Prayer Petitions

Q. After praying the Rosary at daily Mass, one lady adds, “May the divine assistance remain always with us and may the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.” This seem like two pious but unrelated statements which are kind of thrown out there. If it began with “O Lord” or “Dear God” it would make more sense, but to fling this between Hail, Holy Queen and the St. Michael Prayer, I’m not getting the point. Is this a prayer, two petitions, or two statements?

— R.C., Sergeant Bluff, Iowa

A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:

 “May the divine assistance remain with us always” and “May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace” are two examples of what our liturgy names verses and responses. Ordinarily, the person leading the prayer will say the verse (“May the souls of the faithful departed….”) and those sharing the prayer will respond, “Amen.”

One need not look far to find examples of the use of these verses, either combined or standing alone. Together they are often used to close the Rosary, and by itself “May the divine assistance remain with us always” is frequently used to conclude the prayers after the Angelus and the Salve Regina. Before the liturgical changes of the Second Vatican Council, each of the hours of the Divine Office ended with the verse begging God’s mercy on the souls of the dead, and many who presently take part in the Church’s “official” prayer make this petition, even though it is now purely optional.

One point we should make is to note these verses and their accompanying “Amen” are petitions that bring prayers to a close. While they may profitably be offered at any time, they have traditionally been employed at the end of a prayer.