During the concentration I find myself praying the words silently along with the priest. I believe this may be sacrilege (since I am not a priest) but I seem to be compelled. Is this from Satan? How can I avoid this?
The Eucharistic Prayer is the Church’s prayer. If you’re praying silently that’s fine.
I doubt that it would be a sacrilege. (But it is slightly annoying when the elderly ladies at church do it audibly! ;))
If you want to avoid it, perhaps at that moment you could visualize yourself as one of the apostles at the Last Supper, and that Jesus is speaking the words to you.
Only the priest may pray the words of consecration, it is improper for the participants of the Mass to pray it with him. They do not work in the Person of Christ. The priest dose.
Instead of simply silently praying the words the priest does, or thinking of them, I would recommend that you offer your own prayer in unison with that of the priest. When the priest prays the words of consecration, without taking your focus off the Eucharist being confected, offer a prayer to God that He would accept your body and your blood – your very life – in union with His Son’s. Here is what Bishop Fulton J. Sheen recommends in his 1936 work Calvary and the Mass. (Sorry for the all-caps… that’s how it’s formatted):
I GIVE MYSELF TO GOD. HERE IS MY BODY. TAKE IT. HERE IS MY BLOOD.
TAKE IT. HERE IS MY SOUL, MY WILL, MY ENERGY, MY STRENGTH, MY
PROPERTY, MY WEALTH-ALL THAT I HAVE. IT IS YOURS. TAKE IT!
CONSECRATE IT! OFFER IT! OFFER IT WITH THYSELF TO THE HEAVENLY
FATHER IN ORDER THAT HE, LOOKING DOWN ON THIS GREAT SACRIFICE, MAY
SEE ONLY THEE, HIS BELOVED SON, IN WHOM HE IS WELL PLEASED.
TRANSMUTE THE POOR BREAD OF MY LIFE INTO THY DIVINE LIFE; THRILL
THE WINE OF MY WASTED LIFE INTO THY DIVINE SPIRIT; UNITE MY BROKEN
HEART WITH THY HEART; CHANGE MY CROSS INTO A CRUCIFIX. LET NOT MY
ABANDONMENT AND MY SORROW AND MY BEREAVEMENT GO TO WASTE. GATHER
UP THE FRAGMENTS, AND AS THE DROP OF WATER IS ABSORBED BY THE WINE
AT THE OFFERTORY OF THE MASS, LET MY LIFE BE ABSORBED IN THINK;
LET MY LITTLE CROSS BE ENTWINED WITH THY GREAT CROSS SO THAT I MAY
PURCHASE THE JOYS OF EVERLASTING HAPPINESS IN UNION WITH THEE.
"CONSECRATE THESE TRIALS OF MY LIFE WHICH WOULD GO UNREWARDED
UNLESS UNITED WITH THEE; TRANSUBSTANTIATE ME SO THAT LIKE BREAD
WHICH IS NOW THY BODY, AND WINE WHICH IS NOW THY BLOOD, I TOO
MAY BE WHOLLY THINE. I CARE NOT IF THE SPECIES REMAIN, OR THAT,
LIKE THE BREAD AND THE WINE I SEEM TO ALL EARTHLY EYES THE SAME
AS BEFORE. MY STATION IN LIFE, MY ROUTINE DUTIES, MY WORK, MY
FAMILY-ALL THESE ARE BUT THE SPECIES OF MY LIFE WHICH MAY REMAIN
UNCHANGED; BUT THE SUBSTANCE OF MY LIFE, MY SOUL, MY MIND, MY
WILL, MY HEART – TRANSUBSTANTIATE THEM, TRANSFORM THEM WHOLLY INTO
THY SERVICE, SO THAT THROUGH ME ALL MAY KNOW HOW SWEET IS THE LOVE
OF CHRIST. AMEN.
Thanks for sharing this, japhy! I had read it many years ago but lost track of it. I’m going to start praying it again.
Bishop Sheen’s Calvary and the Mass is one of the resources I’m using for my second book (Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the Priest). The idea of personally entering into the Eucharistic Prayer – without losing sight of the mystery of transubstantiation and the Eucharist – is something that stops us from being mere spectators to the priestly action, and allows us to participate in our capacity as the baptismal priesthood.
If we are not supposed to listen to the words of consecration (and praying them silently is really no different-- they form an idea in your mind either way), why does the Church ask the priest in the N.O. to speak them in an audible voice?
In short, yes, it is improper to pray the words of consecration (and the rest of the Eucharistic prayer) with the priest, particularly if your intention is something of a co-offer-er.
Found in GIRM 78, Redemptionis Sacramentum 52, Canon Law 907, Ecclesiae de Mysterio Article 6§2 (among other sources), it reiterates the prayers are to be said by the priest alone.
I do hear some folks mumbling it sometimes at Mass. That doesn’t bother me so much as hearing someone do that AND seeing them gesture with their hands as if they’re co-consecrating!
With that said, I don’t believe you are doing it out of disrespect for the dignity of the priest, but just know that you have your way of participating, the priest has his.
(Jeff, I like those prayers from Bishop Sheen!)
I didn’t read the original question as saying that the person was praying aloud the prayer. Of course that is wrong. Of course the priest is the only one who says (vocalizes) the prayer. The original post said “praying along silently.”
The point is, it is the Church’s prayer, not a private prayer of the priest. We are all joined with him (and Christ) in praying this prayer. We should not be distracted by other prayers or personal thoughts, we should be completely uniting ourselves in this most wonderful prayer of the Church. The Eucharistic prayer is not time for private prayer, there are other times in the Mass that provide for that.
I feel confused at the answers given. I think this is a good question and I appreciate both the question and the answers, but there is some conflict in the answers. So could someone clarify?
Is it okay for us to have our own prayers and possibly to distract ourselves when the priest is doing the prayers?
Is it okay to repeat the prayer of the priest in silence to maul over them or to even say in one’s heart Amen?
What is one have visualizations of the Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine floating around while the priest is praying, is this normal? If not, is this sacrilegious?
My bad…it does say, “silently.” :o I don’t think thinking it while the priest says it is wrong…it’s only natural if you’ve been to Mass even a few times.
- Is it okay for us to have our own prayers and possibly to distract ourselves when the priest is doing the prayers?
No. The priest’s prayers that are aloud are the prayers of ALL of the gathered assembly. We should not distract ourselves from the Eucharistic liturgy. As the Church teaches, the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” All prayer is good, but other prayers are for other times.
- Is it okay to repeat the prayer of the priest in silence to maul over them or to even say in one’s heart Amen?
Yes! Absolutely! We should be paying attention to words of these prayers. Particularly the Eucharistic prayer. We are praying them along with the pirest, even though he is the only one to vocalize them. It is the Church’s prayer, not a private prayer of the priest.
- What is one have visualizations of the Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine floating around while the priest is praying, is this normal? If not, is this sacrilegious?
Whether it’s normal, who knows, you’d have to ask every individual. Not sacrilegious.
Some further thoughts:
Now it is clear that the faithful offer the sacrifice by the hands of the priest from the fact that the minister at the altar, in offering a sacrifice in the name of all His members, represents Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body. Hence the whole Church can rightly be said to offer up the victim through Christ. But the conclusion that the people offer the sacrifice with the priest himself is not based on the fact that, being members of the Church no less than the priest himself, they perform a visible liturgical rite; for this is the privilege only of the minister who has been divinely appointed to this office: rather it is based on the fact that the people unite their hearts in praise, impetration, expiation and thanksgiving with prayers or intention of the priest, even of the High Priest himself, so that in the one and same offering of the victim and according to a visible sacerdotal rite, they may be presented to God the Father. … (Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei 93)
In other words, the congregation offers the sacrifice with and through the priest not because (as some might falsely assert) we perform some liturgical action: that is the duty and office of the ministerial priest alone.
Therefore, they are to be praised who, with the idea of getting the Christian people to take part more easily and more fruitfully in the Mass, strive to make them familiar with the “Roman Missal,” so that the faithful, united with the priest, may pray together in the very words and sentiments of the Church. They also are to be commended who strive to make the liturgy even in an external way a sacred act in which all who are present may share. This can be done in more than one way, when, for instance, the whole congregation, in accordance with the rules of the liturgy, either answer the priest in an orderly and fitting manner, or sing hymns suitable to the different parts of the Mass, or do both, or finally in high Masses when they answer the prayers of the minister of Jesus Christ and also sing the liturgical chant. (Ibid. 105)
He does not mean that the faithful pray the prayers of the priest like they were also (ministerial) priests, but rather that they are able to follow the prayers (which were being said in Latin, audibly or inaudibly) in their own language. And this, of course, not so that they can just follow the priest’s words, but can join themselves to those words and to the “sentiments of the Church”, like Bishop Sheen suggested.
And as the Church further taught authoritatively, building on and following Pius XII:
- The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God’s word and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator , they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all.
Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 48
Lots of words! Please, I am just a simple man. Now I am more confused than ever! Is it a sin for me to pray along with the priest silently in my mind without mouthing or speaking the words. Please a yes or no answer is all I am asking for.
No, it is not a sin. But please do more than just think of the words of the priest. Think of the sacred mysteries being celebrated. Join yourself to Christ, join your sacrifice to Christ’s.
Not a sin
No, not a sin to follow along silently. Remember that you are praying as part of the faithful, and the priest only as ministerial priest.
Thank you all very much.