Tuesday, 22 May 2012

On the Hail Mary during Mass

I was surprised to read that +Conry was suggesting that we cease praying the Hail Mary after the Prayer of the Faithful, or Bidding prayers.  I was still more surprised to hear that Rome was behind the request.

As I understand it, the argument is that the Mass is addressed to God the Father, through the Son and in the unity of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore devotional prayers such as the Hail Mary are out of place.

I follow the logic, but think there are a few additional considerations.

One is quite simply that this approach to Liturgy seems over simplistic and uni-vocal to me.

A second is that the priest turns to the faithful (assuming he's correctly oriented to start with) and says: Let us pray, and nobody thinks that an aberration (as far as I know).  So why may we not turn to our Mother and say: Pray for us (for that is the essence of the Hail Mary).

A third, and related, point is that the whole dynamic of the Prayer of the Faithful is to encourage the Faithful to pray for particular intentions, and they are invited to do so by a formula asking for a response.  Why should we not ask she who is All-Faithful, the Mother of the Church, to pray for these same intentions?

Fourth, if we are to align our worship in this country more closely to the Roman norm (something I would certainly favour) I don't think I would start there.  It is scarcely the most pressing priority.

Finally, I think that such a change will need extremely sensitive handling if it is not to be an affront to the sensibilities of the Faithful. Devotion to Our Lady remains strong in many in this country.  Do we really need to offend their sensibilities?

I would raise the point about immemorial custom, but as the Prayer of the Faithful has only been in the Mass since the revisions of the last century, I am not sure on what the Herald bases the claim that the practice is of Medieval origin...

Having said all of which, I acknowledge the authority of the Church to regulate the Liturgy, and will dutifully submit if the prayer is repressed (though I don't think that means I can't pray it silently...)


Patricius said...

I remember the introduction of the Bidding Prayers c.1965/67 (shortly after I reached double figures-so please excuse imprecise date). I seem to recall being told at the time that it was the re-introduction of a medieval practice- "bidding the bedes". Initially, priests had a book which contained set prayers, some of the phrases of which were striking and memorable. I recall one for the Queen and "those who govern our country" and another for our Catholic schools with a line about "the enterprises we undertake". I wonder if anyone else recalls them. As for the Hail Mary, this was not said abroad but the story I was told a few years ago was that Cardinal Heenan got a special indult allowing it in England and Wales. Given some of the nonsensical Bidding Prayers one hears in some places and the inappropriate hymns which so often replace the proper texts of the Mass one would have thought that these might have been a better subject for episcopal attention. On the other hand... discouraging Confession and curtailing devotion to Our Lady... is this bishop in the right church?

Marc said...

I expect the notion that the Ave Maria is legally used 'because of custom' is based on canon 26:

Can. 26 Unless it has been specifically approved by the competent legislator, a custom which is contrary to the canon law currently in force, or is apart from the canon law, acquires the force of law only when it has been lawfully observed for a period of thirty continuous and complete years....

'Immemorial custom' seems to require at least 100 years of history (cc 26b and 28), so I don't see how that can fit the use of the Ave Maria.