The Secret Prayers of the Mass: The Priest’s Prayer Before Communion

Do you ever put your preparation for something off until the last minute?  I’ve definitely been one of those people at times.  Sometimes I’m very good about preparing for something, like buying a greeting card for someone weeks before the card is given to them.  But other times, I find myself picking the greeting card up on the way to the destination, and hastily signing it in my car before going in to deliver the card!  (To my loving parents who are no doubt reading this, I would never do that for you…)  So yes, there’s some last minute preparation involved, but it’s good to know that every other priest in the world who celebrates Mass is like me in some way!

The prayers for this week are the “last minute preparations” that the priest prays before communion.  Sometimes we think of these last minute things as being bad, but in this case, the content of the prayers is wonderful!

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the living God,

who by the will of the Father

and the work of the Holy Spirit,

through your Death gave life to the world,

free me by this, your most Holy Body and Blood,

from all my sins and from every evil;

keep me always faithful to your commandments,

and never let me be parted from you.

May the receiving of your Body and Blood,

Lord Jesus Christ,

not bring me to judgment and condemnation,

but through your loving mercy

be for me protection in mind and body

and a healing remedy.

The first version of the prayer especially focuses on true freedom – the freedom from sin, the freedom to be able to do what we ought, and the freedom to be able to love.  When we’re really free, the commandments and rules no longer seem to shackle us, but become a joy.  Parts of this prayer even remind me of the words of Jesus: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

It’s real freedom that allows us to receive Holy Communion worthily, in a state of grace.  Sometimes people are turned off by this teaching, or think that it excludes people.  But really, it’s a teaching that’s sole purpose is to help people reach greater unity!  The Eucharist calls us to communion, and that communion comes when we are free to enter into that relationship with God.  But if we’re living our lives contrary to that relationship in a grave or serious way, we’re not really open to communion, and if you think about it, represent quite the opposite.

It’s important to seek out that freedom that these prayers call to our attention, most especially through the Sacrament of Confession (or Penance, or Reconciliation – whatever the kids are calling it these days!), which at All Saints is on Tuesday and Saturday evenings.  When we humble ourselves, and try to reorder our lives to the love of God and his commandments, we allow ourselves to enter into that communion with God, and we pray for the grace never to be parted from him!

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