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Preparing for Mass: Taking a Cue from A Prayer for Priests

April 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Fr. Bryan Jerabek, Liturgy, Mass, Prayer

Preparing for Mass: Taking A Cue from A Prayer for Priests

for post on preparing for Mass

A little over five years have now passed since the new translation of the Roman Missal went into effect in the various English-speaking countries. In this wonderful new edition, if you turn to the latter part of Appendix VI, there are prayers that the priest is encouraged to say before and after Mass. And one of them – the “Formula of Intent” – is, I think, very important and worth sharing with you today. Here it is:

My intention is to celebrate Mass
and to consecrate the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ
according to the Rite of Holy Roman Church,
to the praise of almighty God
and all the Church triumphant,
for my good
and that of all the Church militant,
for all who have commended themselves to my prayers
in general and in particular,
and for the welfare of Holy Roman Church.
Amen.

Should a lay person pray this prayer as-written? No. He or she does not share in Christ’s ministerial priesthood. However, by virtue of his or her baptism, a lay person does share in the priesthood of the faithful. That is to say, baptism qualifies every lay person to make a pleasing offering to God and to offer him fitting worship. Perhaps this prayer could be adapted, then? I think so.

Let’s give it a try. What if you were to come to church a good 10 minutes before Mass, and in the process of quietly recollecting yourself, recited devoutly something like the following prayer (adapted from the one above)?

My intention is to participate in this Mass fully, consciously and actively,
and to worship the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ
made present on the altar by the priest according to the Rite of Holy Roman Church,
to the praise of almighty God
and all the Church triumphant,
for my good
and that of all the Church militant,
for all who have commended themselves to my prayers
in general and in particular,
and for the welfare of Holy Roman Church.
Amen.

Might such prayer change the way that you participate in Mass? I think it would. Saying this prayer each Sunday and Holy Day, and whatever other days you might be able to go to Mass, you would begin to see yourself as part of a larger scene, so to speak: as a soldier in the Church militant who has something to bring to the battle. You might more effectively remember to pray for the many intentions you accumulate throughout each week, by consciously offering them both generally and in particular. You may look upon your baptismal priesthood in a new way: you have something to offer to God as well!

It is so important that we make a fruitful preparation for Holy Mass. If the Eucharist is, as the Church teaches, the “source and summit” of our Christian life, then let us act as if that were the case! We have probably all seen Masses that were celebrated shabbily, by ministers who seemingly did not prepare themselves well for what they were about to do. Do we participate in Mass rather shabbily ourselves?

It surely is a struggle to stay recollected and to give it our all. But it’s easier when we have taken some time to prepare beforehand. The adapted “Formula of Intent” prayer above might help. Try it and see!

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Art for this post Preparing for Mass: Taking a Cue from a Prayer for Priests: Missale Romanum, photographed by Lima, 24 September 2006, CCA-SA 2.5 Generic, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. Bryan Jerabek

Father Bryan W. Jerabek, J.C.L. is a priest of the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama, currently serving as Rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul in Birmingham, Chancellor of the Diocese, and Judge on the Marriage Tribunal. He received his License in Canon Law from the Pontifical College of the Holy Cross in Rome. His personal blog is fatherjerabek.com. Besides his native English, Father also speaks Spanish and Italian. He enjoys traveling and so far has been to 18 countries. Father’s present favorite food is Spanish tortilla.

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  • Jeanette

    Thank you Fr. Jerabek. This is a very worthy prayer to prepare ourselves for Mass.

    • NancyD

      Thank you, Father, for your thoughtful adaptation of the priest’s prayer of intent. I have written it down and will carry it with me always, so I will remember to pray and prepare for every Mass.

  • LizEst

    You know, Richard, I thought of that as well. Still, those who have died are always prayed for during the Mass; so, perhaps that is the reason. The Holy Souls in Purgatory are my number one intention of all time. You can always adapt the prayer to include them as well. God love you!

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