Q: Many thanks for your insights and pastoral approach to the Sacred Liturgy. As a Director of Liturgy for my Diocese I find your responses so helpful in being faithful to the Church.
My question has to do with the place of the Universal Prayer and Creed when the Scrutinies are celebrated on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent.
After the Dismissal of the Elect, the rubric under “Liturgy of the Eucharist” (when Mass continues) describes what is now called the “Universal Prayer” to be prayed followed by the recitation of the Profession of Faith (Creed). I still find that order difficult to accomplish in a parish setting (so many people question it after Mass) since the reverse order is what’s common every other Lord’s Day and Solemnity.
Do you know the reason for this order in the Scrutinies? Is it a historical remnant from the past or something else that makes sense from a theological/liturgical perspective?
A: It does feel odd, but that is the way that the liturgy flows. And the scrutinies are not the only rites that call for that inversion. For example, so does the Order of Celebrating Matrimony when a wedding takes place during a solemnity, such as a Saturday night Mass (See OCM 69). And the Order of Baptism of Children places the Universal Prayer (310) before the renewal of baptism promises (320-322), which replaces the Creed (309). During the Ordination of Priests, the Creed is said if the ordination takes place on a solemnity (138), and Universal Prayer is omitted because of the Litany of Supplication (126-127).
I think what’s under this is an understanding that in these circumstances, the petitions are so tightly connected to the special rite that they are enclosed within it. The Creed follows at the first opportunity.
I’ve done it enough now that it feels OK, but I need to alert at least whoever is reading the petitions and the ushers because the sequence will throw off those ministers more than any others.