Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Weekly Q&A- Post Sandy edition

This is a good week to recall that the Church allows us to add specific intentions to  the intercessions of lauds and vespers. It is suggested that these be added after the intercessions given in the breviary, although the final intention for the dead at evening prayer should remain as the last one. In other words, add your specific intentions before this petition for the dead.

This can be as simple as "For the victims of Hurricane Sandy" (Lord hear our prayer) since the Lord knows what all their needs are better than we do.
Or if you like, you may pray more specifically for their material and spiritual needs: medical aid, shelter, etc., and for the souls of those who were lost in this storm. You may even "tack" this on to an intercession in the breviary that already mentions the homeless or the dead by simply adding, "especially for the victims of hurricane Sandy."

It's yet another of those mysterious "both/and" situations regarding prayer. There are times when it is best and most heartfelt to intercede for others with few words, or just the "sighs and groanings" that the Holy Spirit gives us. On the other hand, there are times when praying specifically and in detail about our needs is better for us.  Yes, God knows what we are going to pray for. But sometimes, until we pray at length and in detail, we clarify what the need is in our own minds and,--this is important--exercise our faith and desire for the gifts God is waiting to give us. In last week's Office of Readings, the second readings were mostly from St. Augustine's Letter to Proba on prayer. He took up precisely this topic on Sunday (29th week).  He continued on Monday thru Wednesday with  a remarkable commentary on the Our Father, comparing its verses to verses from the psalms expressing the identical sentiments. On Thursday and Friday he brought up the quandary we often have of wondering whether we are asking for what is best when we pray.   It's worth reading all six days of this letter any time you need clarity on what prayer is, how to pray, and why to pray.
Here is a link to the entire letter to Proba, about twice as long as the excerpts we get in the Liturgy of the Hours. If you just want the excerpts, go to the online breviary of your choice.

It's weekly Q&A time. Submit any Divine Office difficulties, queries or comments below.

Don't forget that you start the office of All Saint's tonight with Evening Prayer I!


  1. Hi Daria,

    thanks for this about meditation on intentions in prayer. I really liked the letter to Proba, and especially that bit about using prayer to exercise our desire and enlarge our capacity to receive.

    Now, on the the Q and A. I'm a bit overwhelmed/confused by the liturgy for All Saints, at least as it appeared in my missal. Are the hours for the next two days going to provide any guideposts along the way?


  2. Susan, I'm not exactly sure what you are confused about. Be more specific and I'll do my best to help you figure things out.

  3. Sorry, Daria.
    I was not clear.
    I think my missal confused me for several reasons,not the least of which was conflating All Souls with All Saints... and because I saw there were 3 masses for All Souls with both short and long forms plus old testament readings. I know the mass forms and the LOTH are separate, so I should clarify that my questions were about the mass not the office. To wit: why are there 3 masses for All Souls, which is tomorrow, Nov. 2? thanks for your patience.

  4. I believe priests traditionally were (are?) allowed to celebrate three Requiem Masses on All Souls' Day. The first one is proper to the day; the second is similar to the votive Requiem on the anniversary of a death; the third is similar to the daily votive Requiem. Why this is set up this way, I have no idea. But maybe Daria does! :)

    1. Scott, I don't have much to add. It seems that the three masses are for the benefit of the priest: the first is the proper mass of the feast, the others so that the priest may offer mass on this day for those who have died in his parish and/or his own relatives and friends who have died. says the third is to offer mass that day for the Holy Father's intentions. I haven't checked other sources yet to see whether they agree.

  5. Thank you, Scott and Daria.
    I use the missal to follow along at mass,some days with greater success than others, what with intervening feast days other solemnities. I've had it for a long while, and am just now finding my way around in it. Now I just need to research the difference between requiem masses and proper masses...


  6. Here's a bit more about the three masses on All Souls:

    "During World War I, Pope Benedict XV, recognizing the number of war dead and the numerous Masses that could not be fulfilled because of destroyed Churches, granted all priests the privilege of offering three Masses on All Souls Day: one for the particular intention, one for all of the faithful departed, and one for the intentions of the Holy Father." from this article at Catholic Education

    And a little more: "Under normal circumstances, Monday through Saturday, a priest is permitted to celebrate no more than two Holy Masses. The celebration of two Masses on the same day is called “bination.” On Sundays and Holy Days, a priest may celebrate three Masses (“trination”) if he has the permission of his bishop or because of necessity, which is increasingly become the norm in these days of scarcity of priests.

    As with many other laws of the Church, this limitation makes common sense. Priests should celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with attentiveness and devotion. The more Masses that a priest must say on the same day, the greater the possibility that he may lose focus and concentration. Holy Mass must not be celebrated distractedly, absent-mindedly, or in a bored fashion.

    All Souls Day is the only non-Sunday/Holy Day in the Church Year on which a priest is permitted to celebrate three Masses. This permission is a vivid symbol by which Holy Mother Church encourages us to pray for the Souls in Purgatory." from Pertinacious Papist

    Kind of fascinating.