Sunday, March 27, 2011

Can't We Sit Down?

At Mass today (the Novus Ordo) I was struck again by how silly it seems to stand for the so-called "Prayers of the Faithful."

Sure, standing used to be the normative posture for all of Mass (still is at the Eucharistic liturgies in the East) and then kneeling was introduced in the West for (first) penitential things and then (later) as a sign of special humility or reverence at the most important parts. And then only finally was sitting allowed for what came to be seen as the "least important" parts (like the non-Gospel readings, the Offertory, etc).

At the Novus Ordo we stand for the Prayers of the Faithful, even though I am inclined to consider them one of these "least important parts." Frankly, they often seem to me more like part of the announcements rather than a part of Mass warranting standing!

Admittedly, in the traditional High Mass, the general practice is for the congregation to stand for the "Dominus Vobiscum" and "Oremus"-followed-by-no-prayer even if they have been sitting while the choir finished the Credo, and even though they are going to sit right back down again for the Offertory. This suggests that, like at traditional Good Friday, the posture for these prayers (were they to be restored) would traditionally have been standing ("Levate," after all).

However, I just have a really hard time making the comparison between the Novus Ordo "Prayers of the Faithful" and those at traditional Good Friday (and which hypothetically would have happened on more days even). I'd be all for restoring those to the Old Rite, even, as long as they were done in the manner of Good Friday: with standardized set petitions (some of which would be daily, others of which could be votive based on local need, like the Collects), a "flectamus genua" and "levate" (at least once for the group, if not for each petition), and a closing collect at the end. If it were logical and structured like that.

But these things at the Novus Ordo ad libbed or drawn up by some parish committee ("For the sake of the Women's Auxiliary's Knitting Club's bake-sale; that we may grow in our stewardship as we grow in our feminine fellowship: Lord hear our prayer!" ugh)...just aren't the same.

I really don't think they deserve for us to stand during them. In their current Novus Ordo form, at least, they just aren't as important as the Gospel or even the collects. So I think the least they could do is just let us sit down already during these obnoxious, grating, and untraditional petitions.


Anonymous said...

I think we should just ditch the prayers of the faithful. They're hopelessly trite, disconnected and artificial---we will have community, damnit!

This became quite clear to me when the prayer for the sick was stated as such:

"And let us pray for the sick in our community, especially for those whose names appear on our bulletin board".

We can't name them because 90% of us don't even know who they are. Its just tokenism.

Instead, why don't we just trim the whole affair down to one sentence and one response. "Let us pray for the intentions on the bulletin board". Done. Or "Let us pray for that for which we pray".

A Sinner said...

Agreed. But, assuming they aren't going to ditch them completely anytime soon, I at least shouldn't have to give them the false-respect of standing for them...

Fr Paul said...

They could (should) be replaced by a traditional, and truly liturgical litany form, which is laid out in the liturgical books and not left to be freely composed; in other words, a form like that taken ("again and again") by their equivalent in the Byzantine rite

Who Am I said...

What NO Mass do you go to that you stand for The Prayers of The Faithful ? I've never seen that happen in my experience, we all just usually sit throughout the entire thing. Things really are different where you're from.

I doubt anyone would want to sit through the ENTIRE Great Synapte. BTW, aren't there canons AGAINST kneeling on Sundays ?

James Kabala said...

Isn't the likely reason why people stand during the Prayers of the Faithful because they are already standing for the Creed? Once the congregation is already up, it seems more natural to wait until the Offertory to sit back down. Of course, many loosey-goosey priests (illegally) omit the Creed these days, but even then, but I think the habit carries over from Masses where the Creed is said.

A Sinner said...

To me, given that it occurs on a sitting/standing boundary anyway, I see no reason to continue standing as at the Credo rather than sitting "sooner" for the Offertory.

Thom, sfo said...

I can't think of a better time to present our petitions to G-d Almighty than during the Mass. Standing or sitting, "intercession" is part of our duty as Christians.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the Prayer of the Faithful was one of the first forced commands, um, I mean "liturgical renewals" of the Concilium. It hasn't aged well with time.

I think the PotF is optional on weekdays. If I were a priest (and had to say the OF) I would simply drop it during the week.

Sundays: After the sermon I would read the banns, the Mass intention, pray for the intercession of a saint, pray a Hail Mary, and implore the mercy of the Most Sacred Heart. That's "Prayer of the Faithful" enough for anyone. If a layman absolutely needs to say it, I'll have one of the altar servers read the same facing the pews from the epistle side.

The absolute worst PotF is the "shout-out" version. That's when the priest introduces the PotF with "and what shall we pray for?" or something like that. Somehow, you'll always find that one person who turns his or her petition into a two minute monologue that ends with a Rodney King-esque "can we all get along?" sappy cliche plea. Jesuits love the shout-out PotF. If only St. Ignatius Loyola knew the liturgical depths to which his soldiers for Christ have descended.

Who Am I said...

If they wish to incorporate a Prayer of The Faithful, why not just incorporate it from The Divine Liturgy or The Great Synapte ? I understand that SOME "ad libbed" Prayers of The Faithful are a stand in for when a Mass CAN'T be said for a particular intention (Someone is going into surgery etc.), but yes I agree some are a bit bizarre. Then again, it speaks volumes that it bothers people praying for an individual they do not know. I just thought I would throw that latter piece out there. That being said, I do not understand why Masses in The Latin Rite allow for solely ONE Mass intention during The Sacrifice of The Mass. Within The Byzantine and Eastern Liturgies, it has been my experience that multiple intentions are offered. That's just a passing observation for anyone interested.

@Anonymous: Want to turn back the clock with the sex abuse scandal that has been reported amongst The Jesuits :

I'm still trying to figure out what social factors played into this. Yes, sin is always there, but the fact that this was going on WELL before The 1960s makes me think something ELSE happened to set this off. Oh yeah, I should mention that the abused victims were little girls and not boys this time, so people can't really say it was because of homosexuality (Which people can't really argue either.). Honestly though, it seems that something else was up that no one is talking about.