A new feature of the third edition of the Roman Missal is the optional Prayers Over the People on weekdays in Lent. Many of these prayers are quite ancient, having their origins in the sacramentaries of the 6th-8th centuries. It should be noted that, while the use of these prayers is optional on weekdays in Lent, these texts are obligatory on Sundays during this season. Because the listing of the texts associated with these prayers is given elsewhere in the Roman Missal (at the conclusion of the Order of Mass), the following is given as a handy reference for celebrants and deacons:
- Greeting (“The Lord be with you”) with response
- Invitation “Bow down for the blessing” (given by the deacon)
- Prayer Over the People with hands outstretched
- Conclusion “And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit, come down on you and remain with you forever.”
Inasmuch as Lent is a time of preparation for Christian initiation, the Liturgy Office is occasionally asked if infant baptisms should be scheduled during this season. In fact, nothing prohibits infant baptisms during Lent, and delaying until Easter is not always reasonable. The Code of Canon Law states that “parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks” (867). The Catechism of the Catholic Church similarly says: “The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth” (1250).