Missa – Collecta
The Introductory Rites of the Catholic Mass end with a call to prayer. The priest says: “Let us pray” (Latin “Oremus”), inviting all the faithful participating in the Liturgy to follow along with the prayers to be spoken, and all will respond with an “Amen” upon completion. This call to pray will show up several times throughout the mass and in this first instance the it is called the Collect, which refers to the gathering of people together to pray. (collective)
The Prayers will vary depending on the day or season and will help to set the stage for the focus of the particular day which the mass is being said, and there will often be variations to choose from. The Collect is part of the “Proper” which means that unlike those parts of the mass which are “Ordinary”, it will tend to vary according to the day or season. As the priest says the prayer he will stand with his hands raised in what is called the “orans”, which is translated as “praying”. It is a posture of praying which goes back to the Jewish religion and can be seen in christian art from ancient times.
A collect may also call us to reflect on a particular saint and what they did in their life as they followed the Saviour. For instance a typical Collect would go like this:
By your help, we beseech you, Lord our God,
may we walk eagerly in that same charity
with which, out of love for the world,
your Son handed himself over to death.
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.
However if the mass were on a particular Saints Day the Collect may go something like this:
who in your providence chose your servant Patrick
to be the apostle of the Irish people,
to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error
to the true light and knowledge of you:
Grant us so to walk in that light,
that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and ever.
The Collect ends the Introductory Rites of the Mass. To this point the congregation has been standing and only several minutes have passed. It is interesting to me that so much has been accomplished in so little time. Images of Christ entering Jerusalem, and carrying His Cross, prayers of repentance, and praise which because of recitation have infused us with theology and thoughts for contemplation. As we all say “Amen.” at the conclusion of the Collect, the congregation will now take a seat as the Mass continues into the first of its major parts; the Liturgy of the Word.