Prayers for the Priest at the Eucharist: preparation and thanksgiving

There are many ways of preparing for the celebration of the Eucharist and bearing in mind the wise injunction to ‘pray as you can; not as you should’  no doubt none of them is ‘right’, but some of them might be helpful in our journey to be closer to the Lord.

Martin Warner’s excellent book Habit of Holiness has a great set of daily preparations for Mass, one for each day and season of the church’s year. David Stancliffe’s collection Pilgrim Prayerbook also has a good set.
Those which follow are specifically for priests. Obviously, examination of conscience is appropriate before and after Mass. It is usually quite difficult to find quiet and space before and after services in church; the battle for this should not be given up but it may be more realistic to set aside specific times later or earlier in the day for preparation and thanksgiving. For example, preparation for Mass might be the first devotion of the day whatever time the celebration is to take place, or even the last devotion of the preceding night; thanksgiving could be set aside for a time when it is possible to make a visit to the reserved sacrament. Looking at these texts I see that there are some missing elements, perhaps, as traditionally, the Benedicite could be memorised and used as thanksgiving.

Before Mass
Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mother of mercy and love, blessed Virgin Mary, I am a poor and unworthy sinner, and I turn to you in confidence and love. You stood by your Son as he hung dying on the cross. Stand also by me, a poor sinner, and by all the priests who are offering Mass today, here and throughout the entire church. Help us to offer a perfect and acceptable sacrifice in the sight of the Holy and undivided Trinity, our Most High God.

Prayer to Saint Joseph
O blessed Joseph, happy man whose privilege it was, not only to see and hear that God whom many a king has longed to see, yet saw not; longed to hear, yet heard not, but also to carry him in your arms and to kiss him, to clothe him and to watch over him.

Pray for us, blessed Joseph
That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

God, who has conferred upon us a royal priesthood, we pray to you to give us grace to minister at your holy altars with hearts as clean and lives as blameless as that blessed Joseph who was found worthy to hold in his arms and with all reverence to carry your only begotten Son, born of the virgin Mary. Enable us this day to receive worthily the sacred Body and Blood of your Son, and help us to win an everlasting reward in the world to come. Through the same…

Direction of Intention
Eternal Trinity, I intend by your grace to celebrate Mass to your glory, and for the benefit of all, both living and dead, for whom Christ died, and to apply the ministerial fruit for (here name the recipient of the Mass intention).
And the personal fruit for (here name some virtue or need).
Suffer me, O Lord, to offer you my whole being, all that I am and have; all that is dear to me; all that I shall do or be called upon to bear this day and to lay it in spirit upon the Paten, there to be offered upon the Divine Victim of the Sacrifice; and may I be poured out as the Precious Blood is poured out in the sacred chalice.
Accept my Communion, I pray, as Viaticum, if I shall die this day, without being able to receive again the blessed Eucharist.

To the Saint in whose honour Mass is celebrated
O holy N, behold me, a poor sinner, trusting in your merits, I offer the most holy Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, to your honour. I humbly pray that today you will intercede for me, that I may worthily and acceptably offer so great a sacrifice; that with you an
d all his chosen ones, I may praise him eternally and reign with him who live sand reigns, one God, now and for ever.

Vesting Prayers before Mass:

Washing Hands
Give strength to my hands, Lord, to wipe away all stain, so that I may be able to serve Thee in purity of mind and body.
Amice or with the hood up
Lord, set the helmet of salvation on my head to fend off all the assaults of the devil.
Make me pure, O Lord, and cleanse my heart; that being made pure in the Blood of the Lamb I may deserve an eternal reward.
Gird me, O Lord, with the girdle of purity, and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may abide in me.
May I deserve, O Lord, to bear the maniple of weeping and sorrow in order that I may joyfully reap the reward of my labours.]
Lord, restore the stole of immortality, which I lost through the collusion of our first parents, and, unworthy as I am to approach Thy sacred mysteries, may I yet gain eternal joy.
O Lord, who has said, ‘My yoke is sweet and My burden light,’ grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace.
My Purpose is to celebrate Mass and to make present the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the rite of the holy Catholic Church to the praise of our all-powerful God and all His assembly in the glory of heaven, for my good and the good of all His pilgrim Church on earth, and for all who have asked me to pray for them in general and in particular, and for the good of the holy Catholic Church.
May joy and peace, amendment of life, room for true penitence, the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit, and steadfastness in good works be granted us by the almighty and merciful Lord.

The following may be prayed during the entrance procession:

Psalm 43
I will go unto the altar of God:
even unto the God of my joy and gladness.
Give sentence with me, O God, and defend my cause against the ungodly people:
O deliver me from the deceitful and wicked man.
For thou art the God of my strength, why hast thou put me from thee:
and why go I so heavily, while my enemy oppresseth me?
O send out thy light and thy truth, that they may lead me:
and bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy dwelling.
And that I may go unto the altar of God,
even unto the God of my joy and gladness.
and upon the harp will I give thanks unto thee, O God my God.
Why art thou so heavy, O my soul:
and why art thou so disquieted within me?
O put the trust in God:
for I will yet give thee thanks, which is the help of my countenance and my God.
I will go unto the altar of God:
Even unto the God of my joy and gladness.

Prayers After Mass
Upon approaching the Cross after the Mass, the celebrant says:
Prosit (for your benefit)
All respond:
Pro omnibus et singulis. (for all and for each)

May the tribute of my humble ministry be pleasing to you, Holy Trinity. Grant that the sacrifice which I, unworthy as I am, have offered in the presence of your majesty, may be acceptable to you. Through your mercy may it bring forgiveness to me and to all for whom I have offered it. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mary, holy Virgin Mother, I have received your Son, Jesus Christ. With love you became His mother, gave birth to him, nursed him, and helped him to grow to manhood. With love I return him to you, to hold once more, to love with all your heart, and to offer to the Holy Trinity as our supreme act of worship for your honour and the good of all your pilgrim brothers and sisters. Mother, ask God to forgive my sins and to help me to serve him more faithfully. Keep me true to Christ until death, and let me come to praise him with you for ever and ever. Amen.

A Prayer to the Saint in whose honour Mass was offered
O Holy N, to whose honour I have offered the bloodless sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ: grant that by your intercession before God, I may through this sacrament obtain the fruits of the Passion and death of the same Christ our Saviour, and that continually coming to this, I may ever set forward the work of my salvation. Amen

Holy Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil, may God rebuke him we humbly pray. And by the power of God trample Satan underfoot and all wickedness present in the world for the ruin of souls.


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