Benedicamus Domino? Ite, Missa est.

Learning the Latin Mass hasn’t been without its headaches.  At one point I was the only one saying it every week for about 6 months, which is when it became second nature.

A point of confusion was the ending of the Mass during Advent and Lent.  The Mass ends by the Priest saying “Ite, Missa est,”  meaning variously “Go the Mass is ended” or, more appropriately, “Go, you are sent forth.”  It’s obviously loaded with deep theological meanings.

But Masses that don’t have the Gloria in them, end in “Benedicamus Domino”. So during Advent and Lent one might end the Mass by saying such, which means, “Let us bless the Lord”.

Or do they?  Many Priests do this, and I was taught to do so in my training at St. John Cantius.

Except

The problem is that the 1962 Missal doesn’t say to do that.  The ’62 Missal sticks with (and explicitly says to stick with) saying “Ite, Missa Est“, to end the Mass during Advent and Lent.  (Previous Missals, the ’55 and such – DO have the Benedicamus Domino.)

When something changes so often, so quickly, so much – it’s easy to be confused.  Divinum Officium  is an excellent resource for looking over the changes through the years.

  • The Missal says:  “In dominicis tempore Adventus, Quadregesima et Passionis, in Missas de commemoratione in Officio, in omnibus feriis extra tempus paschale, in vigiliis II et III classis et in Missa Rogationum – “Ite, missa est.
  • Which of course translates as:  “On the Sundays of Advent, Lent and the Passion, the Mass of commemoration in the Office, at any time outside of the Easter holidays, in vigils of the  2nd and 3rd class, and in Rogation Masses, – “Ite, Missa est.”
  • The only difference during the times mentioned just above (Advent, etc,) is a simpler sung tone.  The wording is the same.
  • We go on to read:
  • Quando post Missam sequitur aliqua processio, loco “Ite, Missa est” cantatur “Benedicamus Domino”.
  • Which of course translates:
  • “When the Mass is followed by a procession, instead of “Ite, Missa est,” sing “Benedicamus Domino“.

So, Masses during Advent end with Ite, Missa est.  Unless I’m missing something.  Something that’s not written in my Missal.

Prayer After the Mass

While we’re at it, there’s another long-standing tradition which we’ve always observed that has never made any sense.  I noticed this during seminary.

As Mass ends everyone processes into the Sacristy, waits for the celebrating or highest ranking priest to enter, bows towards the Crucifix and says “pro sit”.  I asked about this peculiar tradition, and it was explained:  It means “it is concluded.”  It is finished”

Except it doesn’t mean that at all.

Prosit

“Prosit” actually means “may it benefit/profit”.  The obvious questions arise. What may it benefit, or profit?  Whom, even?  How? Where? When?

What actually is supposed to happen is this:

  • Priest:  Prosit…
  • Servers: …Pro omnibus et singulis.
  • *Kneel*
  • Servers: Jube, Domne, benedicere.
  • Priest: Benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus, descendat super vos et maneat sempter.

Which Translates As…

  • Priest: May it benefit…
  • Servers… one and all.
  • *Kneel*
  • Servers: Please, sir, a blessing.
  • Priest: May the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, descend upon you and remain forever.

Then, and only then, is everything picked up and one can head to the pancake house amidst prayers of praise and thanksgiving.

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