MR Prefaces: For Ministry

Buried among the prefaces in the English translation of the Roman Missal Second Edition is what appears to be another independent composition. Before I get to it, I want to reproduce the rubric that accompanied it:

This preface is used at Masses when readers or acolytes are instituted, or when other ministers are blessed, and the Ritual Mass, when permitted, is also used. It may also be used then bishops, presbyters, or deacons are ordained, and on other appropriate occasions.

In the current Missal, there is no preface listed for the institution of readers or acolytes, only a reference to the eighth Mass in the section for “Various Needs and Occasions.” And there, we find no preface, as blogged upon here some four years ago.

So we have another MR2 “orphan,” which reads:


  • Starting with the rubric, the Church of the 80s and 90s clearly intended this text as a useful addition for a wide variety of ritual or special Masses beyond Holy Orders but not excluding those celebrations.
  • The inclusion for use in the conferral of Holy Orders is interesting, in that this text is far more strongly emphatic in the notion of service. The surviving preface for Holy Orders in the MR3 stresses anointing, leadership, and Church leaders’ association with Christ as High Priest. That’s not a wrong or incorrect thing–just noticeable.
  • That phrase “other appropriate occasions” looks intentionally vague. What do you suppose those Masses might be, if not for an ordination, institution, or blessing? A conference? Ministry gathering on a regional or local level?
  • Here, the first mention is the Baptism of the Lord. From there, the teaching and example of Jesus in his public life, and the consequent importance of service as he preached to and affirmed in all his disciples, regardless of status, sex, or standing.
  • The purpose of ministry in the Church is emphasized, namely the building up of the Body and the glory of the Father.

Thoughts or comments?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to MR Prefaces: For Ministry

  1. Devin Rice says:

    I can be harsh on 1998 at times, but I think this text is both decent and appropriate. ICEL prior to its shake up seemed to have a “kitchen sink” approach to new compositions: let’s write up a bunch of texts and just throw them in the missal. But this text serves a specific purpose that is not covered in the standard edition and fulfills that purpose well.

    Tangentially, I would add that there is an over reliance on the motif “Christ’s Baptism = service/inauguration of ministry”. It is not totally wrong. Just that the earliest Christian understanding had a much richer and wider appreciation for the implication of his Baptism: the revelation of the Trinity to humankind in friendship, the sanctification of all creation, a prefigurement of his death and resurrection, the defeat of the spiritual powers and principalities that enslaved the world, etc

    I would probably just start the preface with:
    “(For) he came among us as one who serves…”

  2. Agreed on that comment on the Baptism of the Lord. This is really the climax of the Theophany.

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