Q: The Roman Missal’s Order of Mass, n. 137 has:
“When the distribution of Communion is over, the Priest or a Deacon or an acolyte purifies the paten over the chalice and also the chalice itself.
While he carries out the purification, the Priest says quietly:
What has passed our lips as food, O Lord,
may we possess in purity of heart,
that what has been given to us in time
may be our healing for eternity.”
The deacon is not described as saying this prayer, even though he would do the purification, if present. It is described for the Priest in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, n. 163, but not for the Deacon in n. 183.
But it seems strange if the Priest, not the ordinary minister to do the purification, would have a more complete way of doing it – that includes the prayer.
Do you think a deacon and instituted acolyte should also say the prayer when doing the purification?
A: Answering from the rubrics, I say no, the only one who offers a prayer during purification is the priest. The missal clearly assigns a private prayer to the deacon when he adds water to the wine, and it clearly transforms the priest’s private prayer before proclaiming the gospel into one he says for the deacon when the deacon proclaims the gospel. Given that evidence, I think that the missal would have said something more explicit if it intended the prayer to accompany every purification, no matter the minister.
I think it’s one of the loveliest prayers and one of the best English translations in the missal. If some deacon or acolyte offered the prayer silently, there would probably be no objection.
However, the missal in general assigns such prayers to the priest as an inspiration to live a pure life before coming to Mass (something of which he must be especially attentive), a reminder of where he should have his heart during the Mass (focusing intently on his ministry), and because the articulation of prayers is something that especially pertains to the priest’s ministry (as in the words he alone says, “Let us pray“).