Preparing for Mass: Taking A Cue from A Prayer for Priests

By Fr. Bryan Jerabek, J.C.L.

A little over five years have now passed since the new translation of the Roman Missal went into effect in the various English-speaking countries. In this wonderful new edition, if you turn to the latter part of Appendix VI, there are prayers that the priest is encouraged to say before and after Mass. And one of them – the “Formula of Intent” – is, I think, very important and worth sharing with you today. Here it is:

     My intention is to celebrate Mass and to consecrate the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Rite of Holy Roman Church, to the praise of almighty God and all the Church triumphant, for my good and that of all the Church militant, for all who have commended themselves to my prayers in general and in particular, and for the welfare of Holy Roman Church. Amen.

Should a lay person pray this prayer as-written? No. He or she does not share in Christ’s ministerial priesthood. However, by virtue of his or her baptism, a lay person does share in the priesthood of the faithful. That is to say, baptism qualifies every lay person to make a pleasing offering to God and to offer him fitting worship. Perhaps this prayer could be adapted, then? I think so.

Let’s give it a try. What if you were to come to church a good 10 minutes before Mass, and in the process of quietly recollecting yourself, recited devoutly something like the following prayer (adapted from the one above)?

     My intention is to participate in this Mass fully, actively, and consciously and to worship the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ made present on the altar by the priest according to the Rite of Holy Roman Church, to the praise of almighty God and all the Church triumphant, for my good and that of all the Church militant, for all who have commended themselves to my prayers in general and in particular, and for the welfare of Holy Roman Church. Amen.

Might such prayer change the way that you participate in Mass? I think it would. Saying this prayer each Sunday and Holy Day, and whatever other days you might be able to go to Mass, you would begin to see yourself as part of a larger scene, so to speak: as a soldier in the Church militant who has something to bring to the battle. You might more effectively remember to pray for the many intentions you accumulate throughout each week, by consciously offering them both generally and in particular. You may look upon your baptismal priesthood in a new way: you have something to offer to God as well!

It is so important that we make a fruitful preparation for Holy Mass. If the Eucharist is, as the Church teaches, the “source and summit” of our Christian life, then let us act as if that were the case! We have probably all seen Masses that were celebrated shabbily, by ministers who seemingly did not prepare themselves well for what they were about to do. Do we participate in Mass rather shabbily ourselves?

It surely is a struggle to stay recollected and to give it our all. But it’s easier when we have taken some time to prepare beforehand. The adapted “Formula of Intent” prayer above might help. Try it and see!

3 thoughts on “Preparing for Mass: Taking A Cue from A Prayer for Priests”

  1. Thank you, Fr Jerabek! I will do this. It ‘fleshes out’ a short one I have said for a while, “Heavenly Father, I offer this Mass in your Holy and Divine Will in union with all Masses in all time for the salvation of souls and forgiveness of sins.” Amen

  2. Fr Jerabek,
    Thank you! This sounds so simple yet is so profound. You are speaking of “right intention”, which is how we must set and reset our hearts toward God—-yes, especially before mass as we are to encounter Him in a Sacred place, a Sacred space and a Sacred time. He is here in His Mystery, occupying a time that exists beyond all boundaries. Jesus is yesterday, now and forever. He is always there. It is we who must enter and allow ourselves to see with our hearts He is here with us. Lord we believe! Help our unbelief!! Father Jerabek, thank you for being a priest!

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