David's Dialogues

Fr. David Colhour, C.P.Continuing our reflections on different segments of our faith, we come now to the Prayers of the Faithful. Let us begin with what our friend Justin Martyr wrote in the second century. He comments that after the president verbally instructs us to t he imitation of these good things, (the homily) “Then we all rise together and pray.” The placement of th e Prayers of the Faithful is strategically located. N otice we don’t start with these prayers at the beginning of the Liturgy. We first must take time to praise God and listen to God’s word. I suspect if we truly tak e time to listen to God’s word, then by the time we pray the prayers of the faithful we are needing to realign our personal prayers or even to reprioritiz e what we thought was important with what we now believe is important based on the word of God we just heard.

The nature of the Prayers of the Faithful is that t hey have to be generic enough that they can encapsulate the needs of people, and yet specific enough that w e find meaning in them. In smaller assemblies it is common for the presider to allow anyone to voice their prayers. Frequently these turn into public service announcements which may include medical histories and doctor appointments when a much more inclusive prayer could be, “We pray for Uncle John and all who are having surgery today.”

The Church does specify an order: The order is: We pray for the needs of the Church, for public authorities, for the salvation of the whole world, for those burdened by any kind of difficulty, for the needs of the local community, and lastly the deceased. While it is the responsibility of the presider to introduce these prayers and to draw them to a close , it is recommended that the one reading them be “the Deacon, a cantor, a reader or one of the lay faithf ul.” It has taken some time for us to reflect on the Liturgy of the Word. Next week we’ll begin the Liturgy of the Eucharist.