Praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Photo: courageous priest

Mentioning the Saint of the Day

And More on Ministers at the Liturgy of the Hours

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Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: How do we interpret the insertion of the «saint of the day» as stated in Eucharistic Prayer III? For example, in the United States Jan. 5 is St. John Neumann, although in 2014 the 5th was the Epiphany: Would it have been improper to insert his name in EP III as the «saint of the day»? My priest group grappled with this over dinner, and we couldn’t find a definitive answer or document. One priest interprets it strictly, so if the day is a Sunday, then the liturgical calendar of Sunday replaces/suppresses any saint on the sanctoral. There is no «saint of the day» when a greater feast or solemnity or Sunday falls on their day. However, I believe that if the day is a Sunday, but it happened to be a saint’s day on the sanctoral calendar, EP III allowed for the commemoration of the saint so as to not be completely forgotten. — R.F., Chicago

A: I am inclined to the less strict interpretation and would allow any saint of the day to be mentioned.

Among the reasons for this interpretation is that the rubric says, «[…] with Saint N.: the Saint of the day or Patron Saint.»

The priest proposing the strict interpretation is correct in saying that Sunday replaces any saint in the calendar (unless the saint is celebrated as a solemnity). But this rubric, since it also allows for the mention of the patron saint of the parish at any Mass using EP III, would not seem to be tied to the calendar. Therefore, I see no reason to restrict its use.

Likewise, not even those following the strict interpretation seem to exclude the mention of the saint of the day on any other occasion even if the saint is not celebrated. Thus, even if an obligatory memorial is not celebrated, say, because of a funeral or a special anniversary, or the priest chooses not to celebrate an optional memorial, the saint of the day can still be mentioned in Eucharistic Prayer III.

We will soon have an unusual coincidence of two obligatory memorials. On June 13, 2015, the Immaculate Heart of Mary coincides with St. Anthony of Padua. Although either may be celebrated, it is possible to celebrate the Immaculate Heart while mentioning St. Anthony in Eucharistic Prayer III.

I would even go so far as to say that if there is no saint assigned to the day in the universal calendar, the priest could even opt to mention a saint from the Roman Martyrology of the day if he had a good pastoral reason for doing so.

It is also worth mentioning that the possibility of including a saint’s name is not exclusive to Eucharistic Prayer III. It also exists in the Eucharistic Prayers for use in Masses for Various Needs. What is interesting here is that these Eucharistic Prayers can only be used when celebrating one of the Masses for various needs and occasions (for example: Masses for the Church, for a council or synod, for vocations, for the laity, for civil leaders, for peace and justice). Because of this, these Eucharistic Prayers can only be used for Masses in which the celebration of a saint is positively excluded. Therefore, the fact that they include the possibility of mentioning the saint of the day corroborates the interpretation that this rubric is not intimately tied to the precedence of feasts found in the calendar.

If this is so, then whenever Eucharistic Prayer III is used on a Sunday the saint of the day can be recalled.

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Follow-up: Ministers at the Liturgy of the Hours

In the wake of our May 26 reply on the Liturgy of the Hours, we received the following query: «In a seminary setting, if the one presiding is a seminarian but a priest is present, would the opening and closing prayer be said by the presiding seminarian or by the priest? Likewise with compline during the ‘May almighty God have mercy…’?»

As we saw in our previous response, if a priest is present, and actually taking part in the common recitation of the office, he should normally preside over the office even in a seminary setting. In this case the opening invocation and the closing prayer and dismissal would always be said by a priest or, in his absence, a deacon.

However, if the priest just happened to be present, and the office in the seminary is organized by the seminarians taking turns at leading (not presiding as, strictly speaking, only an ordained minister presides), then I believe there would be no obligation to interrupt the usual practices, although it would be a good thing to invite the priest to preside.

Likewise, if the priest is habitually present but could be considered as legitimately impeded (for example, he is there to be available for confessions), then the office could also be led by a seminarian.

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Readers may send questions to Please put the word «Liturgy» in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.

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Fr. Edward McNamara

Padre Edward McNamara, L.C., è professore di Teologia e direttore spirituale

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