Greetings and Introductions at the beginning of Mass


I’m concerned about some ‘Greetings’ and ‘Introductions’ to be said by a priest at the beginning of Mass, as well as - apparently - ‘special’ solemn blessings to be said by the priest at the end of the Mass.

We are doing an English-language Mass in a non-English-speaking European country. Our sacramentary and lectionary are from the US and approved by the USCCB. Our Prayers of the Faithful are (faithfully) translated from the prayers approved by the local bishop for use here.

Thing that’s worrying me is that one of our priests has decided that he ‘likes’ some ‘greetings’ and ‘introductions’ and ‘blessings’ from a Claretian website in China ( I don’t know if these are licit to use.

Can a knowledgable person look at that website and tell me

A. If the types of ‘greeting’ and ‘introduction’ and ‘blessing’ they use are licit at all?
Sometimes they are written in less than sensible English, and we have to re-write them. Is it allowed for us to change the wording when they are badly written? (The priest I work with is not a native-speaker of English, so he trusts my judgement in the revisions, and the whole thing is starting to make me nervous. He would never allow me to change the words in a litany, for example, that has an imprimatur, because my changes would require approval. But with these prayers, he allows changes.)

B. If it’s ever licit for the priest to read out an ‘introduction’ to the Mass (a sort of theme of the Mass in three or four sentences) at the beginning and a ‘conclusion’ (another ‘theme’ of the Mass) at the end of Mass? Usually these read like mini-homilies. I can’t find anything in the rubrics of the Mass that indicate, ‘Here the priest pauses and reads a mini-summary of the Mass.’ Some priests make these up on their own; some find them on websites. I have these introductions in my personal daily and Sunday missals, but I don’t see in the sacramentary a place for the priest to read them out.

C. If it’s licit to use materials from a Chinese website when we can’t see anything saying that it’s approved by a Chinese bishop’s conference.

D. If it’s licit to use ANYTHING in the liturgy that isn’t approved by one’s own bishop’s conference? In our case, the local ordinary has given authority over the Mass to the priest in charge of the English Mass, but so far, we’ve always used materials approved by the USCCB, apart from our own translation of Prayers of the Faithful from the local language (and those were approved by the Bishops’ conference of this country).

E. Is it licit to use alternative forms for the penitential rite apart from those in a sacramentary approved by a Bishops’ conference? I don’t know where the Chinese are getting their words for the Penitential rite that my priest is finding on the Chinese Claretian website.

I just don’t feel comfortable with all the extra ‘stuff’ that the priest has been adding to the beginning and the end of the Mass. He says he ‘likes’ it, which isn’t quite comforting to me. I need to know if it’s licit to add these ‘greetings’ and ‘introductions’ and the Chinese Claretian ‘blessing’ at the end for a solemn blessing. I also need to know if it’s licit to use forms of the Penitential rite that seem written particularly to suit the ‘theme’ of each Mass, rather than the ones in our Sacramentary. Every week this website comes up with different ‘greetings’ ‘introductions’ ‘blessings’ and forms for the penitential rite. They are very thematic and really pound home the ‘theme’ of the Mass. The priest ‘likes’ that. But are they licit for use in Europe? Or anywhere?

Please help!

I searched the website in vain for any publication information, for an imprimatur - anything that would tell me the prayers were approved by some bishops’ conference for use in the liturgy. Nothing.

So I wrote to the publisher of the website. Got this reply:

*These texts are for devotional use.

It is true that in many places that we know bishops and priests are using it themselves.
But the text is intended as devotional.

The publisher*

Now is it just me being suspicious, or does that translate something like this? ‘We have no right to publish these as legitimate prayers for use in the liturgy. On the other hand, the Mass is dead and we want to make it “come alive” [as their blurb about the author of the texts states] so we make it up ourselves. If anyone challenges us for doing this, we can say that our texts are for devotional purposes while still achieving our aim of revising the Mass to suit our idea of what the prayers of the Mass should be. And if you have any scruples about liturgical abuse, don’t worry because “bishops and priests are using them”.’

I’ve written back asking what it can mean to say that the prayers are intended for ‘devotional use’ when it’s very clear they are meant for a priest to use in a liturgical setting. I find that confusing, at least.

The Chinese Bishops’ Conference is not approved by any Pope and will remain so until the government steps out of it. Everyone in that conference who is catholic is excommuniated. So really, don’t rely on Chinese Catholic websites too much (Diocean websites are fine), unless it is of Hong Kong or Macau.


These Claretians are in Macau, so I guess that’s something…

But what really disturbs me is that within three minutes of writing to ask for the name of the bishop who gave an imprimatur for the prayers and/or a bishops’ conference that approved them for the liturgy, I got that answer: ‘for devotional use.’

But I’ve written back asking for an explanation of how prayers that are clearly the prayers of the Mass can be used for ‘devotional use’? What does that MEAN? Also, why does the author’s blurb say that his efforts are for the liturgy if the prayers are for ‘devotion’ - which presumably is not the same as the Mass?

Furthermore, should they not have some kind of explanation on their site that the prayers are only for devotion and not to be used in the liturgy? If they know that bishops and priests use illicit prayers - no imprimatur, no approval from a bishops’ conference, purely the invention of one individual priest - should they not make every effort to tell priests, bishops and website viewers that the prayers are not approved and must not be used in a liturgy?

No answer, so far, despite their very quick answer the first time. Perhaps they’ve since gone to bed in Macau.

I know I’m cynical, so I hope they have an explanation. But I suspect they are not honest.

Chapter II
11. It is also up to the priest in the exercise of his office of presiding over the assembly to pronounce the instructions and words of introduction and conclusion that are provided in the rites themselves. By their very nature **these introductions do not need to be expressed verbatim **in the form in which they are given in the Missal; at least in certain cases it will be advisable to adapt them somewhat to the concrete situation of the community.[20] It also belongs to the priest presiding to proclaim the word of God and to give the final blessing. He may give the faithful a very brief introduction to the Mass of the day (before the celebration begins), to the liturgy of the word (before the readings), and to the eucharistic prayer (before the preface); he may also make comments concluding the entire sacred service before the dismissal.

Thanks for that. I wasn’t so doubtful about the ‘introductions’ (though personally, commentaries ‘inside’ the Mass I find distracting) and ‘conclusions.’ It’s common in Poland and I’ve only once ever been to a Mass in Poland where a priest did something ‘outside the rubrics’ (thank God for faithful Polish priests!).

I think that we’ll still use the introductions and conclusions. They are good (though sometimes thoughtless language) and it’s easier for my priest than writing his own. (His predecessor wrote his own; his predecessor didn’t like them and didn’t use them.) But the ‘greetings’ and the ‘Penitential act’ (not rite?) and other things that are just made up for each week - I hope the priest will agree that if they are not approved, they shouldn’t be used.

Still no response to my request for clarification about how prayers that are meant to ‘bring the liturgy alive’ and are clearly variations on the prayers of the Mass are for ‘devotional use.’ Whatever can that MEAN?

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