St. Michael's Prayer Before the Final Blessing

Date: October 9, 2022
Author: Fr. Edward McNamara, LC

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and sacramental theology and director of the Sacerdos Institute at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum university.

Question: In light of your 2018 article "St. Michael Prayer at Mass," is it lawful for a priest to let the faithful pray that prayer right before the final blessing, that is, even before the Mass has ended? May he have this prayer prayed at the particular part before the final blessing even without the bishop's permission? And even if that priest was indeed given permission by his bishop, will doing so still be lawful, taking into consideration Inter Oecumenici no. 48-j? Also, is praying other additional prayers (e.g. Oratio Imperata, novena prayers) during the "announcement" part before the final blessing allowed? -- M.A.S., Philippines

Answer: As mentioned in the cited article, such prayers may be admitted but should usually be said after the dismissal.

While the period between the closing prayer and the dismissal may be used occasionally for announcements, it would not seem appropriate to use them for other vocal prayers. Once Mass has properly concluded, a priest could make a pastoral judgment regarding the spiritual utility of these prayers, but they should not be included in the Mass proper.

It was once common to make community prayers of thanksgiving after Mass, but the current liturgy would seem to privilege the sacred silence after communion for this purpose.

However, as seen in the recommendations of the bishops mentioned in the original article, there does not seem to be any intrinsic objections to prolonging the thanksgiving after the conclusion of the Mass. Hence, if a priest should deem it pastorally useful to do so, he could dismiss the assembly, kiss the altar, and then, standing in front of the altar or the tabernacle, lead the people in other prayers before returning to the sacristy.

Since these prayers do not form part of the liturgy, the faithful would not be strictly obliged to remain; however, if they are very brief, like the prayer to St. Michael, it could all form part of a single recessional movement.

If this moment is to be used for longer prayers and devotions, it is probably better to separate the two moments albeit briefly. Given that the faithful do not all share the same devotional sensibilities, priests should propose, but not impose, particular acts of devotion.

Thus, if a priest were to lead a parish novena or consecration after Mass, then during the moments of announcements before the final blessing it could be announced that, following the dismissal, those who wish may remain in the church to participate in the novena or act of consecration while the others may leave.

On some occasions, it may also be appropriate for the priest to remove the chasuble or change to other sacred vestments more suitable to the occasion -- for example, so as not to lead a festive devotion while wearing violet vestments.

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