15 July 2017
Who does the Intercession in the modern rites?
Who should do the Intercession? The Pauline Rite says that the 'priest' is in charge (moderari); that he invites the Faithful to pray; that he concludes it with a collect (oratione). But it is suitable (expedit) for the 'intentiones' to be done by the Deacon, a cantor, 'vel ab alio'. It has been the custom in televised papal liturgies for a variety of laypeople in a variety of langages to give the intentions. Common Worship cheerfully regards 'leading the prayers of intercession' as part of 'The ministry of the members of the congregation'.
The fine Ordinariate Missal, on the other hand, provides several intercessions. These are done by the Priest; or by the Deacon; or, in one case, by a Reader. That seems right to me. But to be honest, I must admit that the rubric at the top of the Appendix (4) does say that one of the forms provided 'may', not 'must', be used. So there is, sadly, a loophole. The Intercession, incidentally, is optional on weekdays.
In the earlier Roman Rite, the Solemn Prayers (surviving on Good Friday) were done by the Deacon giving the people an intention; after a silence the Pontiff sang a collect. The Deprecatio papae Gelasii divided the giving of the Intentions between Deacon and Schola - and the people responded Kyrie eleison. But at one stage it appears that within the Eucharistic Prayer the deacon read the Memento and Memento etiam. In the Byzantine Rite the Deacon proclaims the Intentions and the people reply with Kyrie eleison.
I would be interested to know what conclusions others would daw from this or from other evidence. It seems to me that the practice of leaving the Intercession to some lay person both to write and to deliver receives no support from ancient precedent and rather little from modern Roman legislation. The celebrant should be in charge and the the rite should not be regarded as a moment of informality in the Mass: as though we heave a sigh of relief and thank God for giving us a few moments of freedom in which we are not dominated by hieratic ministers and hieratic ritual. The Intercession should be conspicuously part of the official worship of the Church.