Q: My new pastor has a prayer with the servers and readers before Mass begins. I like this. Would you agree that this is a good practice?
A: Yes! In the pre-Vatican II days, the priest said a set of prayers while he vested for Mass. These vesting prayers fulfilled an understandable human need to prepare oneself for important tasks by asking God’s help. These prayers aimed to put the priest in a proper frame of mind for what he was about to do.
Most of the cards and plaques with these prayers have been relegated to bottom drawers of vesting counters or to church storerooms. The present Roman Missal includes celebrant’s prayers of preparation for Mass by St. Ambrose and St. Thomas Aquinas, and several other such prayers as well as several prayers of thanksgiving after Mass.
In one of our Saturday morning prayer intentions at St. John’s Abbey, we ask the Lord to “inspire all pastors and liturgical ministers who are preparing to celebrate liturgies with their communities this weekend.” Prayerful recollection by the celebrant and other liturgical ministers is never out of date or out of place.
Before the celebration of the Eucharist the sacristy can be a busy, noisy place: servers are getting vested and getting their instructions, readers are reviewing their Scripture readings (I assume they have prepared these readings at home also), other people are there with various needs.
All should try to be quiet in the sacristy and avoid making unnecessary noise. The priest, servers, readers and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion will appreciate a few moments of silence and prayer before Mass. Prayer together in the sacristy can help them prepare to serve God and God’s people during the liturgy. If we pray before important events in our daily lives, why shouldn’t we pray before worship — that most important event in our spiritual lives?
Here are two possible prayers for a group of liturgical ministers to use before ministering during the liturgy:
• Blessed are you, Lord God, by your angels and saints in the throne room of heaven and by your holy people gathered as the Church on earth.
We join with worshipers of all times and places to praise your glory revealed in Christ Jesus and to give thanks for your saving deeds.
Send your Holy Spirit, source of all our prayer, to all who serve your people at the liturgy. Help us to worship you in spirit and truth. Guide the thoughts of our hearts, the words of our mouths, and the work of our hands, so that our service may give you glory.
All honor and praise to you, loving Father, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and brother, in the power of the Holy Spirit, both now and forever. Amen.
• Lord God, be powerfully present in every word we speak, every note we sing, every action we perform, so that in all we say and do, you may be glorified, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
These prayers can be put in the first-person singular for individual use.
Benedictine Father Michael Kwatera, a monk of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, serves as the abbey’s director of liturgy. Please send your questions on liturgy to him at mkwatera@ csbsju.edu or at St. John’s Abbey, P.O. Box 2015, Collegeville, MN 56321-2015.