Lay leaders of prayer

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  I will appreciate your guidance in effort to not only establish unity among our lay leaders of prayer but to assure proper practice. I am fine with any of these points being addressed on your blog to also help others.

Book reference: Holy Communion and Worship of Eucharist Outside Mass

  1.       Making the sign of the cross seems natural to begin, but is not named or listed.
  2.       Opening prayer…recited or omitted?
  3.       Collect…recited or omitted?  
  4.       If # 2 and 3 are included, is the Roman Missal the correct resource?
  5.       Gospel ..  The Lord be with you greeting feels confusing as the people, out of habit, naturally respond, and with your Spirit.   Proclaiming, a reading from the holy Gospel according to… seems to alleviate confusion, but is that an acceptable introduction?  Or is it acceptable to speak Alleluia, Alleluia first and then follow with a reading from… before the Gospel in every season except Lent?

[yet curious there must be an exception as not heard the psalm response sung at a daily Mass, and recall sung psalm response is also the preference]

Trust all this makes sense. Thanks


A:  Thanks for the questions. All good ones.

The key to answering them is the difference between mass and a liturgical ceremony that is not mass. The liturgy you’re asking about is one of these that do not include mass, and so is the Liturgy of the Hours, a chapter from the Book of Blessings, a Vigil service the evening before a funeral mass, and the preparation rites for Holy Saturday, to use just a few examples. In all these cases, parts of the mass are missing. Some of these omissions are logical because they require a priest, but others do not, so people often wonder, “Are we supposed to supply what the liturgy seems to be missing?” The question shows a tendency to filter all Catholic prayer through the mass, and to draw the resemblance closer together.

However, these liturgies seem to be complete in themselves.

So, here’s how I’d respond:

  1. Holy communion outside mass does not begin with the sign of the cross. Mass does. Now, if you make the sign of the cross, are you in trouble? Probably not, but sometimes the absence of something lends more meaning to its presence at the mass. I realize that it seems natural to start this way, but in truth, it’s not there. The liturgy begins with the greeting.
  2. Opening prayer – that too is missing, and I think that that was the intent.
  3. Collect – is the same as the opening prayer.
  4. The Roman Missal would be the source, but the liturgy seems uninterested in it. You could ask, is it OK to include such a prayer? Well, I cannot justify it from the rubrics. But some prayer leaders probably use a collect effectively.
  5. For the gospel, yes, I suggest omit the greeting and just begin with “A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to N.” However, even that is not in the rubrics for this celebration. The gospel can just begin unannounced, as is often done at liturgy of the hours. But I think pastorally it’s good for people to know where the passage is coming from. The alleluia verse does appear in the appendix to this ritual, so the minister could speak it or sing it before the gospel, making the usual adjustments for Lent. A psalm response may be sung or recited.

In short, I trust what is there, and try not to add what is not.

ICEL is working on a revised translation of this book. The typical edition (in Latin) has not changed, but sometimes the Vatican makes some adjustments to the book before the vernacular translation is finalized. If it is the intent of the Vatican to include such things as the sign of the cross and the collect, we’re going to find out when the revised translation receives approval a few years from now.