FOLLOWING last month’s article about intercession I would like to thank all those readers who responded with suggestions and advice about lists. I am presently working my way through them!
Every month I am privileged to celebrate the Eucharist at the Convent of the Holy Cross at Rempstone. On the altar there is placed a list of names for prayer, and as part of the work and offering of intercession, as a sister prays the prayers of the people, she includes the petition ‘we pray for those whose names are on the altar?
This reminds me of a vital part of the prayer of intercession. We must never forget that our prayer of intercession is one with the prayer of Jesus ‘who ever lives to make intercession for us’. In the Eucharist our prayer becomes one with his offering. The Eucharist is in its essence the place for intercession.
I was taught as a boy never to come to the Eucharist alone. I was wisely guided to see that my partaking of Holy Communion was not in itself an action that was self-centred. It is from ‘first to last the work of Christ’. Eucharistic worship takes on a deep and powerful meaning when it is seen as an act of intercession. It is silence and action through which to relate to the Heavenly Father. There is not one of these ‘movements’ than is not a vehicle for intercession.
If we reflect on our crucified Lord’s intercession, we see that he expressed penitential prayer for others: ‘Father, forgive them for they not what they do!’ Likewise he expressed thanks on behalf of others, an expression of gratitude for the blessings received by others:
‘I thank you, Father, that you have revealed yourself to these children.’ Intercession should not hang only on the hook of pain. Intercession should also spring from the shared joy, or a sense of wrong not felt and realized.
I have started with lists and have ended up with life. When St Paul entreats us to ‘pray without ceasing’, he is hoping that we shall realize that the whole life of being ‘in Christ’ is one of intercession. A life that recognizes that all needs and all gifts find their end and meaning in him. That is why he is our food and drink. That is why we place all our needs upon his table.
quite wrong to view it as a ‘me and God experience’. The Eucharist centres on the Father and the reconciliation and renewal of his beloved creation.
The Eucharist, being the source and centre of Christian life and ministry, underlines one fact of our life of faith. Our faith is a gift given not for our benefit, but for the benefit of those for whom we are given grace to be intercessors.
Each of us can play a unique and unrepeatable part in the work of Christ through the offering of our daily life and experience. This is true whether we are thankful or penitential; even when we are infuriated and cross with someone God has made us intercessors for them! The whole of our life is a call to be spent for others.
The Eucharist carries us from penitence through intercession to thanksgiving to adoration. It gives us words,
Andy Hawes is parish priest of Edenham, Witham on the Hill and Swinstead and Director of the Edenham Regional House in the Diocese of Lincoln