Comparison of the two forms of Offertory Prayers in the Roman Rite

Padre Pio offering the hostWhenever I offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form, I am struck by the great contrast in the Offertory Prayers. As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, I wonder if this was a change made “in light of sound tradition,” and if indeed there was a genuine “pastoral need” for this revision. What were the historical and theological criteria used in making this particular change? Looking at SC in hindsight, I wonder if the Church will one day restore the traditional Offertory Prayers in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s admonition of “cross pollination” in Summorum Pontificum.

In comparing the two forms of Offertory Prayers, it is easy to recognize how disconnected with the traditional prayers they truly are. The ancient prayers are addressed to the Father,  they make a clear reference to our sinfulness and the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ about to be re-presented in our midst. The contemporary prayers  are almost identical for both the host and chalice, without any reference to sin or the atoning sacrifice and sound like a blessing you might hear any ordinary meal.

There is an added response for the congregation, following the “meal blessing,” that is nowhere to be found in the traditional formula. The prayer for the preparation of the chalice drops the blessing of the water before it is added to the wine and leaves aside the Trinitarian ending. Dropping of the blessing of water is reminiscent of the infamous Book of Blessings that gives very few blessings at all and was rectified by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on 14 September, 2002 when they stated the the Priest should add a sign of the cross over the people or object being blest. I wonder if the CDW will eventually do the same for this deprivation in the preparation of the chalice. And last but not the least is the complete removal of the prayer invoking the Holy Spirit. One would think that an invocation of the Holy Spirit would be of great significance to the action about to take place.

This is just one instance that that I believe ought to be revisited in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Following is a comparison of the two forms of the preparation of the altar for the sacrifice of Christ.


Extraordinary Form

Ordinary Form

Offering of the Bread and Wine

Presentation and Preparation of the Gifts

The Priest takes the paten with the host, and offering it up, says:

The Priest, standing at the altar, takes the paten with the bread and holds is slightly raised above the altar with both hands, saying in a low voice:

Accept, O Holy father, Almighty and Eternal God, this spotless host, which I, Your unworthy servant, offer to You, my living and true God, to atone for my numberless sins, offences, and negligences; on behalf of all here present and likewise for all faithful Christians living and dead, that it may profit me and them as a means of salvation to life everlasting. Amen.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of hymn hands, it will become for us the bread of life.

Making the Sign of the Cross with the paten, he places the host upon the corporal. (He places the paten partly under the corporal.)

He places the paten and host on the corporal,


If, however, the Offertory Chant is not sung, the Priest may speak these words aloud; at the end, the people may acclaim:

“Blessed be God for ever.”

He pours wine and water into the chalice, blessing the water before it is mixed.

The Deacon, or the Priest, pours wine and a little water into the chalice, saying quietly.

O God,  Who in creating man didst exalt his nature very wonderfully and yet more wonderfully didst establish it anew; by the Mystery signified in the mingling of this water and wine, grant us to have part in the Godhead of Him Who hath deigned to become a partaker of our humanity, Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord; Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

Offering of the Chalice


Then the Priest takes the chalice, and offers it, saying:

The Priest then takes the chalice and holds it slightly raised above the altar with both hands, saying in a low voice:

We offer unto Thee, O Lord, the chalice of salvation, entreating Thy mercy that our offering may ascend with a sweet fragrance in the sight of Thy divine Majesty, for our own salvation, and for that of the whole world. Amen.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.

The Priest makes the Sign of the Cross with the chalice, places it upon the corporal, and covers it with the pall.

Then he places the chalice on the corporal.


If, however, the Offertory Chant is not sung, the Priest may speak these words aloud; at the end, the people may acclaim:

“Blessed be God for ever.”

Then, with his hands joined upon the Altar, and slightly bowing down, he says:

After this, the Priest, bowing profoundly, says quietly:

Humbled in spirit and contrite of heart, may we find favor with Thee, O Lord: and may our sacrifice be so offered this day in Thy sight as to be pleasing to Thee, O Lord God.

With humble spirit and contrite hearty may we be accepted by you, O Lord, and may our sacrifice in your sight this day be pleasing to you, Lord God.

Raising his eyes towards heaven, extending and then joining his hands, the Priest makes the Sign of the Cross over the host and chalice, while he invokes the Holy Spirit:


Come Thou, the Sanctifier, Almighty and Everlasting God, and bless  this sacrifice which is prepared for the glory of Thy holy Name.


Experience of Ad Orientem

Whenever you make a change in a parish that is of some substance, it is important that your prepare the ground by teaching, teaching and more teaching. This year, beginning with the Easter Vigil, my parish went to “ad orientem” celebration of the Holy Mass. I had prepared the parish through a number of bulletin inserts. I had talked about it in a number of my homilies and our daily Mass has been “ad orientem” for a few years. So, overall, the people were prepared. You always have someone among the mix who doesn’t read the bulletin or are not open to change no matter how well you explain your case.

I receive a letter yesterday from someone who was visiting family in the parish. This woman never heard any of my explanations or read any of my bulletin inserts. This is part of her letter:

“I wanted to also share with you my experience attending Mass at your parish. I had never participated in a Mass ad orientem, and I am still reflecting on how much different it is than what we have now. I would not have believed if someone told me that Mass would be much more prayerful – totally focused on God rather then the actions of the priest. It’s as if when not facing the priest, you can actually visualize your prayers being offered to God through the priest to Heaven. Everything becomes prioritized or aligned – the congregation, the priest, Christ on the Cross to Heaven. It is difficult to put it all in words….”

So the experience of “ad orientem” by someone who never had an explanation. She got it. She understood what “ad orientem” is all about and in it, what the Mass is all about. I want to challenge my brother Priests to study the Liturgical teachings of Benedict XVI and put them into practice.

iPadre #216 – Sacred Music

iPadre #216 – Sacred Music

There is so much division among priests, laity and even Bishops on what music is appropriate for the Liturgy.  What does the Church say about music in the Liturgy?  In this episode I have an expert joining us and were going to talk about sacred music.

– Music: Tantum Ergo by Schola Cantorum Sanctae Caecilae
Concert at Holy Ghost on May 21, 2010 – forward to 4:00 minutes
A Chronicle of Reform by Msgr. Richard J. Schuler
Musica Sacra – Church Music Association of America
Chant Cafe – Catholic musicians gathered to blog about liturgy and life

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