In mid-second century Rome, a saint describes the celebration of Baptism and then adds that all “offer prayers in common for ourselves, for him who had just been enlightened and for people everywhere” (Justin, Martyr). Justin goes on to describe the Eucharist which followed. A remnant of the ancient form of this prayer at Rome is found in the Solemn Prayers of Good Friday. Though this was dropped for centuries it was restored at the Second Vatican Council.
Since the Church is both local and universal at least one intention is usually taken from each of the following categories:
1. the needs of the Church
2. public authorities and the salvation of the world
3. those oppressed by any need
4. the local community
General Instruction of the Roman Missal (The Church’s Textbook)
47. The priest directs the prayer: with a brief introduction he invites the people to pray: after the intentions he says the concluding prayer. It is desirable that the intentions be announced by the deacon, cantor, or other persons. The Congregation makes its petition either by a common response after each intention or by silent prayer. Then the priest summarizes the petitions with a prayer to God the Father.
The general intercessions are an integral part of the liturgy. Having heard the word, the assembled people respond to it and “exercise their priestly function by interceding for all humankind” (GI no. 45). The entire people of God form “a royal priesthood”(1 Peter 2:9) who, in union with Christ and under the presidency of the priest, make “petitions, prayers, intercessions … for all (1 Timothy 2:1)
Questions for Reflection:
1. How do I join my own prayers/petitions to those of the Church?
2. Do I carry these prayer intentions with me during the week especially those mentioned by name?
Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:1
The General Intecessions of the Roman Missal ( The Church’s Textbook)