Missa – Oremus
The conclusion of the Liturgy of the Word comes with the Prayer of the Faithful, also known as the General Intercession. While still standing, after reciting the Creed, the church awaits the lector who will speak the prayers being offered, and upon the completion of each, the person reading will say “Let us pray.” (oremus), to which the congregation will respond by saying “Lord, hear our prayer.”
This is another great example of the catholic faith being a common faith. It is not just about the Pope or the priest; not about super sermons, or super star preachers. It is a faith about the people who are all participants in this gathering, a “priesthood of believers”. We all intercede, we all are praying, and while not all are presiding or reading at the mass, the truth is that we are all one body with a common goal. The mass is all about participation.
The prayers, as the name implies, are general. We pray for our pope, and bishop; for the church universal. We pray for our country, for the military and all who defend and lay down their lives for others. We pray for those who are sick, those who are in need, those who have departed this life. We pray for those current events of concern. And at the end is a moment when we can offer our own silent requests and petitions, to which again we all respond: “Lord, hear our prayer.”
At the end the celebrant speaks the concluding prayer and again we all respond. Sometimes this prayer is sung, and at certain masses even the command and response “Let us pray.” and “Lord, hear our prayer” are sung of chanted.
Now the church takes a seat as one liturgy closes and another prepares to begin. We are now beginning the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which used to be called the Liturgy of the Faithful. This followed the Liturgy of the Catechumens as it was called, and as such the catechumens would depart at this time to discuss the word. This continues today in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). So at certain masses additional prayers may be said at the conclusion of the Liturgy of the Word for those preparing to come into full communion with the church. Then they will depart with their sponsors to “break open the Word”, and discuss the readings and homily as they prepare for baptism.