Deo gratias, white vestments! My parish priest, being a wise pastor, celebrated a Mass to-day "For the Church", using the first of the formularies in the section of the Missal rather clumsily referred to as "Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions" – I give the orations below, and note for the moment (do not fear, gentle reader) that he used, as seemed appropriate, the Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs IV (to quibble, the rubrics suggest that perhaps variant I or II would have been more apposite) – this Prayer, as all men know, was originally drawn up in Switzerland, but was revised to make it more explicitly orthodox when done into Latin, and the new translation reflects this; and its peculiarity is that it exists in four variants, the variants being the four Prefaces alone appointed for use with it, matched with four intercessory passages that slot into the body of the Prayer.
1. For the Church
O God, who in your wonderful providence decreed that Christ's Kingdom should be extended throughout the earth and that all should become partakers of his saving redemption, grant, we pray, that your Church may be the universal sacrament of salvation and that Christ may be revealed to all as the hope of the nations and their Saviour. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Prayer over the Offerings
Look upon the offerings of the people consecrated to you, O merciful God, and, through the power of this Sacrament, grant that the multitude of those who believe in you may constantly be made a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of your own. Through Christ our Lord.
Prayer after Communion
O God, who constantly feed and strengthen the Church with your Sacraments, grant to us, who have been nourished at the heavenly table, that, by obeying your teachings of love, we may become for the human family a life-giving leaven and a means to salvation. Through Christ our Lord.
"Universal sacrament of salvation" - that is what Christ's Body, the Church, is: for it is His living instrument for applying the merits of His Passion to men, empowered by His grace, being the vehicle for the celebration of the sacraments that save and the preaching of His Gospel, moving all to believe and be saved. "[A] chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of your own" – marvellous are the words of I Peter ii, 9! I particularly like the reference in the Prayer after Communion to the faithful acting as leaven in the lump, acting as God's instruments for translating men from the massa damnata into the company of the elect.