This post is part of a series on Getting the Most Out of Mass: tips to best dispose yourself to receive graces available during Mass (this will be specifically about Sunday Mass, but some of these ideas will also apply to daily Mass). We’re in the section on the Introductory Rites.
The priest invites us: “let us pray”, pauses for a brief period of silence, and then prays the prayer out loud.
The congregation responds: “Amen”.
Why the pause?
The priest pauses both for us to recollect that we’re in God’s presence, but also for us to add our own intentions to the Mass. This is the first main spot in the Mass for adding our own prayers to the sacrifice. Depending on the priest, the pause might be longer or shorter.
Next the Priest calls upon the people to pray and everybody, together with the Priest, observes a brief silence so that they may become aware of being in God’s presence and may call to mind their intentions.General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 54.
Why is it called the Collect?
The prayer that the priest prays aloud collects all of our intentions into one prayer.
The response of “Amen” unites the community to the Collect prayer and makes it their own.
The people, joining in this petition, make the prayer their own by means of the acclamation Amen.Ibid.
In the brief silence, between “let us pray” and the priest beginning the prayer, we make ourselves conscious of the fact that we are in God’s presence and we mentally add any petitions to God that we may have in our hearts.
Since this time can be brief, I try to pick one main intention I have for each Mass (or a few main intentions) that I bring to mind and offer to God as we begin Mass. If you have more intentions but the pause is not long enough for you think mentally pray them all, there is time later to add more intentions.
Listen carefully to the words of the prayer1 and truly make it your own with your “Amen.” Don’t just zone out and mindlessly mumble your “Uh-mn” as you sit down (I speak from experience here). Really listening to the prayer and speaking it to God in your heart unites you to the prayer of everyone in the room and opens you up to receieve the graces God wants to give you in this moment.
This is one of the parts of the Mass that are specific to today. See if you can pick out a theme for today’s Mass as you hear this prayer, the readings, and the other parts of the Mass that are specific to today. If you already did that when you read the reading ahead of time, bring this theme to mind and be open to see if God allows you to notice anything new about the theme.
What About You?
- What are some things you have done to more deeply pray the Collect (Opening Prayer) at Mass?
- What are some ways that deeply praying the Collect has helped you Get the Most Out of Mass?
- If you get a Missal, you can read these prayers ahead of time and/or along with the priest, so you can better unite yourself to what is being prayed.