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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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After the Gloria hymn, the priest says to the congregation, “Let us pray.” Too often the celebrant, myself included, speeds immediately to the opening prayer itself.  Ideally, he places his hands together and pauses.  It is during this time that everyone should maintain sacred silence and call to mind all the needs and intentions we bring to the celebration.  Indeed, the name of the opening prayer signifies how the priest “collects” the entire gathered community with all their personal intentions into his prayer that is prescribed by the Church. Congregants should reflect and compose these intentions either before coming to Mass or during a quiet time of preparation before the liturgy begins.  Just as the priest can apply the fruits of the Mass that come to him for others; those in the pews should remember their needs and those for whom they have promised to pray. The Mass is our most effective prayer and should not be neglected in its power to bring grace and healing.  The Mass is not just the sacerdotal work of the priest but belongs to all who join themselves to his prayer and offering of Jesus to the Father.  Our worship has rubrics but it should not be done in a robotic or mindless manner.  While too many people miss Mass, many more in the pews fail to “collect” their thoughts and to appreciate what they are doing. If not announced at Mass, parish bulletins usually publish the various priest-intentions for Masses on Sunday and during the week.  However, the worshipper is not obliged to restrict his prayers to the public intention of the priests. Various fruits or spiritual benefits come to all who conscientiously participate at Mass. Later in the liturgy, particularly in the bidding prayers and the Eucharistic prayer there will again be opportunities to recall our secret petitions and the general intentions for the Church, for the living and for the dead.  

We can mentally bring almost anything to the Mass. When a Catholic tells others that he will pray for them, this applies not just to bedtime prayer but to our dialogue with God at Mass.  Like all prayer, it should come from the heart.  If the love of God brings us to worship him, then it is this same love that spills over in our prayers for family, friends and yes, even enemies.  We pray for the sick and for those who have died.  We pray to discern our vocation.  We pray for employment so as to keep a home and provide for loved ones.  We pray for the Church in general or maybe the local priest in particular.  (This may in part be the antidote to so much calumny in the modern Church.)  The list goes on and on.  Given that there is no limit to the graces available in the Eucharist, a family might even write out a private list to recall when going to Mass.  This does not mean that we can go to Mass once and be done with prayer.  While the graces of the Mass are infinite, our capacity to receive grace is limited by our disposition for divine help.  Just like eating— we need to eat a little each day— not eat a month’s worth of food at one sitting. 

The opening prayers vary from Sunday to Sunday, although there are special prayers for saints, special occasions, particular liturgies as in weddings and funerals, and daily seasonal prayers as during Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.  The Collect regularly gives us the theme of the liturgy. The priest extends his hands and prays.  After the priest has spoken the prayer, the people respond, “Amen.”  They have joined their prayers as one. They have affirmed the prayer of the Church.

Disposition is crucially important if we are to avail ourselves of the riches that come from the liturgy.  Each part is linked to the rest as a whole: Introit or Entrance Son, Sign of the Cross, Greeting, Confiteor, Kyrie, Gloria and Collect. All together the introductory rites have prepared us for the Word of God.

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