The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
The first reading for this Sunday reminds us that the Holy Spirit has poured out on us a spirit of grace and petition (prayer ). As a child, perhaps one of the first reminders given to us by our parents was, “say your prayers.” The church continues to give us that same reminder each and every day.
There are five styles of prayer: adoration/praise , expiation, love, petition and thanksgiving. Perhaps the greatest collection of these prayer styles, gathered together and used at one time, is within the celebration of the Mass.
In making the Sign of the Cross we begin our celebration in the name of the Trinity, reminding us that we do not worship on our own, we worship in God’s name.
The Confiteor or Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass as well as the Agnus Dei (or Lamb of God) are prayers of expiation, seeking God’s mercy.
Almost every collect (opening prayer), prayer over the offering and prayer after Communion, contains some form of petition in it. This weekend we will ask to always revere and love God’s name. Note that each time we use one of these prayers, it concludes with some form of “Through Christ our Lord.” We do not pray in our own accord, we will do it through Jesus.
The preface to the eucharistic prayer changes by feast day or season. There are eight used for ordinary time, each giving a specific reason why we should offer praise to God such as: Jesus making us a royal race, Jesus having compassion on our waywardness, God offering us Jesus as a remedy for our sin, Jesus opening to us the way to eternal life, our having been set over the whole world, our having our being in Christ, Jesus being sent to live among us, or having been formed as one in the Trinity. Every Preface ends in adoration as we raise our voices in the Holy, Holy.
Within the eucharistic prayer we exercise a variety of prayer actions: We acclaim the Lord, we call upon the Holy Spirit, we engage ourselves in the Institution Narrative, we remember, we offer, we make intercession and we conclude by giving glory to God by the acclamation “Amen.”
The prayers for the universal church after the creed are prayers of petition. The Our Father begins in praise “hallowed be thy name” but primarily too is a prayer of petition: “thy kingdom come,” thy will be done, give us … our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses, lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.
The very act of receiving Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist is not an action on our part; it is a prayer of love shared between Christ, each of us and with all those who are united with us in the communion of Saints.
When you attend Mass this weekend, pay attention to the words you pray and listen carefully to the prayers prayed on your behalf. Be sure you really mean what you pray. The prayer after Communion this weekend has us invoking God, that, in our constant devotion to the Eucharist, we may find our redemption. That is a very bold assumption, that we “celebrate with constant devotion.” May each of us be worthy of all that prayer requires.
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.