Angelus Right After Mass

Author: Father Edward McNamara


Angelus Right After Mass

ROME, 28 NOV. 2006 (ZENIT)

Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: I have been assigned to celebrate Mass at a chapel where the custom, instituted by one of my predecessors, is to pray the Angelus immediately after the 7:30 a.m. Mass. Mass concludes with the blessing and dismissal, and is followed by the Angelus. Is this correct? I know that the Holy Father prayed the Angelus after Mass in St. Peter's Square, but there is something awkward about saying, "Mass is ended, go in peace," and then praying the Angelus. — P.R., Abuja, Nigeria

A: Certainly Pope John Paul II would sometimes pray the Angelus at the end of Mass. But this was usually required by the tyranny of having to respect television transmission timetables. It was not so much a personal liturgical innovation.

The Regina Caeli is also frequently sung after the blessing at papal Masses during Easter. And the procession does not begin until it has concluded.

As our reader points out, there is some awkwardness in imparting the final blessing and the dismissal and then beginning to recite another act of piety, even one as worthy as the Angelus.

The final dismissal is a sign that the liturgical assembly, with its particular presence of Christ, is now concluded.

All the same, when we say "Go in peace" we usually do not expect the people to immediately head for the exits. There is no incongruity in asking the faithful to wait at least until the priest has processed out or until the end of any final hymn that might be sung. This is because these actions are in some way immediately connected to the Mass even though the liturgy is technically over.

Although the Mass is the greatest act of prayer, and devotions are not usually united to Mass, there is no contradiction in having private or community devotions immediately before or after the celebration. When Mass ends, those who wish may leave; others may remain to prolong their personal thanksgiving or recite other prayers.

Regarding the present question, if the people are devoted to the Angelus it is a good thing to maintain a healthy custom while respecting the pace of the liturgy.

I suggest that a small change could be made. While the people sing the concluding hymn, the priest could kiss the altar and return to the sacristy. Then, depending on the circumstances and location of the sacristy, he could remove at least the chasuble and return to pray the Angelus with those who wish to remain. The same basic method could also apply to other pious practices such as litanies and novenas. ZE06112829

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Follow-up: Angelus Right After Mass [12-12-2006]

After our column on the Angelus at Mass (Nov. 28) a reader made an observation: "In my parish, the priest prays the Angelus just before the start of Mass. That could be another idea to suggest to that priest."

I happily pass on the suggestion, provided of course that the prayer is not joined to the rite of Mass itself. ZE06121221

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