When the sacrament of baptism is received, a personal relationship is set up between the person newly initiated and God. Often overlooked is the other relationship which is that of the family of faith— a bond between the baptized and with God. For want of a better description, the union between Christ (the head of our family) and the various members baptized or “born again” is referred to as the “mystical” body. We do not know the “how” of this union, only the fact that it exists. There are many members of the body, but one head who is Christ. This union is surely brought to our attention when we gather for the Eucharist. We all have the same last name, Christian. We all eat at the same table— we are family. We all have the same share in the life of Christ within us. This union is brought out clearly in the Prayer of the Faithful after the homily at Mass. We pray then as a family. Some of the petitions may not be on the top of our personal list of concerns, but it is the prayer of all the faithful. There is a structure to the Prayer of the Faithful. We pray for the Church, visible and invisible, for the Church’s teaching authority, the Vicar of Christ, the Pope. We pray for those oppressed by various needs (present and absent). Hence, we pray for victims of floods and earthquakes, the poor, and in short, for all our brothers and sisters in Christ. We pray for the needs of the sick. We pray for the deceased and for the salvation of the whole world. This is our family prayer. At each petition, the gathered faithful respond and pray for all. The response is either recited or sometimes even sung. However, it should never be said just perfunctorily or mumbled by rote. The response should be said in an emphatic way, demonstrating that we are conscious of who we are and of what we are doing in union with Christ, the great intercessor for his body, the Church. We can pray for the local community (parish) with specific intentions about the needs and work of our parish family.
Filed under: Awalt Papers