End of Mass Prayers

11-21-2021Pastor's LetterFr. John C. Granato

My Dear Friends,

We are coming upon the end of the Mass in these writings. The great Eucharistic Prayer has just been prayed and now we come to the Our Father. In the older form of Mass, the people would respond with only the last line of the Our Father, “But deliver us from evil.” The reformed liturgy has the priest and people praying the Our Father together. After the Our Father, the priest prays, “Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Interestingly, once again, the church changed this post Our Father prayer. In the older form, the priest would say, “Deliver us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all evils, past, present, and to come; and by the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary ever Virgin, Mother of God, together with Thy blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and Andrew, and all the saints, mercifully grant peace in our days: that through the help of Thy mercy we may always be free from sin and safe from all trouble. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.”

After he prays the names of the apostles in this prayer, the priest would make the sign of the cross with the paten then he would kiss the paten. It was at this point that the priest would break the Host and place half of the Host on the paten, which is why he would have kissed the paten since it would hold the broken Body of our Lord. The priest would then break a smaller piece of the other half of the Host and place the smaller piece in the chalice by making the sign of the cross three times and reciting, “May the peace of the Lord be always with you,” and you would have responded, “And with your spirit.” After saying the Lamb of God, the priest would continue with the prayer for peace. “O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst say to Thy Apostles, peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: regard not my sins, but the faith of Thy Church, and vouchsafe to her that peace and unity which is agreeable to Thy will, Who livest and reignest, God, forever and ever Amen.”

After this, the priest would say to the deacon, “Peace be with you,” and he would respond “And with your spirit.” This prayer is similar to what the priest still says in our current Mass, but the difference is that he says this after the Lamb of God, and he only gives the sign of the cross to the deacon after he kisses the altar. This was the sign of peace for hundreds of years before the reformed liturgy restored. The sign of peace, though, is only optional and could be skipped. It is also meant to be a very dignified and sober exchange of peace with your immediate neighbors in the pews. It was never meant to be a free for all and an opportunity to wave to everyone across the church as if you were a politician running for office. At one time priests would also walk up and down the aisle and give the sign of peace to many people, which was considered an abuse and which Pope St. John Paul II tried to fix by writing a document on the liturgy that prohibited the priest form leaving the sanctuary at that moment. With our Lord truly present on the altar, it would be inappropriate for the priest to leave our Lord unattended while leaving the sanctuary to give a sign of peace that he already offered in his own words when he says, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.”

One of the premises of the Second Vatican Council’s document on the liturgy was to get rid of redundant prayers, symbols or gestures; yet many people who were happy to see the removal of these redundancies had no problem with being redundant by repeating the sign of peace. The communion preparation for the priest was done alone before the preparation for the rest of the faithful. He would receive communion himself after saying the prayers that we still say, but the “Lord, I am not worthy” prayer was said three times, not once. After his communion, he would then hold the Host up for the faithful and they would say the “Lord I am not worthy” prayer three times as well. Then, the final blessing and dismissal are said. In the older rite, the final blessing was prayed after the dismissal, and the priest said, “May the performance of my homage be pleasing to Thee, O Holy Trinity; and grant that the sacrifice which I, though unworthy, have offered up in the sight of Thy majesty, may be acceptable to Thee, and through Thy mercy be a propitiation for me and for all those for whom it has been offered. Through Christ our Lord Amen.” Then he adds the blessing, “May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.”