Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Prayers of the Faithful

One of my personal bug-bears is the sort of wordy, politically correct prayers of the faithful (bidding prayers) that are frequently inflicted upon the congregation at Mass. The worst seem to come from booklets prepared by liturgists, though the "creativity" of liturgy groups and rogue parish sisters (to say nothing of priests who are trying too hard to be trendy) is not to be underestimated. However, I'm inclined to think that the Italians have it slightly worse in this regard. Whilst not normally as 'politically correct' as equivalent prayers in English, they're normally even more verbose and are written in a philosophically pretentious idiom which drips with social angst. Oh, and the response for the people changes from Mass to Mass and is usually too long to easily remember. That's why I got a kick out of this article (in Italian, alas!) by Sandro Magister. I wish I had time to translate the whole thing, but I'll try and convey the gist.
He begins by mentioning that Lent didn't begin in Milan until Sunday 25th of February and not with Ash Wednesday. (He also notes that Advent lasts 6 weeks in the Ambrosian Rite.) He also notes (and this is news to me) that in the Ambrosian rite the Fridays of Lent are aliturgical - Mass is not celebrated and on Good Friday Holy Communion is not distributed!
Anyway, he mentions the Milanese liturgy because even before the post-conciliar reforms, Prayers of the Faithful were offered at the start of Sunday Masses during Lent. A comparison between these Prayers of the Faithful and the offerings of 'pseudo-liturgists' (Magister's expression) is interesting, as the former are 'sober, noble and dealing with the essentials'.
A typical example of the pseudo-litugists' fare is the following:
“Difendi i giovani dalla seduzione del consumismo, dal bisogno di emergere a tutti i costi. Fa’ sperimentare loro la bellezza di un’esistenza generosa, vissuta nella sobrietà e nella condivisione. Preghiamo. Donaci, Signore, coraggio e fiducia!”.
Defend young people from the seduction of consumerism and from the need to get ahead at all costs. May they experience the beauty of an existence that is lived in sobriety and in sharing. Let us pray: Lord, give us courage and faith.
(See what I mean about the angst?)

In contrast, Magister prints (in Latin) some of the Milanese prayers, of which I'll reproduce the 1st set:
Divinae pacis, et indulgentiae munere supplicantes, ex toto corde, et ex tota mente, precamur te. Domine, miserere.
Pro Ecclesia tua sancta catholica, quae hic, et per universum orbem diffusa est, precamur te. Domine, miserere.
Pro papa nostro et pontifice nostro et omni clero eorum, omnibusque sacerdotibus ac ministris, precamur te. Domine, miserere.
Pro pace ecclesiarum, vocatione gentium, et quiete populorum, precamur te. Domine, miserere.
Pro civitate hac, et conversatione eius, omnibusque habitantibus in ea, precamur te. Domine, miserere.
Pro àerum temperie, ac fructuum fecunditate terrarum, precamur te. Domine, miserere.
Pro virginibus, viduis, orphanis, captivis, ac paenitentibus, precamur te. Domine, miserere.
Pro navigantibus, iter agentibus, in carceribus, in vinculis, in metallis, in exiliis constitutis, precamur te. Domine, miserere.
Pro his qui diversis infirmitatibus detinentur, quique spiritibus vexantur immundis, precamur te. Domine, miserere.
Pro his qui in sancta tua Ecclesia fructus misericordiae largiuntur, precamur te. Domine, miserere.
Exaudi nos Deus in omni oratione, atque deprecatione nostra, precamur te. Domine, miserere.
Dicamus omnes: Domine, miserere.
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.

And on talkative Italian priests...
And while we're talking about verbosity, Amy has a translation of another piece by Magister which (rightly!) complains about those Roman priests who took the Pope's recent Q&A session as an excuse to engage in long-winded speeches about their own pastoral activity. I know many fine Italian priests, but this does seem to be a national failing... they love to talk at great length about themselves and their pet-projects which can make Italian homilies quite unbearable.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Those prayers are annoying, but even more, they are borderline Pelagian. I mean, they aren't really prayers to God. They're little mini-lectures about values. And the response is a little mini-resolution to try and do better in the future.

Sometimes I wonder if liturgists believe in God at all.