This is something I’ve seen at Protestant and Episcopal worship and we’ve recently introduced to our weekly ecumenical Midday Prayer (based on the Office) at Saint John’s grad School of Theology and Seminary. The members of the assembly are invited to voice out loud their petitions for a particular intention.
It works like this. The presider says something introductory to call us to prayer, noting briefly that all are invited to voice their prayers aloud. (The wording has to be worked out ahead of time). Then each petition is worded something like this:
“For all with a ministry in the church, whose names we now say out loud, for the spirit’s strength and support for them.”
Then during the pause people say aloud, all at the same time, loudly or softly, those for whom they wish to prayer – Pope Francis, one’s home pastor, lay ministers in Campus Ministry, RCIA sponsors, and so forth.
Catholics (the vast majority in our grad school) tend to be a bit more passive and reserved than Protestants, in my experience. It did not come naturally to our community members to be brave and speak up. We had a few ringers, the first couple times, ready to speak intentions to get it going. The response, already from the first time, has been positive. It has drawn people into earnest prayer.
Sometimes we have, after the spoken invitation and community’s speak-up, a sung intercession – a short Taize refrain, the tri-lingual setting by Michael Hay, etc. One must take care that the sung response isn’t too long, or the intercessions take forever.
Sometimes there is soft music during the spoken invitation and community’s response, leading into the sung response. This has been well-received and set up a nice, prayerful atmosphere – although one monk was a bit concerned about sentimentality and ‘mood music.’
Sometimes a response is sung only at the beginning and at the end. This too has flowed well.
What do you think – could something like this be done with smaller congregations at daily Mass, perhaps without the singing? Or could it be done at large Sunday Masses?