An Occasion to Celebrate – Masses for Clergy and Religious
Oct 25, 2022

An Occasion to Celebrate – Masses for Clergy and Religious

The first section of Masses for Various Needs and Occasions in the Roman Missal includes a number of Mass formularies for clergy and religious. Specifically, there are entire Mass formularies for the pope, for the bishop, for priests in general, for the priest celebrant himself, for deacons and instituted ministers, for religious, and for vocations to holy orders and to religious life. While the Missale Romanum of 1962 possessed Mass formularies for a number of these categories of persons, the prayers found in the corresponding Masses in the Missal of Paul VI are largely new. A few are found elsewhere in the current missal for other uses.

Mass for Pope or Bishop

The Mass for a pope (no. 2) can be used on the day of his election or the day of the inauguration of his ministry. It might also be used on his birthday or name day if the liturgical calendar permits it. Three collects are available. The second of these collects, along with the prayer over the gifts, are taken from the 1962 missal with some editing.

The Mass for a bishop (no. 3) can likewise be celebrated on the day of his election, ordination, installation, or translation to a new see, or even on his name day or birthday if the calendar permits it and some pastoral reason suggests it. Like the Mass for a pope, the second of three collects is taken from the 1962 Missal. The super oblata and post communion are from the revised rite of ordination of a bishop.

Finally, in the formulary for the election of a pope or a bishop (no. 4), the introit and super oblata and post communion are taken from the 1962 formulary for the election of a pope with some editing. Historically, the Roman Rite has allowed for a measure of flexibility in the choice of prefaces for many occasions. Masses offered for the pope or the bishop could conceivably use the preface from the ordination of a bishop from the section of ritual Masses in the missal if the circumstances suggested it.

Mass for Priests

The current missal includes one formulary for priests in general (no. 6) and three formularies for the priest celebrant himself (no. 7: A, B, C). The Mass for priests in general (no. 6) might be used at the celebration of the jubilees of priests or some gathering of priests. The second collect and the other two orations for this Mass were derived from the orations composed for the revised rite of ordination of a priest in 1968.

Among the three formularies for the priest celebrant himself, the third (no. 7C) is intended for the celebration of his anniversary of ordination. The other two might be used by the priest when offering Mass without the participation of the faithful for the sake of his devotion. Of these two, the first (no. 7A) is intended for a priest who serves as the pastor of a parish. While the 1962 Missal had a complete Mass for the priest himself, these orations are new compositions for the revised missal. Again, the preface for priests from the ordination Mass or Chrism Mass might serve well on a given occasion.

Mass for Ministers

The Mass for the ministers of the Church (no. 8) is also a set of new compositions with no precedent in the missal of 1962. Beginning in 1969, they served as the Mass prayers at the ordination of deacons. They were finally incorporated into the rite of ordination of deacons in 1989. These prayers could also serve for gatherings of deacons or their anniversaries, along with the preface from the ritual Mass for ordination of deacons. The same prayers are used at Masses for the institution of acolytes and lectors, although without the preface for deacons naturally. Although it has not yet been specified by the Dicastery for Divine Worship, it may be that this Mass formulary will also serve for the institution of catechists in the future. The missal of 1962 also had a Mass for the promotion of vocations to holy orders, but the prayers in the revised missal for this intention (no. 9) are new compositions.

Mass for Religious

There are two sets of formularies for the Mass “For Religious,” (no 13: A, B). The second of the two (no. 13B) is intended for the 25th or 50th jubilee of religious profession. These might be used for a religious celebrating a significant anniversary in a parish or with his or her religious community. These orations for religious are unrelated to the orations for religious profession found elsewhere in the missal.

There is an additional Mass formulary for vocations to religious life (no. 14). In this formulary, the second collect and part of the second post communion prayer are directly taken from the corresponding prayers in the missal of 1962. This set of Mass prayers could be used on the anniversary of founding of a religious congregation in the parish or on a date of some other significance to the community, provided that the liturgical calendar permits this choice. The preface from the ritual Mass for religious profession could profitably be used on such occasions as well.

Eucharistic Prayers

The missal also suggests using two of the four “Eucharistic Prayers for Use in Masses with Various Needs” with these dozen Mass formularies. Prayer I, “The Church on the Path of Unity,” is suggested for the Masses “For the Pope,” “For the Bishop,” “For the Election of a Pope or a Bishop,” “For Priests,” “For the Priest Himself,” or “For Ministers of the Church.” Prayer II, “God Guides His Church along the Way of Salvation,” is suggested for Masses “For Vocations to Holy Orders,” “For Vocations to Religious Life,” or “For Religious.”

The use of the Mass formularies for clergy and religious will be more limited than other sets of orations in the Masses for Various Needs and Occasions. Nevertheless, on the appropriate occasion, their use can help those present raise their minds and hearts to God in intercession and thanksgiving for the witness of life of bishops, priests, deacons, and consecrated religious in the life of the universal church, the local diocesan church, and the parish.

For previous instalments of Msgr. Caron’s An Occasion to Celebrate series, see:

Msgr. Marc B. Caron, S.T.D., is the vicar general and the moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Portland, ME. He has served as a pastor, as the director of the diocesan Office for Worship, and as a chancellor of the diocese. Most recently, he was a member of the faculty of St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, MA, where he was also director of liturgy. In 2021, he received the doctoral degree from the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, writing on the sacramental nature of the diaconate. He is the author of a number of articles which have appeared in The Jurist, Worship, Catechumenate, and Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

Image Source: AB/Vision Vocation Guide on Flickr