A couple of weeks ago at Sunday Mass, one of the intentions for the Prayer of the Faithful went something like this:
"For higher reading scores for our elementary age students. Let us pray to the Lord..."
I have to give credit to whoever wrote this: Hearing that intention woke me from my middle-of-Mass stupor, but for all the wrong reasons. I looked at the person I was with and we both raised our eyebrows with that "Can you believe this?" look only two close friends can share.
Yes, higher reading scores are certainly something we need more of, but is this an issue that deserves a place on the list of the precious few prayer intentions mentioned at Mass? Isn't the Prayer of the Faithful supposed to be reserved for matters of parish-wide or world-wide importance, including the gravely ill and those recently deceased? How did the Prayer of Faithful get to be such a politically-correct airing of good will to all?
Or what about this intention from this week:
"For our world, still wounded by terrorism and war; for all who struggle daily to make peace and to transform the conditions that breed terror and violence. We pray to the Lord..."
A bit better, but it still sounds like it was written by a committee of ecumenical social workers. Let's face it: Terrorism continues to exist because we live in a world that denies the social kingship of Jesus Christ. We live in a world that is in rebellion against the Catholic Church. We have tried detente, the UN, "dialogue" (whatever that means) radical ecumenism and every other human contrivance to obtain world peace and we have failed. This should be no surprise to Catholics, since the Blessed Mother warned us at Fatima in 1917 that our human efforts could not bring about world peace, but only one thing could: Repentance and Conversion. (There's also a little requirement about the pope, bishops and Russia, but we'll leave that for another time).
So if we wanted a more Catholic prayer for ending terrorism and bringing peace to the world, maybe we could compose a prayer like this:
"That all of us in the Catholic Church would have the courage to love our enemies, to fast, pray and do penance for them and deny ourselves with the intention of converting the world to the One True Church of Jesus Christ. Let us pray to the Lord..."
No, you're not going to hear that very soon. As long as Oregon Catholic Press holds the monopoly on liturgical "resources" like providing "relevant" intentions for the Prayer of the Faithful, we'll continue to hear this kind of drivel at Mass:
“For world leaders; that they may put an end to the disastrous effects of manmade global warming. Let us pray to the Lord..."
Sorry, but these kinds of empty-sounding intentions have about as much impact as hearing someone say, "That we can all live happily ever after. Let us pray to the Lord." Full and active participation? This is one part of the Mass where most of us are likely to stay awake only because we are on our feet.
One good thing: Many parishes end the Prayer of the Faithful with something like this:
"And for all the intentions deep in our heart. We pray to the Lord."
That's fine. Because God does hear our prayers, and our prayers are even more forceful when someone prays with us. The congregation may not be praying for the same intentions I have, but at least my Guardian Angel can share my prayer with me. Here's a prayer I include every week:
"That our priests and bishops will find the courage and grace to obey the teaching authority of the Church and the pope."
LET US PRAY TO THE LORD.
LORD, HEAR OUR PRAYER!