Introductory Rites: The Collect

The Introductory Rites conclude with an opening prayer known as the Collect. It’s an appropriate name for various reasons.

A moment of recollection
The celebrant invites the faithful to pray briefly in silence, and that’s the moment to recollect yourself and focus on the prayer intentions for which you are participating in this Mass. Every Mass is offered for a specific intention or intentions, and since the merits of the celebration of the Eucharist come from Our Lord, the sky is the limit as to how many things we can pray for in Mass: his merits are infinite.

Summing up the character of the day’s liturgical celebration
Collecta in Latin can also refer to a collection or summing up. The Collect summarizes the reason for the liturgy of the day: thanksgiving, penance, Easter, Christmas, a particular saint, a particular need of the Church or the world. In summarizing the main prayer of the celebration it allows us to recollect ourselves and join our hearts and minds fully to the reason for which we’re celebrating.

Uniting our prayer intentions
The moment of the Collect unifies the prayer intentions of everyone present; you could say that a collection is being taken of prayer intentions when the celebrant says, “Let us pray.” We should renew in this moment our desire that God not only considering what we’re asking for in the prayer itself, but also what everyone present is asking for, and for the intentions of the whole Church.

It is also the moment when we unite our prayer intentions to Christ’s. Christ is the mediator who presents our petitions to Our Heavenly Father along with his own; as High Priest he is at the right hand of the Father right now interceding for us. That’s why, with some exceptions, the Collect addresses God the Father and then concludes with, “Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your son…”; it is addressed to God the Father, done through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

Addressing God through the celebrant
The bishop or priest celebrating the Eucharist is the sign of Christ’s presence: he addresses God at the beginning of the Collect on behalf of everyone present. He extends his hands in supplication, and recalls one of the Lord’s great deeds or attributes before making the main petition of the Mass.

By responding “Amen” the faithful are saying, in a manner of speaking, “I second that motion: God is great and what the celebrant is requesting is our petition, not just his. Please consider all our petitions.”

With the concluding “Amen” of the Introductory Rites we’re ready not just to attend the Mass or say the Mass, but to pray the Mass with forgiveness received, glory to God given, and the reason for which we’re participating clearly in heart and mind.

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