For some weeks now in these morceaux I have been going through the Mass and most recently its initial rituals, pointing out its principal elements. At the same time, I have been highlighting not only the “what” but the “why.” One of the differences between the sin of superstition and the virtuous embrace of faith is the believer’s conscious attempt to understand the significance of his or her actions.
The last of the “introductory rites” of the Mass is the Collect. This is the traditional name of the Opening Prayer, for the priest is supposed to insist on a moment of silence before he prays the prayer aloud. During this time he and everyone else in the assembly “collect” their thoughts and intentions. Then we join our hearts and minds to whatever’s the subject-matter of the prayer. Or at least that’s what we’re supposed to be doing!
On weekdays, feast days, and at special Masses (like funerals and for the celebration of other sacraments or other significant occasions) the Collect can highlight a specific theme. In fact the liturgical norms of the Church encourage this. Often an idea that’s going to be exposed in the Bible readings or homily at that Mass will be the focus of the Collect.