Q: Thank you for your recent and timely answer on the Prayer of the Faithful. This question came up at a recent presbyteral convocation in our diocese, where a lot of pastors omit the POF at weekday Masses. The Liturgy Office of the diocese had said that it was not optional, but some priests pointed to the text of GIRM 69 – “IT IS DESIRABLE that there USUALLY be such a form of prayer in Masses celebrated with the people” (emphasis mine) – to indicate that it was optional. Could you please comment?
A: Hmm. Well, compare it then with GIRM 138 and OM 20. GIRM 138 describes mass without a deacon and says that the priest “calls upon the faithful to participate in the Universal Prayer.” In the Order of Mass, right after the Creed, it says “Then follows the Universal Prayer.” In neither of those citations is there any hemming or hawing.
I guess you could argue that 69 does not require it, but it sure does promote it. And the other citations presume that it is happening.
The Universal Prayer is indeed prayer “of the faithful,” in which they exercise “the office of their baptismal Priesthood” (GIRM is 69). Even if you consider it optional, why on earth would you keep baptized people from praying?