Are you curious to know what the priest says quietly (or in a low tone) during mass? You only see the priest’s lips move – a few times just a murmur of words. These are not the presidential prayers that a priest says with a loud and clear voice. We are talking about prayers a priest is required to says during the mass in a low tone – often quietly. There are eleven secret prayers that are more like private prayers for only the priest to pray during mass. Before I tell you about these prayers, let me ask you why do priests say these prayers?
Why do you think a priest pray these secret prayers?
The church wants to make sure that the priest is fully conscious during the mass – not just celebrate the service as a routine ritual. Sacrosanctum Concilium (the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy), one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, reaffirmed that the priest needs to be fully alive and conscious about the mysteries that he is unfolding to the people.
The Bishop instructs the newly ordained priest while presenting the bread and wine: Recieve from the Holy People of God the gifts to be offered to God. Know what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross. The church rubrics make certain that the priest is acting on behalf of the people of God.
What are the prayers a priest says in secret during mass?
The General Instruction to Roman Missal (GIRM) prompts the priest to celebrate mass with attentiveness and devotion. These prayers are said before the priest proclaims the Gospel (GIRM 132), during the preparation of gifts or offertory (GIRM 143), during the preparation for Holy Communion (GIRM 156 & 158), and the purification of sacred vessels (GIRM 163). The instruction is to pray these quietly, not intended for those assembled but for the priest’s benefit. The GIRM instruction leads the priest towards a personal devotion for the Eucharist. Among these, some are rarely heard by the congregation during mass. It time to know about these amazing prayers that are seldom heard or maybe less audible during a eucharistic service.
11 Secret Prayer Priest Says During Mass
Before Proclaiming the Gospel
When a deacon is not present, the priest will bow before the altar, quietly saying: Cleanse my heart and lips, almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim the Gospel. After this, the priest will proceed to the ambo (pulpit) carrying the Book of the Gospels, often accompanied by ministers (altar servers) with incense and candles.
After Proclaiming the Gospel
At the end of the Gospel, the priest exclaims, The Gospel of the Lord. The congregation responds: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ. What you don’t hear as the priest kisses the book, he quietly says: Through the words of the Gospel, may our sins be wiped away.
Holding the Paten with the Bread
The priest holding the paten with bread, sightly raised, says is a low voice: 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 human hands, it will become for us the bread of life. And the people respond: Blessed be God. In case the offertory chant is not sung, the priest does say these words aloud. I am sure you heard these words before.
As the Priest Pours Wine and Little Water in the Chalice
During the offertory, the priest pours wine and little water in the chalice. While doing this sacred action, the priest or the deacon silently says: 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. You notice that every action has a meaningful prayer attached.
Holding the Chalice with Wine
The priest raising the chalice with wine offers this prayer: 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. Again, if the offertory chant is not sung, the priest can say the prayer aloud.
Before Washing his Hands
After bread and wine are prepared, and before washing the hands, the priest, bowing profoundly, prays: With humble spirit and contrite heart may we be accepted by you, O Lord, and may our sacrifice in your sight this day be pleasing to you, Lord God. These actions are so quick; you may miss to realize what the priest is doing or silently saying.
As the Priest Washes his Hands
The priest standing side of the altar washes his hands, saying quietly: Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Oh, yes, sometimes the altar servers do hear these words and keep wondering what it means. At times, these words are audible due to the priest’s collar microphone.
After the Sign of Peace
As the priest finishes the sign of the peace, he takes the host, breaks it over the paten, and drops a small piece of it in the chalice, saying: May this mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it.
After the Invocation of Lamb of God
The priest will join hands and say quietly: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who, by the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit, through your Death gave life to the world, free me by this, your most holy Body and Blood, from all my sins and from every evil; keep me always faithful to your commandments and never let me be parted from you.
The priest can use an alternative text: May the receiving of your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me to judgment and condemnation, but through your loving mercy be for me protection in mind and body and a healing remedy.
Priest Before Consuming the Body and Blood of Christ
The people respond: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. Then the priest will reverently consume the Body and Blood of Christ, saying: May the Body of Christ keep me safe for eternal life. Only after this prayer, the priest will consume the Body of Christ. Similarly, before drinking the Blood of Christ, the priest will say: May the Blood of Christ keep me safe for eternal life.
As the Priest Purifies the Sacred Vessels
The priest carries out the purification, quietly saying: What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity. After these words, the priest may return to the chair or observe sacred silence.
All the above prayers are used from The Roman Missal (2011), approved for use in the Dioceses of Canada by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and confirmed by the Apostolic See.
Call these secret prayers, private or personal prayers of the priest – each of them has a profound meaning.
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