Mon. Dec 11th, 2023

The missal from which Maximilian Kolbe used to celebrate Holy Mass, a Missal for which there are now firm restrictions on its use.

Let’s try to understand individual parts of Holy Mass.

On a Sunday after the Gloria and on weekdays after the Penitential Rite there follows the Prayer of the Day, also called the Collect. This name comes from the Latin word colligere and means to gather together. In this prayer the priest gathers the intentions of the faithful participating in the Mass.

The priest first invites us to prayer saying “Let us pray”; after this call there follows a moment of silence. What should we fill this with? In “General Instruction of the Roman Missal” it says this: “everybody, together with the Priest, observes a brief silence so that they may become aware of being in God’s presence and may call to mind their intentions” (54). The silence has three purposes: 1. To realise that here is the presence of God in a special way; 2. We made the specific intention with which we came to church; 3. We can also pray ourselves, e.g. “Lord, strengthen my faith”. All these intentions the priest gathers spiritually, adds his own and lifts them up to God.

The structure of the collect, that is how it is constructed shows wisdom and is interesting. The collect has four parts. The first is that the name of God is recalled: God, Father, Creator, Eternal God, Almighty God, etc. Next the works of God are recalled according to the liturgical year, that is it depends on the character of a given day: an ordinary day, a memorial, a feast day, a solemnity. What God has done for us is mentioned. The third part are the prayers directed to God as specific requests, corresponding to the mystery of the day. In that, all are united the requests of the faithful expressed in the silence. The requests are directed to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. This ending concludes the prayer of the day.

This particular prayer, concise and theologically profound, unites the past (God’s works), the present (our lives) and the future, since we expect the gifts of God. The collect finishes with the faithful saying: “Amen”, i.e. “let it be so, I believe”. In this way they confirm the contents of the prayer and express trust that God hears it.

Who says this prayer? Obviously, the priest. In reality, however, he only lends his mouth to Jesus Christ – because it is Jesus who gathers us for the Eucharist, it is Jesus who brings our prayers to the Father in heaven, it is Jesus who feeds us with His word and Body.

Let’s take note of one more feature of this prayer. The priest says it with his hands raised up. In the early Church everybody prayed like this, as evidenced by early Christian art in caves and catacombs. By this gesture it’s as if the priest says: “I open my heart up to You as these hands, and I surrender myself to You, Lord”; “Fill my empty hands with Your power”. We may be able to recall an event from the history of the people of Israel. In the battle with the Amalekites, Moses prayed with his hands raised up. When through exhaustion his hand began to fall, the enemy began to win. And what happened then? Aaron and Hur came to Moses and supported his arms; and finally, Israel was victorious (cf. Ex 17:8-13). So, when we see a priest praying during Mass, let’s “support” him with our prayers. The priest needs the support of the faithful. God knows the requests and needs of so many. In the prayer of the day, they are present at the altar and also before God. With trust let’s entrust them to the priest and he will receive them into his heart and with outstretched hands “send” them to the best Father in heaven through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.