Source and Summit #6 – The homily, the Profession of faith
and the Universal prayer
My dear listeners!
After reading the Gospel we usually sit down. If the Gospel is read from the book of the Gospels like this one from this chapel, a priest or a deacon carry the book to the special place. When the book is carried we all sit and a homily or a sermon begins.
During homily the priest refers to God’s word which was read and he tries to explain it. The homily is a very hearty speech. This explanation of God’s words should be said with love. It is good when a priest preaches in such a way to the people.
The sermon can be about different things. For example, we can have some patriotic event to refer to. We should explain God’s word and invite people to read it on their own. After the homily or the sermon, there is a moment of silence. Notice that during the Holy Mass we stay in silence a few times. But it is not just a silence. It is the sacred silence and a very needed silence. We remain seated after the homily so we can let the word we heard reach to the depths of our hearts, our heads and our souls. Ask yourself a question: Lord Jesus, what did you tell me? What would I take out from this sacred place? What would I bring to my family, neighbourhood and job?
After this moment of silence, we all stand up and profess our faith – the faith in One God, the Father Almighty, the faith in Jesus Christ the Savior of the world, the faith in the Holy Spirit, the faith in the Holy Church who teaches us, who really serves our lives. Some joke that the profession is necessary when a priest wasn’t prepared for the homily: “Yes, after that homily we really need to profess our faith, nothing else is left!”. I hope we do not think like that but are only joking! Why do we profess our faith? It is a very important moment of professing our faith consciously. Notice that during Sunday’s Mass we solemnly profess our faith with awareness, love and with confidence that it helps us.
After the profession there is another important prayer – the Prayer of the Faithful or the Universal Prayer. It is a call for us to say in front of the community, in front of God, our petitions, intentions, our calls. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal shows the group of intentions we should pray for. At the beginning we should pray for the Holy Church, then for public matters, for all world. Next GIRM asks to pray for the people in need, who are in difficult or even tragic life situation. We know that there are a lot of people in need. The fourth group of intentions is a prayer for all gathered in this church to bear fruit in their lives. I want to stress one important thing. It is a priest celebrant who introduces and concludes the Universal Prayer. Not a co-celebrant. The main celebrant acts in persona Christi – he represents Christ and in his name he prays to the Father.
It is good to prepare for this prayer. We know what is happening in the world, in our country, in our parish. The Polish bishops in Instruction from 2005, decided not to prepare more than 6 intentions. The Church is wise in proposing that. We often want to stand and speak, and ask… but it is not a good moment to say too many intentions. It is good to stay on those 6 intentions. Sometimes, during huge ceremonies we can add another one but I want to stress that 6 are enough. What is more, it is a kind of invitation for all the community to pray exactly for those intentions. This is the end of the Liturgy of the Word. In the next episodes we will talk about other parts of the Holy Mass.