Some years ago, we blogged on Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions. In the GIRM, sections 368-378 cover the universal regulations on their use. You can check our brief comments here and here and here. The USCCB’s unannotated text on the matter is here.
We’re revisiting these Masses in a series here. I can’t promise daily commentary, but by the end of the summer, perhaps, we’ll get to the end of things. On each post we may look at antiphons for singing, and the clergy prayers (with an emphasis on the collects/opening prayers). For readings, we’ll look at Lectionary options.
The Roman Missal offers five sets of options for the theme of “the Church.” It’s not a surprise that the Entrance and Communion antiphons all derive from the New Testament. Canticles (like Ephesians 1:9-10 and Revelation 22:17, 20), Gospel passages (like John 19:34 and Matthew 18:20), and letters to churches (like Romans 12:5 and Revelation 3:20).
The Collects of each of these five options are interesting. They give the mind of the Church on these Masses: a focus on Christ as in option A:
grant … that your Church may be the universal sacrament of salvation and that Christ may be revealed to all as the hope of the nations and their Savior.
in B, a focus on the Church as agent in the world:
grant … that your Church … may continually go forward with the human family and always be the leaven and the soul of human society, to renew it in Christ and transform it into the family of God.
option C’s themes of Trinity and Church unity:
Grant … that your Church may always remain that holy people, formed as one by the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which manifests to the world the Sacrament of your holiness and unity and leads it to the perfection of your charity.
D offers this prayer:
watch over the works of your mercy, that Holy Church … may persevere … in confessing your name.
and E’s emphasis on “the particular Church” offers:
grant that your faithful may be so united to their shepherd and gathered together … as to worthily embody the universality of your people and become a sign and instrument in the world of the presence of Christ.
What strikes me: the acknowledgement that the Church is not “ours,” but God’s, plus the quiet confidence that we can accomplish the mission to which we’ve been entrusted.
Except for option C (which assigns the Preface for Unity of Christians (see VNO #17)) the Eucharistic Prayer for these Masses is to begin with the 8th Preface for Sundays in Ordinary Time. Its key petition is:
… that a people, formed as one by the unity of the Trinity, made the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit, might, to the praise of your manifold wisdom, be manifest as the Church.
Perhaps there is a risk of being too self-focused by utilizing this Mass for a special occasion. It wouldn’t seem appropriate for a local conference (there are other options) or for healing from scandal (likewise, better options exist). I would think a significant anniversary, like the founding of a diocese (with option E) as distinct from a building’s anniversary.
Clergy and liturgy people: what do you think? Ever celebrate it? Experience it?