The outline finishes up with Masses for “Various Occasions,” including a particular one only for use in the United States.
- 38. For the forgiveness of sin
- 39. For chastity
- 40. For charity
- 41. For relatives and friends
- 42. For our oppressors
- 43. For those held in captivity
- 44. For those in prison, and possibly prayers and antiphons from #19 might be used
- 45. For the sick
- 46. For the dying
- 47. For the grace of a happy death
- 48. In any need
- 48/1. For giving thanks to God for the gift of human life–this is only in the United States
- 49. For giving thanks to God
You careful observers will notice these “themes” fall along the lines of the directives given in GIRM 70 for the prayers, “for the needs of the Church; for public authorities and the salvation of the whole world; for those burdened by any kind of difficulty; for the local community.”
Whew! Thats a lot to absorb! Maybe a reason why these liturgies are not commonly utilized. Here and there in the weeks ahead, we’ll examine these Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions in more careful detail. Meantime, looking at the big picture here, anybody see anything worth a comment?