Monday, March 14, 2005

Liturgical Footnote #7
By Fr. J.C. Garrett

After the Gloria, we come to the first of the “three prayers of the Mass,” the Collect or Opening Prayer. First the priest invites all those present to pray which is followed by silence. During this silence all the Faithful are asked to place themselves in the presence of God, and then to formulate their own intentions for the Mass. In other words, based on our experience of witnessing to Christ’s love in the world, we bring to each Mass we attend an intention for the needs of the Church and the world. For us to adequately to do this, we really should spend sometime in “proximate preparation” before Mass thinking about what we have experienced in the past week – at home, at work, in school – that needs to be brought to the Altar of God. The priest, being configured to Christ the Head of the Body, which is the Church, then unites or “collects” these intentions and presents them to the God.

There is a separate Collect for each week of the year, and for each Solemnity and Feast, and for most of the Saints’ memorials. The Collect for Mass expresses the character of the celebration. Each Collect has the same basic structure, however in our English translations this common structure can be difficult to see. “They begin by calling on God the Father, recalling some point of our faith or some moment in salvation history, and then make a request in the name of Jesus Christ and in the unity of the Holy Spirit” (Randolph, Know Him in the Breaking of the Bread, p. 60; see also GIRM #54). This is a Trinitarian prayer of the whole Church, thus at the end of it all respond “Amen.”

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