Praying for Wisdom during the Conclave

The next Pope of the Catholic Church will be elected during the conclave, a balloting process carried out by 115 eligible cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, expected to commence this week.

The Roman Missal includes prayers for a Mass for the Election of a Pope in the section entitled “Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions”.  Texts to use at a Mass for a Council or a Synod are also included in this same list “For Holy Church”. Scripture readings are provided in the Lectionary Volume 3 under the same headings.

Masses for Various Needs and Occasions can be celebrated on weekdays of Lent with the permission of the local Ordinary in cases of serious need or pastoral advantage. Since the resignation of Pope Benedict and the calling of a conclave to elect a replacement is clearly a case of serious need, Archbishop Mark Coleridge has given permission for the Mass for the Election of a Pope and for a Council or a Synod to be celebrated on weekdays in the Archdiocese after the Pope stepped down on 28th February and until a new Pope is elected.

Here are some of the prayers from the Mass for the Election of a Pope:

O God, eternal shepherd,
who govern your flock with unfailing care,
grant in your boundless fatherly love
a pastor for your Church
who will please you by his holiness
and to us show watchful care. (Collect)
As we have been renewed, O Lord,
with the supreme Sacrament of salvation,
the Body and Blood of your Only Begotten Son,
may the wondrous grace of your majesty
gladden us with the gift of a shepherd
who will instruct your people by his virtues
and imbue the minds of the faithful
with the truth of the Gospel.  (Prayer after Communion)
These two collects from the Mass for a Council or Synod are appropriate for private and liturgical use until the decision about a new pope has been made:

O Lord, ruler and guardian of your Church,
pour out, we pray, upon your servants
a spirit of truth, understanding and peace,
that they may strive with all their heart
to know what is pleasing to you
and then pursue it with all their strength. (Collect A)
O God, who care for your peoples with gentleness
and rule them in love,
endow with a spirit of wisdom
those to whom you have handed on authority to govern,
that your people may be led to know the truth more fully
and to grow in holiness according to your will. (Collect B)
On Sundays the election of the Pope can be recalled in the introduction to the Mass, the intercessions, and the preaching. In the Eucharistic Prayer, the pope is not mentioned in the intercession for the leaders of the Church.

The use of these liturgical resources enables Catholics to pray with one voice during this critical time of decision making, asking that the Holy Spirit will guide and guard the Church.

Elizabeth Harrington