Opening prayer of vatican2


Is the opening prayer of Vatican 2 considered a liturgical prayer? I really like this prayer as it is invoking of the Holy Spirit. You can’t change liturgical prayers but you can get ideas from them.



No, it’s not considered a liturgical prayer. That’s not to say anything against it, but merely that “no” is the direct answer to your question.

One criteria for determining whether something is “liturgy” or not is to ask “is it necessary in the life of the Church?” The Mass is liturgy. The Sacraments are liturgy. Even the consecration of a new church is liturgy. It need not be necessary for every person—not everyone gets married or ordained—but these are still necessary to the Church.

On the other hand, the opening prayer of the Council is optional. It comes under the category of “popular piety” instead.
See #11


I had always thought the Book of Blessings was liturgical prayer, but I’m hard-pressed to imagine that a Blessing of Technical Installations or Equipment is really necessary for the life of the Church.


I tried to find a better definition, or a more clear explanation of what constitutes the difference between liturgy and non-liturgy.

I agree that a blessing of something technical is not really necessary. I suppose the idea might be that it’s necessary to have such blessings in the Church’s “toolbox.”

Necessity can be one of the criteria, but I don’t think we can take that too far (as you’ve just illustrated).

I’ll quote the section from #11 at the end of my post here.

I’ve always understood the distinction between liturgical and other was that when it comes to liturgy, the Church has an official rite which is obligatory. That would make Baptism liturgy but Stations of the Cross non-liturgy, since the later is flexible. Even that would have exceptions in both directions. :shrug:

I think this sort of thing is difficult to actually define.

In the Catechism, chapter 4, article 1, sacramentals are placed under the heading of “Other liturgical celebrations.” But then again, so are forms of popular piety.

So where do they belong? Is popular piety liturgy? I could imagine it might be (I can think of a few examples that I would personally think would be called “liturgical.”)

Without hesitation, I would call the prayer from Vatican II non-liturgy. At the same time though, I cannot find, nor can I think of my own, a way to actually define the distinction.

Even a quick check of the Catechism doesn’t yield any clear definition.

I just don’t know how I would define the difference.

I much prefer the Eastern vocabulary. ‘Liturgy is the Divine Liturgy.’ Period. Clear and precise. Alas, in Western vocabulary, it’s not that easy.

Here’s the section from the Directory:

The faithful should be made conscious of the preeminence of the Liturgy over any other possible form of legitimate Christian prayer. While sacramental actions are necessary to life in Christ, the various forms of popular piety are properly optional. Such is clearly proven by the Church’s precept which obliges attendance at Sunday Mass. No such obligation, however, has obtained with regard to pious exercises, notwithstanding their worthiness or their widespread diffusion. Such, however, may be assumed as obligations by a community or by individual members of the faithful.


[quote="FrDavid96]I much prefer the Eastern vocabulary. ‘Liturgy is the Divine Liturgy.’ Period. Clear and precise. Alas, in Western vocabulary, it’s not that easy.

So in the East, Liturgy of the Hours and various other prayer services are not considered liturgy? And the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, is that just an odd variant of the Divine Liturgy where the exception proves the rule?

I always thought of liturgy, being the public prayer of the Church, as something that at least in the modern West was necessarily prescribed in books approved by the Church. As celebrant, you may be able to vary the liturgy by ad libbing here and there, but these are in carefully defined parts of the mass.

For a non-liturgical prayer, perhaps the Vatican has published a book prescribing how to pray e.g. the Rosary, but if so I think it is understood that it’s optional, not required - which kind of gets back to your definition from a different angle. If one is conservative and chooses to only use 3 sets of mysteries, or decides to include the Luminous Mysteries that John Paul added, or gets creative and makes it 5 different sets of mysteries, there is not a prescribed way that it must be done, it’s just a popular tradition rather than a fully and finally vetted and promulgated prayer of the Church.

Rereading your last post, I see that in the middle you basically said the same thing, but I missed it.:banghead:


Just a different vocabulary. Liturgy means strictly (what the West calls) “the Mass.” The pre-sanctified is the exception; but only partly an exception because it’s still Eucharist.

I wasn’t trying to start a sub-discussion (pronounced “derail the thread” ;)) I hesitated on that because mentioning the East derails the thread about 99 3/4 % of the time, by my calculation. I just meant that it’s a difficult word to define in Western Catholic use. I tried to find a clear definition, but could not. One would think that either the Catechism or the Directory on Popular Piety would have a clear definition, but I couldn’t even reconcile the two documents uses of the words.

The OP’s question was about the opening prayer of Vatican II. That makes it an easy one to answer because it falls at the end of the spectrum; the Mass being at the other end. The opening prayer would certainly be “popular piety” when it’s prayed today.

I was trying to avoid a simple “no” response to the OP. Sometimes a little explanation helps. Other times, it just makes us go off on a tangent.


I would narrow your statement to say that you can’t change liturgical prayers in the liturgy. There is nothing wrong with modifying a liturgical prayer for your own personal use, if say you want to pray a shortened version of the Confiteor at home, or you like the Lamb of God tropes that used to be used at some parishes.

Further information on the prayer, from the Diocese of Sandhurst:

Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus, the first word of the Latin original meaning, “Here we are,” which has been historically used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, being attributed to St. Isadore of Seville (c. 560-4 April 636).

Here we are O Lord, Holy Spirit, we stand before you, hampered by our faults, but for a special purpose gathered together in your name. Come to us and be with us and enter our hearts.

Teach us what we are to do and where we ought to tend; show us what we must accomplish, so that, with your help, we may be able to please you in all things.

May you alone be the beginning and catalyst of our judgments, who alone with God the Father and his Son possess a glorious name.

Do not allow us to disturb the order of justice, you who love equity above all things. Let not ignorance draw us to what is wrong. Let not partiality sway our minds or respect of riches or persons pervert our judgment.

But unite us to you effectually by the gift of your grace alone, that we may be one in you and never forsake the truth. Inasumuch as we are gathered together in your name, so may we in all things hold fast to justice tempered by mercy, so that in this life our judgment may in no way be at variance with you, and in the life to come we may receive an everlasting reward for deeds well done. Amen.


I see. I seem to have a slightly different version. But I have read the one your posted.


Why is this from the book of blessings but it’s not really the original prayer? Is the “Book of Blessings” whatever that is liturgical? Does anyone know what the difference here is or why the change?



The two different translations are both pretty close to each other. Neither one is the original prayer, as the original was in Latin.

My understanding was that the blessings in the Book of Blessings are officially prescribed prayers to be used in public ceremonies by the priest or whoever is doing the blessings. That makes them the public prayer of the Church, which is a widely accepted definition of liturgy.

When I first posted to this thread, I didn’t realize that the opening prayer was apparently used at the start of every ecumenical council, nor that it was in the Book of Blessings. Those two things make it seem possibly liturgical to me, but in the absence of other sources supporting that idea, I’ll defer to FrDavid96.


When it’s prayed by the bishops at an actual opening of an ecumenical council, maybe it is considered liturgy… Rarity isn’t necessarily a criteria. We rarely install new popes, but those ceremonies are liturgy.

When it’s prayed by an individual person, or for that matter, any time that it’s not the opening of a council, it would be popular piety.

Like Digitonomy mentioned earlier, the Lamb of God is liturgy when it’s part of the Mass, but it can also be prayed as a form of private devotion.


Ok. So simply being in the “Book of Blessings” doesn’t count then…



Without hesitation, I’d say no. There’s plenty in the Book of Blessings that would not be liturgy. Grace before a meal would not be liturgy (instead, popular piety), and that’s in the BB. There’s plenty of other examples of popular piety in the BB. So, we can cross that one off the list. :wink:

I still cannot find a definitive criteria that the Church uses to distinguish between liturgy and popular piety. There are plenty of examples, but no outright definitions. The Catechism is even more ambiguous.

Maybe it’s in that Directory on Popular Piety (I posted the link earlier), but I cannot find it.

closed #14

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