Rorate Caeli

FIUV PP: Prayers for the Persecuted

Today I can publish the FIUV's latest Position Paper, on Prayers for Persecuted Christians, and the Leonine Prayers. The purpose of the paper is to place the Leonine Prayers in a wider historical context, and, from this vantage point, to appeal for prayers, and particularly for Masses, for persecuted Christians around the world.

Catholics attached to the Church's ancient liturgy will particularly want to see, where possible, public Votive Masses celebrated for this intention, and other Masses with the appropriate Commemorations. There are several Votive Masses which could be used, in the 1962 (and earlier) Missals, which do not exist in the reformed Missal, notably the Votive Mass 'In Defence of the Church' (Exsurge, quare obdormis) and the Commemoration 'For Holy Church against Persecutors' (Collect: Ecclesiae tuae, quaesumus).

To promote the regular celebration of these Masses, and to ensure that they do not lose momentum as other issues replace the current Middle East conflict in the media, the FIUV will be sponsoring Votive Masses in key cities around the world. We would like to hear from others who are celebrating such Masses, and will post updates on our progress in spreading this campaign of prayer.

Prayers After Low Mass in the chapel of Wardour Castle, opened in 1776, one of the very first Catholic
public places of worship built in England as the persecution of the Church began to recede in England.
I have put some more commentary on the Leonine Prayers on my my personal blog here.

There will now be a pause in the publication of these papers, although a paper on Africa is in preparation and will probably be the next to be published.

This paper can be downloaded as a pdf here; the whole series can be seen herethe series (not including this one) are published in hard copy: click on the button.Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Information about Masses being said for this intention can be posted and read on the FIUV blog here.


FIUV Position Paper 24: Prayers for the Persecuted Church, & the Leoninie Prayers

 This Position Paper responds to the heartfelt appeal of Pope Francis:

We are witnessing a phenomenon of terrorism of previously unimaginable dimensions. So many of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have had to leave their homes, even in a brutal manner. It seems that awareness of the value of human life has been lost. It seems that the person does not count and can be sacrificed for other interests. And all this, unfortunately, with the indifference of so many.

     This unjust situation also requires, in addition to our constant prayer, an appropriate response on the part of the International Community. I am certain that, with the Lord's help, today's encounter will result in valid reflections and suggestions in order to help our brothers and sisters who are suffering and in order to face even the tragedy of reduced Christian presence in the land where Christianity was born and from which it spread.[1]

The current persecution of Christians, which has been likened to a ‘Global War on Christians’,[2] is of particular gravity in the Middle East, but is also acute in parts of Africa and South East Asia.

As well as private prayer,[3] Catholics attached to the Extraordinary Form will naturally wish to make use of public and liturgical prayer, the most perfect form of prayer ceaselessly offered to God by the whole Church. There are a number of options here, in relation to the Extraordinary Form, which need not be mutually exclusive.[4]

Precedents for the Leonine Prayers

An noteworthy phenomenon of the Medieval liturgy was the ‘Holy Land Clamor’ (‘cry’) for the liberation of the Holy Land, versions of which were initiated by local initiatives and by Papal mandate, following the Battle of Hattin in 1187 and continuing for three centuries.[5] It took place immediately after the Pax Domini and before the Pater Noster, or else after the Agnus Dei; a version could also be said in the Office. It was composed of the psalm Deus venerunt gentes, with versicles and a collect. It was omitted on Feast Days. During the Middle Ages clamors existed for a number of intentions.

A longstanding precedent for adding prayers to the end of Mass are the Prayers for the Sovereign, Domine savlum fac, which continue to be said in certain countries after Mass.[6]

The History and Intentions of the Leonine Prayers

The Prayers After Low Mass (Orationes post Missam) or ‘Leonine Prayers’[7] were first instituted by Pope Pius IX in 1859, for use in the Papal States. In their original form they focused on the petition (of the Collect) ‘for the liberty and exaltation of Holy Mother Church’ (‘pro libertate et exaltatione sanctæ Matris Ecclesiæ’), the intention being the preservation of the Papal States, whose remaining territories were in fact seized by the Kingdom of Italy in 1870.

Pope Leo XIII made the prayers universal in 1884, and in 1886 he added the phrase ‘for the conversion of sinners’ (‘pro conversione peccatorum’) to the Collect, also adding the Prayer to St Michael. (A threefold invocation of the Sacred Heart was added by Pope St Pius X in 1904.)[8]

In this way Pope Leo widened the intention of the prayers, but the sense of necessary defence, for the Church and for her members, remained, and Pope Leo directed the prayers be said for the resolution of the problem created by the loss of the Temporal Power. Following the creation of the Vatican City State in 1929, Pope Pius XI ordered that they henceforth be said ‘to permit the tranquillity and freedom to profess the faith to be restored to the afflicted people of Russia’,[9] an intention with continuing relevance.[10]

When mandating them for universal use, Pope Leo reiterated that the prayers could be said in the vernacular. However, the task of translation was left to local ordinaries, with the result that small variations exist between, for example, different English and German versions used in different places.

In the rules in force in 1962, the Leonine Prayers may be omitted on certain occasions.[11] They were abolished in 1964 by the Instruction Inter Oecumenici 14.

Pope St John Paul II commented on the Prayer to St Michael as follows:
May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle that the Letter to the Ephesians speaks of: ‘Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might’ (Ephesians 6:10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St Michael the Archangel (cf. Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had this picture in mind when, at the end of the last century, he brought in, throughout the Church, a special prayer to St Michael: “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil...” Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world. [12]

On 24th January 2012, Bishop Daniel Jenky, of Peoria in the United States of America, ordered that the Prayer to St Michael be said in the General Intercessions (Prayers of the Faithful, or Bidding Prayers) at Sunday Mass in his diocese, ‘for the freedom of the Catholic Church in America’, in the context of the problem created by the Affordable Care Act (2010).[13]

The Leonine Prayers are clearly not part of the Mass, and have never been included in the Missal. Nevertheless, they are said by the celebrant, vested, before leaving the sanctuary,[14] and are intimately bound up with the liturgy and the Faithful’s liturgical experience of Low Mass. The Collect and the Prayer to St Michael are both fine examples of prayer composition, and are much loved by Catholics attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

In practice the Leonine Prayers form a thanksgiving after Mass, and help to form an important habit of immediate thanksgiving for Mass and, when applicable, the reception of Holy Communion, in the Faithful.

Masses for Particular Intentions

A Mass itself can, of course, be said for an intention such as persecuted Christians; furthermore, the Missal includes Votive Masses and Commemorations[15] for this intention.

Under the rules in force in 1962, Votive Masses can in general only be said on ferias and on 4th Class Feasts;[16] Commemorations can in general only be used at Low Mass.[17] However, the Holy See and local Ordinaries can and historically have encouraged specific Votive Masses and Commemorations to be said by granting wider permission for, or mandating, their use. The best known example of favoured Votive Masses are those for the Sacred Heart on First Fridays;[18] Commemorations for the Propagation of the Faith, the Bishop, and the Pope, also have a privileged status, allowing them to be used more often.[19] Ordinaries have the authority to institute ‘Oratio imperata’, Commemorations which must be added to Masses for a period of time under specified rules.[20] The 1960 rules on Commemorations are more restrictive than the rules they replaced.[21]

In addition to Masses, public processions are another very long-standing form of public prayer for a particular intention. In England and Wales processions are authorised ‘In time of war against enemies of Holy Church’, with special prayers at their conclusion (see Appendix C).[22]

Conclusion and Practical Proposals

The Leonine Prayers, which call for the ‘liberty and exaltation’ of the Church, remind us of the need to implore the assistance of heaven for the Church, which continues to be persecuted today just as she was in the days of Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII, even as the geographical focus of these and their predecessor prayers has shifted from the Holy Land, to Rome, and to Russia, as world events have unfolded.

Furthermore, priests and Faithful can say and attend Masses offered for the intention of the persecuted, especially, where possible, using appropriate votive Masses and commemorations, and the Foederatio Intenationalis Una Voce urges all Catholics to take advantage of these opportunities. As noted above, the use of these could also be facilitated by mandate of the Holy See or local Ordinary.

Appendix A: the Prayers After Low Mass

V: Ave Maria, grátia plena, Dóminus tecum; benedícta tu in muliéribus, et benedíctus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
R: Sancta María, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatóribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen. (ter)

Salve Regína, Mater misericórdiæ; vita, dulcédo et spes nostra, salve. Ad te clamámus, éxsules fílii Evæ. Ad te suspirámus,  geméntes  et  flentes  in  hac lacrimarum valle. Eia ergo, advocáta nostra, illos tuos misericórdes óculos ad nos convérte. Et Iesum, benedíctum fructum ventris tui, nobis, post hoc exsílium, osténde. O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo María.

V: Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Génetrix.
R: Ut digni efficiámur promissiónibus Christi.

V: Orémus
Deus, refúgium nostrum et virtus, pópulum ad te clamántem propítius réspice; et intercedénte gloriósa et immaculáta Virgine Dei Genetríce María, cum beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso, ac beátis Apóstolis tuis Petro et Paulo, et ómnibus Sanctis, quas pro conversióne peccatórum, pro libertáte et exaltatióne sanctæ Matris Ecclésiæ, preces effúndimus, miséricors et benígnus exáudi. Per eúndem Christum Dóminum nostrum.
R: Amen.
V: Sancte Míchaële Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, contra nequítiam et insídias diáboli esto præsídium. Imperet illi Deus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, princeps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in mundo, divína virtúte in inférnum detrúde.
R: Amen.
V: Cor Iesu sacratíssimum,
R: Miserére nobis. (ter)

Appendix B: Allocution of Pope Pius XI on the Leonine Prayers

Extract from Pope Pius XI Allocation, 30th June 1930.[23]

Venerable Brethren, you certainly remember that when, because religion is in turmoil in the Russian regions, we prescribed a day sacred to the Patriarch [St] Joseph, with us giving the lead, common prayers were employed in the Vatican Basilica to God the Best, the Greatest; and that a very numerous and very pious people was present with us, and that the example of Roman citizens - and moreover of others of these who had come together to pray in other sacred churches of the City - was followed in a praiseworthy manner by others from nations nearly everywhere.
As you know, universal consent for our purpose was received, not only from catholic people but also from many of those separated from us. In their temples, as if in brotherly agreement, supplications were held; a welcome spirit was publicly and privately displayed towards us.
But we ascribe it to the supreme kindness of merciful God that this so great harmony of prayers has not turned out devoid of fruits or useless. We are allowed to hope that it will turn out more fruitful in the future, even though quite recently the enemies of God's name and worship have flared up more violently for the persecution of the Church.
Therefore we must press upon Christ the Redeemer of the human race that he allow tranquillity and the freedom to profess the faith to be restored to the afflicted children of Russia. And so that everyone can press [upon him], with, to be sure, little trouble and inconvenience, we desire that those same prayers which our predecessor of happy memory Leo XIII ordered priests to recite with the people after Holy [Mass] is finished should be said for this same intention, namely for Russia. Let bishops and both [secular and regular] clergy be very diligent in advising their people, or anyone at all who attends Holy [Mass], and let them very frequently recall it to their memories.

Appendix C: Procession ‘In Time of War against Enemies of the Church’

The Manual of Prayer for England and Wales has prayers for a procession with this intention. The Great Litany is to be followed by these prayers:

Grant unto thy Church, we beseech Thee, O merciful God, that She, being gathered together by the Holy Ghost, may be in no wise troubled by attack from her foes.
O God, who by sin art offended and by penance pacified, mercifully regard the prayers of thy people making supplication unto Thee, and turn away the scourges of thine anger which we deserve for our sins.
Almighty and Everlasting God, in whose hand are the power and the government of every realm: look down upon and help the Christian people that the heathen nations who trust in the fierceness of their own might may be crushed by the power of thine arm. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Appendix D: Collects of the Holy Land Clamor[24]

With certain textual variations, the following two collects were the ones most widely used in the Middle Ages to implore heaven to grant the liberation of the Holy Land and the Christians who lived there.

Latin: Deus, qui ad nostrae redemptionis exhibenda mysteria terram permissionis elegisti, libera eam quaesumus ab instantia paganorum, it gentile incredulitate confuse populus in te confidens de rue virtutis potentia glorietur.[25]

English: O God, who chose the Land of Promise to display the mysteries of our redemption, free it, we pray, from the presence of the heathen, that with the disbelief of the gentiles being confounded, the Christian people may boast about the power of your strength.

Latin: Deus qui ammirabili providentia cunta disponis, te suppliciter exoramus, ut terram, quam unigenitus filius tuus proprio sanguine consecravit, de manibus inimicorum cruces eripiens restituas culti christiano, vota fidelium ad emus liberation em instantium misericordia dirigendo in viam salutis eternae. Per.[26]

English: O God, who arrange all things with wonderful foresight, we suppliantly entreat you to restore to Christian worship, wresting it from the hands of the enemies of the cross, the land that your only-begotten Son consecrated with his own blood, by mercifully directing the prayers of the faithful who are pressing for its delivery into the way of everlasting salvation. Through.

[1] Pope Francis Address to the Ordinary Public Consistory, 20th October 2014.
[2] John Allen The Global War on Christians: dispatches from the front lines of anti-Christian persecution (Image Books, 2014)
[3] The Collect of the Commemoration ‘For Holy Church Against Persecutors’ was enriched with an indulgence for private recital in 1934: ‘Graciously hear the prayers of Thy Church, we beseech Thee, O Lord: that her enemies and all heresies be brought to nought, and that she may serve Thee in perfect security and freedom. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.’ (‘Ecclesiae tuae, quaesumus, Domine, preces placatus admitte: ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. Per Christum Dominium nostrum. Amen.’) This prayer is not included in the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum of 1968 or subsequent editions, which are very much shorter than their predecessors. Older collections of indulgenced prayers include a number of other suitable private prayers.
[4] In England and Wales processions are authorised ‘In time of war against enemies of Holy Church’, with special prayers at their conclusion (see Appendix C).
[5] The first recorded use of a form of this Clamor was in London in 1188. For a full discussion see Amnon Linder Raising Arms: liturgy in the struggle to liberate Jerusalem in the Late Middle Ages (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2003) pp1-95. For the two most widely used collects for the Holy Land Clamor, see Appendix D.
[6] In the countries where they are said, generally speaking Catholic monarchies but also England and Wales, they are said after the principal Mass on a Sunday, whether this is Low, Sung, or Solemn, led by the celebrant before he leaves the sanctuary.
[7] Also, but less accurately, called the ‘Prayers for the Conversion of Russia’.
[8] See Appendix A.
[9] See Appendix B.
[10] Following the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, said Bishop Bohdan Dzyurakh, secretary-general of the Ukrainian Catholic Synod of Bishops, commented to the Catholic Herald (8 Apr 2014) “Greek Catholic communities like ours are denied rights in the Russian Federation, which we see as a violation of freedom of conscience and religion… We hoped these restrictions wouldn’t be applied to our Church in Crimea, but we’ve been told all religious communities must now re-register there. This means the local government usurps the power to reject those it sees as a threat. After the recent ethnic cleansing, this will amount to religious cleansing.”
[11] The liturgist J.B. O’Connell lists the occasions on which the Leonine Prayers may be omitted as follows. When Low Mass is celebrated with ‘some solemnity’, e.g. a Nuptial Mass or one preceded by the Asperges; when Mass is ‘immediately and duly’ followed by other function, such as Benediction; when a homily is preached, during, before, or after the Mass; when Low Mass is said with a ‘dialogue’ on Sundays or Feast Days; and when another Mass follows immediately without the celebrant leaving the Altar (e.g. on All Souls Day). O’Connell cites a series of decisions of the Sacred Congregation for Rites in support of these principles: SCR 3705, 3855, 3936, 3682, 3805. See J.B. O’Connell The Celebration of Mass (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1963) pp121-2.
[12] Pope St John Paul II, Regina Caeli Address on Sunday 24 April 1994.
[13] The occasion was the demand that Catholic institutions pay for ‘abortifacients, sterilization, and contraceptive services’ under the US Government’s health care insurance mandate, under the Affordable Care Act, a demand later lifted from dioceses.
[14] Some priests take of the maniple before saying the Leonine Prayers, as for preaching.
[15] Whereas a Votive Mass is a complete Mass formulary, a Commemoration adds an additional Collect, Secret, and Post Communion prayer to those which are being said for the Mass of the day. There are numerous Votive Masses and Commemorations in the 1962 Missale Romanum, and Votive Masses and Commemorations are also found in the Missal of the Ordinary Form.
[16] See Novum rubricarium (1960) 306-389
[17] Ibid. 106-114
[18] ‘First Thursday’, ‘First Friday’ and ‘First Saturday’ Votive Masses,  or a Requiem on 3rd, 7th or 30th day after death or burial, have 3rd Class status, meaning that they can be said on feasts of the 3rd Class, as well as 4th Class and ferial days.
[19] Commemorations for the Pope, the Bishop, and the Propagation of the Faith, can be said at Sung and Solemn Masses, and not only at Low Masses.
[20] On Oratio imperata, Novum rubricarum states (459): ‘During a public calamity or need which of its nature continues for a long time (e.g., war, plague and such like), the local Ordinary may indeed impose a suitable oratio imperata for the whole period of the disaster; but this prayer … is said only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays;’ and not on feasts of the 1st and 2nd Class. For short-term occasions, the restriction to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays does not apply (see 457).
[21] Before 1960 the rules can be summarised as follows. In terms of ‘private’ commemorations celebrants of Masses of simple feasts and lesser ferial days were free to add votive orations as long as the total number in each Mass was five or seven.  On semi-double days when the third collect had to be chosen such celebrants were free to add the oration of their choice. In Collegiate churches, parochial Masses and in religious houses the Rector or superior could specify the additional oration. Even public Sung or Solemn Masses on important feasts would allow the celebrant to add a third oration of his choice.
[22] In the Manual of Prayers, the official guide to paraliturgical devotions authorised by the Hierarchy of England and Wales, in successive editions, up to the edition of 1954.
[23] Acta Apostolicis Sedis 1930, Vol XXII pp300-1
[24] The translations were commissioned for this Paper and were undertaken by RPD.
[25] Linder op. cit. p37
[26] Linder, op. cit. p40