Seeking resource for required gestures and prayers during Mass

I am trying to find source material listing all of the required gestures and prayers during Mass. I have checked the GIRM, but I don’t see what I’m looking for in there.

Here is an example: Before the Gospel Reading, I was taught that we make the Sign of the Cross with our thumb over our forehead, mouth and heart while silently saying something to the effect of asking for help receiving the Gospel into our minds, our lips and our heart. Everyone seems to know this is required, but I can’t find the documents stating it is required.

Why I am asking: During the liturgy of the Eucharist, when the priest says, “This is My Body,” and, “This is My Blood,” my mother will lightly strike her chest twice (beat her breast), and I think she is saying “mea culpa.” I don’t know if this was something that was required pre-Vatican II but would like to find out.

Also, when people enter Mass and kneel to pray before the Procession begins, I know that they are, to a large extent, making personal prayers, but I am wondering if there are one or two specific Catholic prayers that we are supposed to be saying during that time, like the Act of Contrition? And these two things make me wonder what else I might not be aware of, actions that are not specifically mentioned in the Missal but are either required or suggested.

Also, as to the mention of the possible pre-Vatican II gesture, while I wholeheartedly believe in the validity of Vatican II, I also admire the beauty of the pre-Vatican II liturgy. So, if there are gestures and prayers that were required then but are no longer required now, yet which are not prohibited, I would be interested in adding them for myself in Mass.

So as I said above, can anyone point me to any documents that discuss these type of requirements, both pre- and post-Vatican II?

Thanks!

I’m not sure if this is what you are looking for - but there may be additional information available in the other articles on this website that may help you find what you are looking for.

adoremus.org/0210MassGesturesPostures.html

While this is not an official document of the Church, Adoremus, the online magazine, presented a very helpful article a few months ago:

adoremus.org/0210MassGesturesPostures.html

I hope this resource helps you.

Here is a recently published guide for visitors to the Tridentine Mass. I’m not sure if this is quite what you had in mind, though.

angeluspress.org/oscatalog/item/8266/for-the-visitor-at-mass

GIRM 134 & 175.

That is (to the best of my knowledge) simply a personal pious devotion. It is a gesture common to the liturgy (used during the Confiteor) and common to all the faithful (that is, it is not a gesture reserved to the priest).

There are certain traditional prayers which can be said before and after Mass. One is a “Prayer of St. Ambrose”, another is a “Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas”, yet another is a “Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary”. There are also prayers like the Act of Faith, the Our Father, the Hail Mary.

Really, any prayer which prepares you for Mass is a worthwhile prayer to pray before Mass!

The priest who gave me private instruction told me to strike my breast three times, and initially I would say three prayers (he didn’t tell me what to say) in my head like “for my family, for my friends, for me” kind of. But then my (now) husband told me that you’re supposed to say “My Lord and My God” 3 times, like Doubting Thomas did. His family does a lot of gestures that are common from “pre-Vatican II” and the change in the Liturgy. I don’t think they’re necessary but I find it to be a great personal devotion. :slight_smile:

The list at Adoremus has a few private additions, probably retained from the customs of the 1962 Missal, which are not strictly prescribed in the Ordinary Form; some of them, in fact, were specifically omitted.

“Bow when the crucifix, a visible symbol of Christ’s sacrifice, passes you in the procession. (If there is a bishop, bow when he passes, as a sign of recognition that he represents the authority of the Church and of Christ as shepherd of the flock.)” [This might be present in the Ceremonial of Bishops, but it is otherwise not prescribed.]

“Bow and make the sign of the cross when the priest says “May Almighty God have mercy…”” [This is done in the Extraordinary Form at a *different prayer; the prayer and the gesture have been omitted in the Ordinary Form.]

“Bow your head when you say “Lord, have mercy” during the Kyrie.” [Never heard of this one]

“Make the sign of the Cross at the conclusion of the Creed at the words “I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”” [This gesture has been omitted in the Ordinary Form.]

“At the moment of the Consecration of each element, bow the head and say silently “My Lord and my God”, acknowledging the Presence of Christ on the altar.” [Pious suggestion, not prescribed. I say “My Lord and my God” silently at the elevation of the Host, and “I adore you, O Christ…” silently at the elevation of the Chalice.]

“Reverently fold your hands and bow your head as you pray the Lord’s Prayer.” [While the general posture of the faithful is to have our hands folded in prayer, there is no prescription to bow the head during this prayer.]

“In reciting (or singing) the Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God…”), strike the breast at the words “Have mercy upon us”.” [This gesture has been omitted in the Ordinary Form, although it seems reasonable to do it as a personal pious devotion.]

“Bow your head and strike your breast as you say, Domine non sum dignus… (Lord, I am not worthy…)” [This gesture has been omitted in the Ordinary Form, although it seems reasonable to do it as a personal pious devotion.]

“Make a gesture of reverence as you approach the priest in procession to receive Communion.” [The US GIRM specifies that a bow of the head is the appropriate sign of reverence to make, although it is common for people to bow profoundly or even genuflect.]

“Make the sign of the cross after you have received Communion.” [Not prescribed.]

“Make the sign of the cross at the final blessing, as the priest invokes the Trinity.” [Someone recently pointed out to me that there is no instruction for the faithful to make the Sign of the Cross here… but I am of the opinion that this practice is customary in both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms of the Mass. It is practically instinctual to make the Sign of the Cross over yourself when the priest makes the Sign of the Cross over you.]

I point these out not to cast aspersions on the Adoremus Bulletin. I just don’t want people getting the wrong impression that every gesture mentioned in that listing is mandated in the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

prayer; the prayer and the gesture have been omitted in the Ordinary Form.]

“Bow your head when you say “Lord, have mercy” during the Kyrie.” [Never heard of this one]

“Make the sign of the Cross at the conclusion of the Creed at the words “I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”” [This gesture has been omitted in the Ordinary Form.]

“At the moment of the Consecration of each element, bow the head and say silently “My Lord and my God”, acknowledging the Presence of Christ on the altar.” [Pious suggestion, not prescribed. I say “My Lord and my God” silently at the elevation of the Host, and “I adore you, O Christ…” silently at the elevation of the Chalice.]

“Reverently fold your hands and bow your head as you pray the Lord’s Prayer.” [While the general posture of the faithful is to have our hands folded in prayer, there is no prescription to bow the head during this prayer.]

“In reciting (or singing) the Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God…”), strike the breast at the words “Have mercy upon us”.” [This gesture has been omitted in the Ordinary Form, although it seems reasonable to do it as a personal pious devotion.]

“Bow your head and strike your breast as you say, Domine non sum dignus… (Lord, I am not worthy…)” [This gesture has been omitted in the Ordinary Form, although it seems reasonable to do it as a personal pious devotion.]

“Make a gesture of reverence as you approach the priest in procession to receive Communion.” [The US GIRM specifies that a bow of the head is the appropriate sign of reverence to make, although it is common for people to bow profoundly or even genuflect.]

“Make the sign of the cross after you have received Communion.” [Not prescribed.]

“Make the sign of the cross at the final blessing, as the priest invokes the Trinity.” [Someone recently pointed out to me that there is no instruction for the faithful to make the Sign of the Cross here… but I am of the opinion that this practice is customary in both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms of the Mass. It is practically instinctual to make the Sign of the Cross over yourself when the priest makes the Sign of the Cross over you.]

I point these out not to cast aspersions on the Adoremus Bulletin. I just don’t want people getting the wrong impression that every gesture mentioned in that listing is mandated in the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

I suppose you did not see my disclaimer:

While this is not an official document of the Church, Adoremus, the online magazine, presented a very helpful article a few months ago:

The Adoremus article is somewhat helpful in that at least it gives some good suggestions, as opposed to seeing folks who insist on raising their hands every time the priest says “Dominus vobiscum.”

Your disclaimer says the page isn’t an official document, but that could be interpreted in a number of ways (e.g., it’s incomplete, it’s a paraphrase). I simply wanted to make clear that some of the things mentioned in the document go beyond what is official.

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