The Prayers After Low Mass
[aka, The Leonine Prayers]
Peregrinus Gasolinus: Wandering Notes on the Liturgy
Romanitas Press note
The so-called Leonine Prayers said after Low Mass have their origin under Pope Leo XIII when he ordered the thrice Ave, single Salve Regina and two other prayers to be said for the intention of the Church's liberty after the Papal States' illegitimate seizure.
Pope St. Pius X renewed this prescription in 1903, and in 1904 allowed the addition of the versicle and responsory of "Most Sacred Heart of Jesus...". In 1915, Pope Benedict XV renewed the rule. In 1930, Pope Pius XI decreed that these prayers were to be said for Russia.
In September 1964, via the decree Inter Oecumenici, these prayers were declared "suppressed". However, as Our Lady of Fatima's request to have Russia consecrated to her Immaculate Heart had not yet been fulfilled (and remains so to this day), for pastoral reasons, many simply ignored this omission.
Latin-English Prayers after Low Mass card (produced by Louis Tofari)
Thus, most who offer the traditional Roman Mass have continued the custom as if still legally in force.
* * * * *
“Have you ever noticed,” said the Antiquary, as the battered old flivver set itself manfully to breast a long hill, “the divergence of usage with regard to the prayers after Low Mass ordered by Pope Leo XIII?”
“Have I not! “sighed the Liturgiologist, settling back to enjoy to the full one of the few occasions on which he knew the Antiquary would not, because he could not, speed. “Some say them, and some don’t, apparently at their own will and pleasure, just as if the Holy Father had left the matter optional with them.”
“But they are always to be said after every Low Mass, are they not?”
“They are not! And certainly if the Pope orders them to be said at certain times, and to be omitted at other certain times, the priest is just as much bound to omit them when the directions say ‘omit’ as he is to say them on the occasion when they are ordered to be said.”
“Well, of course, everybody knows that they are omitted when Benediction is immediately to follow, and perhaps when the sermon is preached after, instead of during the Mass.” The Antiquary let her out a little, having reached the crest of the hill, and the Liturgiologist gave his customary gasp as the flivver began to race down the opposite incline.
“Perhaps, nothing!” The increasing speed added to his increasing nervousness. But his elder companion well knew that nothing could so effectually take the Liturgiologist’s mind from the incidental thrills of motoring as a discussion of his metier. “If a general or catechetical instruction follows Mass, and is given by the celebrant without his leaving the altar, the prayers must be omitted. Originally, of course, these prayers were ordered to be said after every Mass sine cantu. But later decrees, of equal binding force, made certain exceptions.”
“Explica per partes,” said the Antiquary, as the car began to climb another hill. Indiana at its best is not alpine, but it has hills, tradition to the contrary notwithstanding!
The Liturgiologist counted off on his fingers. “1) After the conventual Mass—whatever that may mean. Perhaps it would be stretching ecclesiastical terms too far to interchange this phrase with ‘the principal Mass.’ But, if the principal Mass should not be sung but celebrated with external solemnity the Prayers, nevertheless should be omitted. 2) After a funeral Mass sine cantu. 3) After the privileged votive Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart on the First Fridays—I wonder how many good pastors know that! 4) After a Low Mass with certain external solemnity.”
“Such as, for example”—cut in the Antiquary.
“The Decrees enumerate several occasions which come under this head. A Mass at which there are First Communions, a general Communion, or a Low Mass said in connection with the administration of Confirmation, and the Nuptial Mass. (5) Besides these there are times when Low Mass is connected with a solemn ceremony, as when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, or Benediction is immediately to follow without the celebrant leaving the altar. (You mentioned that one, Pere.) Or when a sermon follows Mass. (You mentioned that also, but with a ‘perhaps’ which invalidated your remark!) Oddly enough the last proviso is, when a Church society has a meeting in the church immediately after Mass.”
“What if the celebrant gives Holy Communion immediately?”
“Then the prayers are to be said. Also when the celebrant on Christmas and All Souls Day says his three Masses consecutively, he recites the prayers only after the third. If a High Mass is to follow a Low Mass immediately the prayers are not said, but there is some controversy about whether this applies to two Masses read by the same celebrant or holds as well when a different priest is to sing the High Mass.”
“I’ve sometimes seen the priest, when the congregation was singing, go right on with these prayers without giving the people a chance to join in.”
“Quite proper,” replied the Liturgiologist. “There is a distinct provision permitting the priest to say the prayers without waiting for the people to join, if they are engaged in public prayers or singing when Mass is over. But what you’ll often see, and what is distinctly forbidden, is the priest coming down from the foot pace with the chalice in his hands, and holding it while he kneels and says the prayers.”
“Is that because the direction is that the prayers are to be said by the celebrant ‘junctis manibus?'"
“Certainly. The utmost concession that can be made is to permit the Celebrant to hold a card with the prayers printed upon it, as, for example, if he is insufficiently acquainted with the vernacular. Of course the prayers may always be said in Latin, but as a rule they are said with the people in the language of the people.”
“While we are on fine points,” dryly remarked the Antiquary, as he negotiated yet another hill, “ought not the celebrant take off his Maniple for these prayers, since they are not part of the Mass itself?”
“Utique, stricte loquendo,” was the instant answer of the Liturgiologist, “but there is such a thing as ‘the rubric of common sense,’ tho some chauffeurs I might mention (were I not an extremely charitable and long-suffering individual) don’t seem to have heard of it!”
“Would you have me drive this car junctis manibus?” growled the Antiquary.
“God forbid,” was the quick response. “It’s bad enough when you have both hands on the wheel!”
Leonine Prayers in Latin
V. Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructis ventris tui, Jesus.
R. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen. (three times)
Salve Regina, * Mater misericordiae, vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve. Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Evae. Ad te suspiramus gementes et fientes in hac lacrymarum valle. Eia ergo, Advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte. Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui, nobis, post hoc exilium, ostende. O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
Oremus. Deus, refugium nostrum et virtus, populum ad te clamantem propitius respice; et intercedente gloriosa, et immaculata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beato Joseph, ejus Sponso, ac beatis Apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, et omnibus Sanctis, quas pro conversione peccatorum, pro libertate et exaltatione sanctae Matris Ecclesiae, preces effundimus, misericors et benignus exaudi. Per eundum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Sancte Michaël 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.
V. Cor Jesu sacratissimum. R. Miserere nobis. (three times)
Leonine Prayers in English
V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
R. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. (three times)
Hail, Holy Queen, * Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee to we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mouring and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. O God, our refuge and our strength, look down with mercy upon the people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the glorious and immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of St. Joseph her spouse, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy mercy and goodness hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of the Holy Mother the Church. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
St. Michael the Archangel , defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
R. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. V. Have mercy on us.
1 Derived from the Old French word "mestier" and from Latin "misterium" (an alteration of "ministerium"), meaning "vocation," "trade: or an area of activity in which one excels ("forte").
2 Latin for "without chant".
3 Latin for "explain by parts".
4 French for "Father".
5 Latin for "provision".
6 Latin for "joined hands".
7 A Latin phrase meaning "at least, as strictly stated".