Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Intercession Trivia& Ban Intercession Awkwardness

 Did you ever notice that the prayers of intercession in Morning Prayer are of a different character than those of Evening Prayer? If not, take a look.

In the morning, we are still aiming at starting the day off right, that is, sanctifying it, and renewing our dedication to God. So these intercessions will focus on praising divine attributes and begging for divine assistance to help us grow in holiness. It's the Evening Prayer intercessions where we will pray for the needs of others: the pope and bishops, priests, for vocations, for the poor, the sick, and (this one every single day) the dead.
This distinction between morning and evening intercessions is not hard and fast. You'll see an occasional intercession for others in morning prayer, and occasional intercessions in evening prayer related to personal holiness. Also, on some Fridays, personal repentance and conversion predominates even during Evening prayer intercessions.

More trivia. Many people who own four-volume breviaries aren't aware of an appendix of alternative, shorter intercessions that may be used in place of what is in the four week psalter.

Rubrics trivia: there are several options for how to pray the intercessions. Some are only meant for group recitation of the liturgy when one person functions as a leader. But whether in a group or private, most people try to use several options at once, as a result doing the intercessions incorrectly. To wit:

*The introductory, opening sentence of the intercessions is only meant when there is a group with a leader. If you are praying alone, you should just start with the first intercession.
*Each intercession has two parts, and a repeating, "Lord hear our prayer"-type response. You may do one of the following with these elements:
 a. in a group, the leader reads both parts of the intercessions and the group responds with the "Lord hear our prayer"-type response. OR the group leader reads the first part of the intercession and the group responds with the second part, in which case the "Lord, hear our prayer"-thing is not said by anyone!!! OR the group without a leader takes turns with the two parts of the intercessions, but  in this case, once again, no one says the "Lord hear our prayer"-response!
b. When praying alone, you just say the two parts of the intercession, and omit the "Lord hear our prayer" -thing. If you are praying with one other person, one of you may read both parts of the intercession and the other do the "Lord hear our prayer."
What is NOT correct--although it is done everywhere--is for the same person/s to say the second half of the intercession, and then aso say the Lord hear our prayer-response. It should be intuitive that it is awkward to do so (your responding to your own response--doesn't that feel odd?), but since the instructions in the ordinary don't explain how to do the intercessions, and almost no one bothers to read the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours, we end up with an epidemic of Intercession Awkwardness.

I feel like a liturgical geek army of one in the Ban Intercession Awkwardness movement. But boy, it felt good to rant about this today.


  1. I'm glad you're a liturgical geek. All these years I've been doing the intercessions wrong. Thanks for clearing things up. Better late than never.

  2. I wonder what else I'm doing wrong.

  3. What about the responsory after the reading in the Morning and Evening prayers and the OOR? They also seem to be set up for groups (duh!)Should a single person read those as written? I think it would be odd if you didn't read it all - however I would like an expert opinion :D

  4. The first thing to know about the MP and EP responsories is that they are optional and may be ommitted (which comes in handy if you are in a hurry). I usually say them, but do omit repeating the first line, which is obviously repeated with a group situation in mind. So for example, this morning a solitary person would read "The Lord is risen from the tomb, alleluia, alleluia," and continue with "He hung upon the cross for us,alleluia,alleluia"
    As to the 3 sets of responsories in the OOR the General Instructions do not say that these can be ommitted. But none of them have the same redundancy problem, so it doesn't feel odd to pray them alone.

    Whoever put the breviary together designed it for group recitation, which is in fact the ideal for liturgy. You have to dig through the General Instruction to find the options for the solitary person.

    1. Thank you! I knew I could count on you!

  5. Love this blog post. I'm putting it on my blog's Facebook page!


  6. It seems to me that when I pray alone all I have to do is skip the parts of the responsories and the intercessions that follow the dash symbol except the amens.

  7. Well! I am pleased to discover that all our stumbling at Secular Franciscan meetings with LOH, we do manage to get the intercessions-in-a-group right :)
    Glad to learn about the differences for individual prayer, because when you're by yourself, some of this DOES seem a bit awkward.

  8. The G.I. (188) says special intentions are allowed at Lauds and Vespers. I've heard these are after the final intercession at Lauds and after the penultimate intercession at Vespers but can't find this confirmed anywhere. Can anyone advise on this please?