Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What conscience dreads and what prayer does not dare to ask

The priest is given much freedom in selecting the prayers for the weekday Masses. He can repeat the prayers from the previous Sunday or choose prayers from any of the Sundays in Ordinary Time, or even celebrate a Votive Mass.

I tend to repeat the prayers of the preceding Sunday. In this way, the Sunday Mass is somehow extended throughout the week, and the prayers sink deeper into the heart as they are repeated.

This week's Collect might seem a bit of a mouthful but what it expresses is truly profound:
Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
This prayer is one of true release. There are probably dark areas in all our consciences that we would rather not open up. Yet in prayer, before God, we need have no fear. We may dread to face up to things - sometimes great things, more often the small embarrassing things - but we may be confident in the Lord as he pours forth his mercy upon us.

What might we not dare ask for in prayer? All sorts of things. But perhaps, also, for the grace to truly respond to God's call to discipleship, to abandon whatever holds us back, to say "Yes" even though we may doubt our ability. Or perhaps we fear to embrace the Lord's will fully. With the Lord's mercy, all things are possible.

The Prayer after Communion is similarly beautiful:
Grant us, almighty God,
that we may be refreshed and nourished
by the Sacrament which we have received,
so as to be transformed into what we consume.
It is this "divinization" that is made possible by the Incarnation. The Divine Food that we eat at Communion is not changed into us. We are changed into It. We truly are invited to become what we eat.

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