The absolutely last part of the Liturgy of the Word (the first part of Mass) is something we usually call the “Prayer of the Faithful.” Also called the “Universal Prayer” and sometimes called the “General Intercessions,” this is one point where each congregation can focus its prayer intentions in a way unique to its circumstances.
That’s right. The intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful are not “scripted” by the Church: in theory each individual congregation will compose its own unique prayer petitions for each Mass. There are some broad guidelines: at every Mass the congregation is to pray during this time in some way for our own Church leaders and members, for civil society, for those who are in need, and for those who have died. So as a general rule there will be at least four petitions!
But you will really know that the liturgy has been well-prepared when the Prayer of the Faithful includes a few more petitions, and in particular ones focused on timely issues. Usually these intentions ought to be composed with one eye on that day’s Scriptures and the other eye on the daily newspaper. In this way the most pressing issues for the community can be “lifted up to God” in prayer by all of us together, with the imagery and vocabulary of God’s own Word framing them. Sadly, this is often a tragic focus, as we beg God to console or forgive His people for something that’s gone wrong in our modern society. But our intentions can – and should – also be prayers of thankfulness, of hope, and of praise.