March 3, 2011

Using the Prayer to St. Michael

Here's another one of my infamous little liturgical dilemmas.

The parish priest for whom I substitute for Mass on Thursday mornings--so that he can have an overnight caring for his elderly mother--is a very gentle man, and would never presume to tell me how to celebrate Mass. He's just grateful for the regular and reliable help, and I'm happy to do it.

However, I get the feeling that Father would like me to add the Prayer to St. Michael at the end of Mass. I know that he appends his daily Masses with the prayer. He leaves a laminated copy (in English and Spanish) prominently placed on the altar.

Nevertheless, I don't do it, and nobody else in the assembly starts it spontaneously either. For one thing, I don't like adding things to the Mass, as I feel that such things detract from the 'noble simplicity' of the Roman rite. (Not that I'm not guilty of a handful of tridentine accretions in my practice of the Ordinary Form; but I'm careful only to permit myself such things at moments when nothing else is provided in the current rubrics. I feel like I'm in the spirit of the "mutual enrichment" of the two forms of the Roman rite which the Holy Father called for in his cover letter to Summorum pontificum.)

Also, because I have a psychological tendency towards a certain rigorism--I'm 'precise,' as my mother would say--I would want to pray the whole of the Leonine Prayers if I'm going to add the Prayer to St. Michael. But, as is clear, the Leonine Prayers were suppressed in 1964 by the instruction Inter oecumenici.

So, what should I do?

Continue to not add the Prayer to St. Michael, as I have been doing? Add the prayer at the end of Mass, in support of my host, and for the sake of prayerful continuity for the people? Go all the way and lead the whole of the Leonine Prayers, telling myself that the spirit of the liturgical vision of Benedict XVI trumps the prescriptions of the famous consilium for implementing Sacrosanctum Concilium?

Anybody have any other qualifications for the question? Any other documents that I don't know about?

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio, contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute, in infernum detrude. Amen.


Michael said...

Mass is ended at Go in peace. I don't see how adding he prayer to St. Michael effects the Mass, it is a devotion done AFTER Mass. In many places the miraculous medal novena is done following Mass, that likewise does not effect the Mass. Praying to St. Michael can only be a good thing.

Jeffrey Pinyan said...

There's nothing preventing you from adding a prayer AFTER Mass, just like there's nothing preventing Fr. Marty at Princeton from preceding the daily noon Mass with the Angelus.

Brother Charles said...

Quite right, friends. You remind me that I'm not talking about a liturgical dilemma, but a question of para-liturgical practice. Nevertheless, I think the question of the suppression of the Leonine Prayers is applicable.

It's funny about the's always been dear to us Franciscans, especially in light of Francis's Letter to the Rulers, but for some reason it was stripped out of the common prayers of our formation communities.

Sara said...

At my parish there are two daily Masses, and three priests. No matter which priest is celebrating, at one Mass everybody says a bunch of prayers at the end, and at the other Mass they don't. I usually go to the Mass where they don't, so I don't know what all the prayers are.

I do know that there is pressure from the "regulars" at this one Mass, for everyone to participate in the prayers at the end. I have a friend who attends this other Mass and has been on the receiving end of some pressure.

Fr. Charles, if no one has started the prayer spontaneously and no one has approached you about it, maybe there are some folks at that Mass who are grateful for the silence once a week.

ben in denver said...

Technically,Inter Oecumenici only supressed the leonine prayers until the reform of the entire Ordo Missae, which happened in 1969, so this instruction is no longer in effect.

You should therefore go by more current liturgical law. You could either adhere strictly to the 2002 GIRM, which allows for an annoucement, like "Now please join me in a prayer to St. Michael."

Or you follow the lead of the Pope, who said that the "the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching" and include the whole of the leonine prayers.

I think it is clear that Inter Oecumenici is no longer in force, or at least it is clear that section 48 is no longer in force, because the reform of the entire missal has been completed.

BC said...

When I was in the world, I found priest-led devotional prayers after Mass very distracting. I would usually run for the door before they started, or try my hardest to ignore them.

For me at least, it would spring a huge internal conflict: should I join the community in these prayers? Am I being self-centered to refuse?

In general I think it is a good idea not make the faithful feel as if they have to pray prayers beyond the proscribed ones.

Judy Kallmeyer said...

In the fifties and sixties, when I was growing up, the Prayer to St. Michael was said at the end of every Mass. I have no idea what the Leonine prayers are--perhaps you could explain. Given the state of the world and of the Church, I would welcome the reinstitution of this prayer after Mass.

Anonymous said...

I remember some visiting priests that concluded the mass with the Hail Mary. Before the prayer they said it was a norm of their religious order to do so.I don't know what the order was, but recall they were from the Philippines.

ben in denver said...


The leonine prayers are a set of prayers that were appended to the end of low mass. They consist of 3 Hail Mary's, the Hail Holy Queen, a prayer for the liberty and exaltation of the Church, the St. Michael Prayer, and 3 prayers to the Sacred Heart to have mercy on us.

I'm sure that you said all of these in the fifties. They are called the leonine prayers because they were added by Pope Leo XIII in 1884. At that time it was important to pray for the liberty of the Church because the Vatican had been taken over by the Kingdom of Italy. With the Lateran Treaty between Italy and the Holy See in 1929 (which created the Vatican City State), the primary intention of the prayers was changed to the conversion of Russia. Given the serious persecution faced by the Church in China and other places today, I don't think that these prayers are outdated.

Lee Gilbert said...

Many people attending daily Mass, and I among them, are pressed for time. For example, if it takes 25-30 minutes, I can attend, but not if it is longer.

The Leonine prayers or any prayers after Mass may not be part of the Mass, but if they are led by a priest, I do not feel completely free to leave. He takes the place of Christ in the assembly. How can I walk out on Christ?

If they are led by the faithful, it is completely different.

My hope is that priests keep the liturgy spare- reverent, but spare.

Judy Kallmeyer said...

Thank you, Ben, for your explanation. Yes, I do remember saying the three Hail Mary's, the Hail, Holy Queen the Prayer to St. Michael. I appreciate your reminding me of them.

Marcella Carmen, England said...

I would like to hear that you have eventually decided to continue the parish priest's desire for his flock to say the St. Michael prayer, after Mass. In view of so many dangers invading the Church and its poor people today, why cavill? After Mass, surely any prayer is valid? You don't sound like one of those priests who likes to dash through Mass and get back to football or whatever else has more interest!

Lee Strong said...

At a parish I sometimes attend they add the prayer - after the Mass. It's started not by any of the priests - they're back in the sacristy - but by a couple of lay people. They also say a Hail Mary for an end to abortion.

Tom said...

About two years ago in my parish we started saying the St. Michael Prayer at the end of Mass. It is done at all Masses by our pastor and any visiting priests. It came about as a request from the evangelization committee to our pastor to pray it for intercession for abortionists and an end to abortion. Takes less than 30 seconds. In the beginning many people used the prayer card; now they know it by heart. So the practice taught them something new.

G.B. Sadler said...

I attend a Maronite rite church, St. Michael the Archangel -- originally started going to learn about their liturgy.

We say the Prayer to Saint Michael after the final benediction, and I've come to develop an appreciation for it, and suggest it to or pray it with friends and family outside of church as well on occasions that seem they might be times of danger. I'm pretty cure I would not have it handy if we didn't say it at my church.

I think he's quite popular here also because we get a lot of Ft. Bragg and retired military at our little church, and he's apparently the patron of the paratroopers.

I second the advice of those suggesting you let the congregation say it after mass has ended -- perhaps let the lector or deacon lead it (which is our practice)

Julie Marie said...

We need St Michael. Jesus and Mary and Michael himself have requested that he be put back in church. For those of you who can't afford the time to stay and want to "keep it short"...believe me, the day will come when you are in the full grip of Satan and will wish you had spent those few minutes here and there in prayer for his protection.

Anonymous said...

During his 24 April 1994 Regina Caeli H.H. Blessed Pope John Paul II asked everyone to recite once again 'the special prayer to St. Michael throughout the Church. "St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil"' to help us in our 'battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.'

Anonymous said...

One US Bishop recently added requirement for his Priests to add the prayer to St. Michael after each Mass, and some Priests across the country do this on their own. In my opinion the addition takes away from integrity of the Mass which itself is nothing less than perfect and full sacrifice of Jesus who is "far superior to the Angels" (Hebrews 1,4). Even some responses in this blog show that people have tendency to think that a Mass isn't fully efficacious without the extra prayer. Adding things to the Mass doe not make it more pious or more effective - rather it feeds the unwholesome side of people's piety. And it isn't the same as adding prayers to the Rosary or any other devotions outside of Mass, where practically sky is the limit.

To enhance Eucharistic piety at the Mass I would require silence before and silence after the Mass as the GIRM rubrics demand, and that is the major problem in almost every Parish.

Anonymous said...


(...) The sacred Council establishes the following general norms:

22. 1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the

Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.

2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs

also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.

3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.

(Added on Jan. 3, 2013)