Venerable Bruno Lanteri recommends these sentiments in his Spiritual Directory, “At the Collect, that of an ambassador.”
Background: Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Tridentine Mass)
Because Venerable Bruno wrote his preparation for the Tridentine Mass, it would be good to see what is going on at this point in the extraordinary form of the Mass.
After the Gloria, the priest turns to the people and say, “The Lord be with you.” The people respond, “And with your spirit.” He turns to the Missal, says, “Let us pray,” and recites the Collect.
Lesson: What am I praying for?
Before my deeper conversion to the Faith, Mass was a habit that I needed to check off every Sunday. The general intercessions seem to cover what I needed. That silent time for my own intention was enough for a quick prayer for family or friends.
But how many concerns and worries at home and work were troubling me? How about my friends and family with their own concerns and worries? How many times people had asked for prayers and I said that I would pray for them, but I never got around to it?
Others were better than I in donating a few dollars to the Church to have a Mass said for a loved one. But how often do we no longer think of our Mass request? One and done, right?
At Mass, what was really the most pressing need in our hearts? Shouldn’t we have brought that to God?
God the Father lovingly wants to listen to our hopes, needs, worries and desires, no matter how many times. Just a crazy thought. Maybe He wants to do something about it because he loves you.
Venerable Bruno Lanteri recommends that at the Collect, we have the sentiments of an ambassador.
Let’s first focus on the ambassador. Venerable Bruno Lanteri bases that on 2 Corinthians 5:20: “So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
An ambassador represents a country, travels to another country, makes & receives requests, resolves conflicts, and builds a relationship with the powers in that country.
A priest in persona Christi acts like an ambassador in bringing our prayers to God the Father. But through our Baptism, we are also ambassadors, first for ourselves, but also for those family and friends who are not at Mass. Some may be sick. Others have fallen away from the faith. We bring our prayers and their prayers to God.
Next, let’s focus on the Collect. At that moment, the priest is bringing our intentions to God. The Latin-English Booklet Missal for Praying the Traditional Mass says, ” ‘The Collects’ mean the collected prayers of all the faithful assisting at the Holy Sacrifice.” Those prayers are focused into an eloquent prayer to God the Father. Even if a collect is dedicated for a saint, the prayer still expresses our biggest hopes, dreams and prayers.
For example, check out the collect for St. Benedict on July 11:
“O God, who made the Abbot Saint Benedict an outstanding master in the school of divine service, grant, we pray, that, putting nothing before love of you, we may hasten with a loving heart in the way of your commands. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”
The phrase “we may hasten with a loving heart in the way of your commands” captures the Church’s desire to live the Christian life with love. The Christian life also entails sharing our hopes, dreams, worries and desires with God the Father.
The Collect points to a bigger reality. The Mass is the highest form of prayer we can all participate in. Heaven and earth meet at the altar. A guaranteed gateway to the divine. And we have nothing to ask of God?
Next time, before or while going to Church, form your intention to God. When the priest says, “Let us pray,” there will be a pause long enough to call to mind your intention. If you have multiple intentions, give the most pressing to God at the Collect. Save the rest for the general intercessions.
May your appreciation for the Mass deepen.
Passages for prayer:
- 2 Corinthians 5:20: “So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
- Collect of the day: See how the collect is addressing your needs to God.
- What are your current needs and problems?
- How often do you pray for someone when that person asks for your prayers? What small steps can you do to pray for someone?
- What is Jesus inviting you to pray for?