So much for ‘short term’ missalettes

So much for ‘short term’ missalettes

Dear Editor, Chai Brady’s article about missalettes (IC 05/09/19) highlights a situation which has been allowed to continue for far too long and which needs to be seriously addressed.

When the ‘New Mass’ in English was introduced in the late 1960s – as a result of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council – the Mass leaflets/missalettes were provided to encourage the ‘active participation’ of the members of the congregation.

They were meant to be an interim measure to help people adjust to the new way of celebrating the liturgy. Fifty years later, they are still with us! They have certainly outlived their usefulness.

Rather than properly participating in the celebration, people are simply reading words. It is almost as if they are checking that the readers and celebrant are saying the right thing!

Fr Danny Murphy of the National Centre for Liturgy is correct in saying that missalettes “are not true aids” to the Sunday celebration. They have become a total distraction.

People are supposed to listen to the Word of God when proclaimed by the reader, not read along with them. This, of course, demands a high level of presentation by the reader.

The celebrant is robbed of choosing parts of the Mass where choice is available, negating the possibility of preparing a particular celebration for a particular gathering of parishioners.

It is not the task of any gathering for a liturgical celebration to simply ‘get through’ four pages of words prepared by someone else and supposedly suitable for any gathering elsewhere. At least, the Sunday Missal allows for choice.

An improvement on the four-page missalette is the A5 edition which contains only the Gloria, Readings and Creed. This is already being used in some parishes.

Yours etc.,

Fr Peter McLaughlin,

Derry Diocese.



Probems with missalettes are easily overcome

Dear Editor, I was struck by the wave of negativity towards missalettes (IC 05/09/19)). It is obvious that there are shortcomings with missalettes and ideally people should listen attentively to the Word of God. However, if clergy feel constrained by the published eucharistic prayers, then switch to a missalette that doesn’t publish them. If the Triduum missalette curtails the choice of readings, then opt for a different one next year. These problems are easily solved.

In our parish we introduced the missalette when the new responses were introduced in 2011 and the initiative was of great benefit. Many people find missalettes to be very useful when the church acoustics are poor, or the standard of reading is varied or if some parishioners are hard of hearing. Many people don’t have the luxury of studying the readings during the week so it is their first time to hear them. Missalettes are beneficial, especially when the first and second readings are difficult. While there are disadvantages with the use of missalettes, they are also of great benefit.

I agree that there are environmental concerns and these should not be ignored. However, there are other materials which are sent to parishes during the year which are of far less benefit. This might be a better place to start eliminating waste. We considered providing some Sunday Missals in the church only to discover that ‘Cycle A’ began in January and not at the start of Advent. I think the missalettes are here to stay but some discussions with the publishers might be fruitful.

Yours etc.,

Fr Padraig Walsh PP,


Co. Kerry.



A little more instruction, please

Dear Editor, Can Mass missalettes (IC 05/09/19) please include prompts to help congregations understand when it is suggested that we stand/kneel/sit at appropriate parts of the Mass?

Recently I attended Mass near Belfast where printed shaded understated prompts on the missalettes suggested kneel/stand/sit. This helped to promote common purpose within the congregations there.

Sometimes in the Dublin area it might depend not only in which church Mass is attended but even which Mass time is chosen within the same church as to when standing/kneeling/sitting is chosen.

It would surely be preferable to strive for consistency of action no matter what church or what Mass time is attended.

Yours etc.,

Roy Brown,

Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.


Call for inclusion of text was not accurate

Dear Editor, I would like to acknowledge the comprehensive coverage given by Chai Brady to missalettes in the Liturgy (IC 05/09/19).

On page 12 I am quoted correctly where it reads: “Commercially produced missalettes that include the texts of the readings and the full text of the Eucharistic Prayer are not true aids to the Sunday celebration.”

For the sake of clarity for your readers and following several enquiries to my office, the statement on the top of page 4 that inaccurately calls for the inclusion of the texts of readings in missalettes is not mine. My stance as given on page 12 and 13 is clearly opposite.

I repeat from my written submission: “The Liturgy of the Word is the privileged task of listening and responding to the Word of God communally, having, that is, dependence on a minister annunciating that Word as the instrument of God.

“The Liturgy of the Word is not the simultaneous reading of the Word of God by individuals receiving that Word for themselves alone. Other than for hearing and other impairments on participation, true worship aids for the Liturgy do not include the texts of the Scripture readings.”

Yours etc.,

Fr Danny Murphy,


National Centre for Liturgy,


Co. Kildare.