Monday, May 18, 2009

Hail Mary and the General Intercessions

Hello everyone. Hard to believe that Easter is winding down (if that's even possible). I am back in Chicago after a weekend with family in New England. I went to Sunday Mass in a parish while there and something odd happened after the final intercession of the General Intercessions. Instead of concluding the prayers with a prayer, the celebrant began the "Hail Mary," which the entire congregation picked up on immediately. After the "Hail Mary," we all sat down and the preparation of the altar and gifts began. Just wondering if anyone out there has ever witnessed this custom, knows that it occurs regularly somewhere else, or knows the reasoning behind it? Curious. Any comments are welcome. 


byte228 said...

I don't know much about it, but one of the local parishes around where I went to college used to do this. It may have been partially because Mary was the patroness of the parish.

Anonymous said...

The issue was addressed by Dennis Smolarski, SJ, in the Q&A section of Pastoral Liturgy July/August 2008. He wrote, "Prior to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, it was a common practice at the announcements (which came after the Gospel and before the sermon) to announce the names of the recently deceased of the parish, requesting that all recite an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be in common. In some places, when the Prayer of the Faithful was introduced, the Hail Mary was included in the intercessions in imitation of the earlier practice. However, such a communal recitation of a devotional prayer is an intrusion into the liturgical structure of the litany, although in some places (such as London, England), it is mandated by diocesan guidelines.
Similarly, omitting a concluding prayer addressed to God, voiced by the celebrant, and substituting a communal devotional prayer also goes against good liturgical principles." There is more to his response, so I recommend reading it in its entirety if you have a copy handy.

Copernicus said...

It's normal in England and Wales. The Hail Mary is introduced (by the person announcing the prayers of intercession) with a form of words such as Let us commend ourselves and all God's people to the intercession of our blessed mother. The priest's concluding prayer follows.

In some places, the seasonal Marian antiphon might be sung, in place of a recitation of the Hail Mary.

jdonliturgy said...

I agree that it is an intrusion into the liturgy - though I am aware of a couple of local parishes that insert the Hail Mary or another text at the end of Mass, I have never seen it substituted for the prayer after the intercessions. Although the writers of the GIRM did not forbid this (they obviously did not forsee it) - the GIRM does say (69) that the prayers are specifically addressed to God (not to Mary.)

The 2003 USCCB document "Popular Devotional Practices: Basic Questions and Answers" which can be found at
quotes (in sec. 2) Paul VI's clear disapproval of merging of devotions into the liturgy - and notes in sec. 8 that Mary, while she should be honored, in no way replaces Christ (to whom we pray in the General intercessions - "Lord, hear our prayer")

Anonymous said...

May I can add to what I experience on Mother's Day. Our Dad, Brother, Sister, & I attended Mass at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. Right after the Homily we sang "Hail Mary, Gentle Women" by Carey Landry and someone crowned the statue of Mary which was to the side of the Grotto. Could this be a custom in May? Our mother died on Mother's Day 2 years ago. While she was alive she would attend every Mother's Day there. Now we continue going every year.

Chironomo said...

I'm not sure how a prayer to Mary "intrudes" on the liturgy. And yes, I am more than familiar with the rubrics for Mass and the general assumption (no pun intended) that devotional practices should be distinct from the Eucharistic liturgy. If only it were so that all of the practices which have no place in the liturgy were as aggressively expunged as the Rosary and other prayers to the Blessed Mother!

This (the Hail Mary) is done at nearly every Mass in our parish during May and October at the conclusion of the orate fidelium. There is one particular priest here who leaves out the concluding prayer, ending instead with something to the effect of...

"We raise these prayers and all within our hearts, and offer them through the intercession of Mary as we pray: Hail Mary...".

I'm always a bit uneasy about this as it forces the Hail Mary into the role of a collect prayer, which it is not.

Anonymous...what you witnessed was a "May Crowning", a tradition familiar to every Catholic who would understand what Dominus Vobiscum means! The traditional hymn sung was Salve Regina rather than the Hail Mary, replaced in most Irish influenced US parishes by "Bring Flowers of the Rarest" until perhaps 40 years ago, and now usually accompanied by the Carey Landry "Gentle Woman" or "As I Kneel Before You". In many places, this was preceded by a "Marian Procession", carrying the statue of Mary on a litter through the streets of the neighborhood, ending at the Church.