Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Devotion for today: it is time to “collect our petitions” and present them to God

Today we examine the small but powerful prayer known as the Collect.
Scripture for meditation: John 6, 13-14
 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

The catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: 2614When Jesus openly entrusts to his disciples the mystery of prayer to the Father, he reveals to them what their prayer and ours must be, once he has returned to the Father in his glorified humanity. What is new is to "ask in his name." Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is "the way, and the truth, and the life." Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping the word and the commandments of Jesus, it means abiding with him in the Father who, in him, so loves us that he abides with us. In this new covenant the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on the prayer of Jesus.

Here is an explanation of the “Collect” I found on the internet: This prayer begins with the presider inviting the assembly to pray, then providing a period of silence for members of the assembly to pray their personal prayer in the silence of their hearts, and then the presider praying this oration in the name of the faithful. This silence is a deliberate communal silence inviting the members of the assembly to recollect their thoughts and recall the petitions that each person brings to a particular celebration of the Eucharist. The spoken prayer of the presider is to sum up the silent prayer of the people. This opening prayer has traditionally been referred to as "the collect" based on the fact that the presider, so to speak, collects the prayers of the faithful in this prayer addressed to the Father, through Jesus, the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. When there is adequate shared silence then the "collect" will truly have something to collect. During this prayer the presider also extends his hands. This gesture is referred to as the "orans posture of prayer" and conveys that it is to God the Father to whom the prayer is addressed. The out-stretched arms was also a gesture of the early Christians that symbolized liberation - a gesture of being free from the shackles of slavery.
[Source: Sunday Bulletin, St. Paul Roman Catholic Cathedral, Saskatoon, SK, Canada; March 16, 2008]

My thoughts: I honestly never paid much attention to the “Collect” until I started to subscribe to “The Magnificat” and had an opportunity to read the prayer with the priest. It usually is a beautiful short prayer that brings the theme of the upcoming readings to light. More importantly, this is where we present our petitions to God, our intentions for this Mass. We all have great needs in our families, workplaces and in the world in general. Here is where we offer these needs to God and let Him know we are “offering this Mass” for these needs. We learn two more things today: the “Collect” usually ends with the words, “We ask this in the name of Jesus…” or reference to Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Jews had always prayed to God; now Jesus was instructing them to pray through Him and thereby acknowledge Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life in their lives and in their prayers. Also, I never knew the outstretched arms symbolize liberation from slavery! I think when the priest opens his arms he is “in persona Christi “and is opening the heart of God to our petitions, and asking us to open our hearts to the Word of God which will now follow. It is a beautiful gesture in a beautiful prayer.

Collect for December 11, 2012
O God, who have shown forth your salvation to all the ends of the earth, grant, we pray, that we may look forward in joy to the glorious Nativity of Christ, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


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