Q: Until the election of the new Pope, is it possible to celebrate the Mass “Pro eligendo Papa” instead of the Mass of the day, given that we are in Lent? — M.D., France
A: The Committee on Divine Worship of the U.S. bishops’ conference has produced a set of liturgical notes on the resignation of the Pope. These address many of the questions at hand.
Since all this will take place during Lent, it is necessary to remember that the Masses for various needs mentioned below may only be celebrated on weekdays “at the direction of the Diocesan Bishop or with his permission” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 374).
The principal points of the above-mentioned liturgical notes are the following:
“Once the Pope’s resignation takes effect, both the Diocesan Bishop and priests in every parish might consider offering a special Mass for the election of the Pope, according to the guidelines of the liturgical calendar. Mass offered by the Diocesan Bishop at the Cathedral or in each Vicariate for the attendance of as many of the faithful as possible is desirable. The Mass for the Election of a Pope or a Bishop (found in the section “Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions” in the Roman Missal) may be celebrated.
“A Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit might also be celebrated, using, for example, Preface II of the Holy Spirit: ‘The action of the Spirit in the Church.’
“The homily could offer the opportunity to reflect on the Petrine ministry and its role within the Church. It also affords the homilist an opportunity to instruct the faithful in the relationship between the local and the universal Church.
“The Liturgy of the Hours
“Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer may also be celebrated and on days when there is no obligatory memorial, feasts or solemnities, the closing prayer may be taken from the Mass for the Election of a Pope or Bishop.
“The faithful should be exhorted to offer their private prayers, works and almsgiving for the successful election of a new Supreme Pontiff. The simple custom of frequently praying the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for this intention is encouraged. The election of the new Pope should be prayed for in the recitation of the Rosary.
“Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful
“Petitions, such as the following, may be offered in the Universal Prayer:
“– That the Holy Spirit will inspire and strengthen the Cardinal-electors as they choose a new Holy Father to lead us, we pray to the Lord.
“– That the College of Cardinals in its electoral process may be a worthy vehicle of God’s grace guiding the Church, we pray to the Lord.
“– That the Holy Spirit will work strongly in the next Pope chosen by the College of Cardinals, we pray to the Lord.
“Upon the Election of a New Pope
“Upon the election of the new Pope, both the Diocesan Bishop and priests in every parish might consider offering a special Mass for the newly elected Pope according to the guidelines of the liturgical calendar. Mass offered by the Diocesan Bishop at the Cathedral or in each Vicariate for the attendance of as many of the faithful as possible is desirable.
“If it is the day of the election of the Pope, then the Mass for the Pope (especially on the anniversary of election) is appropriate. This Mass cannot be used on the Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter, solemnities, Ash Wednesday, and the weekdays of Holy Week. The Mass text is found in the section, ‘Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions’ in the Roman Missal.
“Again, the faithful should be exhorted to pray for the newly-elected Holy Father in their private prayers. The recitation of the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the intentions of the Pope is encouraged. The newly-elected Pope should be prayed for in the recitation of the Rosary.
“According to custom, gold and white bunting could be affixed above the entrance to the church or chapel. Flowers could be placed near the Vatican flag, which might be displayed somewhere prominently in the narthex or gathering space.
“Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful
“Some of the following petitions might be used in the Universal Prayer:
“– For our new Holy Father, N., that he may be strengthened as he embarks on his ministry of unity, love and peace, we pray to the Lord.
“– That our recently elected Holy Father, N., working together with the bishops of the Church, may build up the Body of Christ in peace and in joy, we pray to the Lord.
“– That our newly elected Holy Father N. may be a champion of the poor, a reconciler of nations and a force for peace and unity in our world, we pray to the Lord.”
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Readers may send questions to [email protected]. 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.