In my last little morceau I mentioned that the Collect (Opening Prayer) at Mass on weekdays, feast days, and special occasions can and should highlight a particular idea that’s more fully developed in that Mass. But I’ve been asked why that’s not generally true on Sundays. Maybe you’ve noticed that on Sundays in “Ordinary Time” the Collects are more general, and don’t “tie in” to the Scripture readings of the day.
The reason is that the Church understands its liturgy as being more than a reflection of our feelings. It is an action of Christ Himself, and in a mystical way it is a “foretaste of that heavenly liturgy” which is perfect and complete, and in which we hope to take part one day. Thus the intentions and prayer texts which have developed at Mass over the centuries are broader in scope than, say, the ideas which seem relevant on just one day, for just one community. Most of these Collects are ancient prayers, expressing truths and yearnings which are timeless.
Frankly one of the strengths of the Catholic Church’s living out of the Christian life is its insistence that the faith is bigger than our individual preferences. (This is an idea that will come up again when in a few weeks we discuss the Church’s use of the Bible at Mass.) We don’t just pray for the things we want, we pray for the things we should! We don’t so much “write our own script” as follow the one which Christ, working through His Church over the centuries, has written.