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Vatican issues Mass readings to pray for self-restraint

All of the baptized faithful can pray for ‘pure and undivided heart’

Published: July 17, 2023   
An illustration of the Last Supper appears opposite the title page of the third typical edition of Roman Missal in Latin in this file photo from 2002.

VATICAN CITY — The Latin version of the Roman Missal, the book of prayers used for Mass, includes a special set of prayers for a Mass with the intention of praying for "continence" or self-restraint, specifically as it regards sexuality.

But until recently, the Vatican had not indicated the Scripture readings that should be used at such a Mass.

In a decree dated March 20 and with a note explaining the decree June 22, the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments provided the Bible readings.

It also said the decision in 2002 to include a Mass for continence in the missal for use by the entire Church is a reminder that "all the baptized are called to foster this virtue with a pure and undivided heart, and not just those who are in religious life or who are ordained, but also young people and married couples, as the Second Vatican Council clearly taught" in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

The Bible, the word of God, "allows for a true and profound understanding" of what the church is asking for when it prays for continence, the note said.

The Bible readings, it said, were chosen "to offer a complete celebration in order to ask for the grace of a chaste heart, free from the desire to dominate, to possess, to conquer, to pursue one's ambitions in an unbridled manner and to satisfy one's desires, often at the expense of the weakest."

For the first reading at the Mass, the Vatican gave celebrants the choice of two passages from the Hebrew Scriptures or three from New Testament, and there are two possibilities for the responsorial Psalm.

The Gospel reading for the Mass is either Matthew 5:13-16, which begins, "You are the salt of the earth," or John 15:12-17, which begins, "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you."

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