Fr Timothy Finigan offering Mass for the election of a Pope. Credit: Mac McLernon (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Fr Timothy Finigan offering Mass for the election of a Pope. Credit: Mac McLernon (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The other day I looked at the prayers of the ordinary form’s Mass for the Election of a Pope. Today I’ll look at the corresponding Mass in the extraordinary form (Traditional Latin Mass). Today’s blog entry is heavily indebted to this post at Rorate Caeli giving the texts in Latin, as my parish priests gave us only some of the texts of the Mass.

Again, the whole idea here is that the best way for us to participate in the election of our new Pontiff is to pray for him. And why not let the words of scripture that the Church has given us guide our own prayers?

These texts would be great to take with you into a holy hour to pray for our future Roman Pontiff, so that you can let the words provided to us by the Church form your prayer life.


This Mass has both similarities and differences with its ordinary form counterpart.


The introit is essentially the same text from First Samuel:

I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to my heart and mind; I will establish a lasting house for him and he shall walk before me all his days. Ps. O Lord, remember David, and all his meekness. Glory to the Father…. I will raise up for myself….

Of course it includes a psalm verse, as introits are wont to do, but this is clearly a point of continuity between the old and new Mass. This prayer shows the Church’s priority when electing the Pope: fidelity. The psalm verse reminds us that our Holy Father should be in this sense like David, caring more for the Lord’s dwelling, the Church, than for his own.

The collect (opening prayer) is:

O Lord, with suppliant humility, we entreat you, that in your boundless mercy, you would grant the most holy Roman Church a pontiff, who, by his zeal for us, may be pleasing to you, and by his good government may ever be honoured by your people for the glory of your name. Through our Lord…


Like the ordinary form collect, this looks to the Pope’s dual responsibility to God and to us. In this prayer, our Pope has a duty to God to have zeal for the flock – think ‘feed my sheep’ and a duty to us, to govern us well.

The lesson (think first reading) is a text from the Letter to the Hebrews:

Brethren: Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid. For every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on them that are ignorant and that err: because he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And therefore he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. Neither does any man take the honour to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was. So Christ also did not glorify himself, that he might be made a high priest: but he that said unto him: You are my Son, this day have I begotten you. As he says also in another place: You are a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech. Who in the days of his flesh, with a strong cry and tears, offering up prayers and supplications to him that was able to save him from death, was heard for his reverence.

This reading reminds us that our next Pope will, pray God, be holy, but that he will not be immaculate. He needs our prayers, both now and throughout his pontificate.

The gradual (like a responsorial psalm, just without responses) is from Leviticus and the Letter to the Hebrews:

The high priest, the priest greatest among his brethren, upon whose head the oil of anointing has been poured, and whose hands have been consecrated for the priesthood, and who has been clothed with the holy vestments: it was fitting that in all things he should be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful priest before God, that he might be a propitiation for the sins of the people.

Let us pray that we might dwell in unity with our next Holy Father.

The tract (pre-Gospel acclamation) comes from Ps. 131:

Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark of your strength. Let your priests be clothed with justice, and let your holy ones rejoice. For your servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of your anointed.

May our Pope be a just man, in whose heart the Lord can rest.

The Gospel is from that according to John:

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, nor knows him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you. Yet a little while: and the world will see me no more. But you see me: because I live, and you will live. In that day you shall know, that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me, shall be loved by my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

This comes from Christ’s discourse to his disciples during Holy Week, and we are reminded that even in this time of sedes vacans, we are not orphans, but are beloved of God.

The offertory is interestingly from a deuterocanonical book called 3 Esdras in the Latin Vulgate, but often — confusingly — 1 Esdras in English texts containing it:

They will not partake of holy things, until a high priest arises for manifestation and for truth.

Let us pray that our Pope will manifest to the world the truth of Christ.

The secret is:

Grant us, O Lord, from the fullness of your loving kindness, that by the sacred offerings which we reverently offer unto You, we may rejoice in a Pontiff pleasing to Your majesty, and presiding over the government of holy mother Church. Through our Lord.

This is a beautiful prayer full of hope, which also mirrors the exitus-reditus cycle of Catholic prayer. There’s an outpouring (exitus) from God of abundant kindness, which results in our return (reditus) to him through our offerings. Then there’s also the hopeful expectation that God will give us a new Pope, and our joyous response.

The text is actually so similar to that in the ordinary form, that I expect they’re the same prayer in Latin typical editions. Would that the USCCB had provided the prayers not only in English and Spanish, but in Latin as well…

The communion antiphon is from Exodus:

The pontiff who will be appointed will wear the holy vesture, and will enter into the tabernacle of the testimony, to minister in the sanctuary.

Thank God he gives us Popes who ministes on our behalf…

The post-communion is:

May we who are refreshed by the sacrament of Your precious Body and Blood, O Lord, be gladdened by the wonderful grace of Your majesty in granting us a pontiff, who shall instruct Your people by his virtues and fill the souls of the faithful with spiritual fragrance. Who live…

This prayer hearkens back to the imagery we saw in the secret earlier. Throughout this sedes vacans, this would be a good meditation to pray over after having received Communion.

At this Mass the priest wears red vestments, as at votive Masses of the Holy Spirit, highlighting the fact that we are invoking the Spirit’s guidance for the cardinal-electors in conclave.

Rorate says the local bishop must give permission for this Mass to be said, so perhaps that’s why the priests at my parish are not saying the Mass but are instead including it as a commemoration during the normal Lenten Masses. (Conversely, if this Mass is said, the Lenten weekday is included as a commemoration.)

Fr. Z tells us that Bishop Morlino has given priests in the Diocese of Madison permission to say votive Masses for the election of the Pope.

The exciting thing about this Mass, since we are in Lent, is that it includes a Gloria, and you can have flowers and the organ. So if you want to ditch the penance for one Mass, encourage your priest to say this one!

This Mass can be said up through March 23rd, except on Sundays and on St. Joseph’s feast day, and then not again until April 8th. But one should hope we’ll have a Pope well before March 23rd.