Almighty and merciful God,
graciously keep from us all adversity,
so that, unhindered in mind and body alike,
we may pursue in freedom of heart
the things that are yours.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Many of the collects follow a pattern similar to this week’s; they ask for some natural good in order that a supernatural one might be attained. This collect starts by asking that we be kept free from adversity. But, why should we be kept free from adversity? Certainly not to go on sinning or seeking purely human ends. I am reminded of a child who asks his parents for some money. Assuming the parents just don’t say “no,” they ask the child why he wants the money or what will he do with it. The same is true in our prayers; it is vain for us to pray for things which don’t build up ourselves or others in grace. At this point I should mention that many things, if only indirectly, can build up people in grace. In the case of this collect, we ask to be free of adversity in order to seek divine goods.
This collect also stirs in my mind the issue of religious liberty. Without religious liberty a person is not free to pursue divine goals. This does not mean that a person is completely prevented from pleasing God. But, without religious liberty it becomes more difficult to please God because of the stumbling blocks intentionally set up by governments. External coercion is a stumbling block because it deprives a person of freedom of heart.
Prayer over the Offerings:
Look with favor, we pray, O Lord,
upon the sacrificial gifts offered here,
that, celebrating in mystery the Passion of your Son, we may honor it with loving devotion.
Through Christ our Lord.
One best accolades that I hear in eulogies is for the deceased to be described as devoted. Typically, this devotion falls into two categories: family and/or faith. Both are good. But, we cannot picture a person as being devoted to God without also being devoted to their families.
This prayer uses the wonderful phrase “loving devotion” (afféctu in Latin). True devotion cannot exist without love. The affection which we should have for Our Lord’s Passion gives rise to our hope and the worship we offer to God. When we become lovingly devoted to Our Lord’s Passion, we can begin to find our joy in the Mass.
Prayer after Communion:
Nourished by this sacred gift, O Lord,
we give you thanks and beseech your mercy, that, by the pouring forth of your Spirit,
the grace of integrity may endure
in those your heavenly power has entered. Through Christ our Lord.
When St Paul tells us that the flesh wars against the spirit (Galatians 5:17), he calls attention our own fallen nature, a result of original sin. Without grace, no person can have perfect integrity. Integrity refers to the wholeness of a person who always thinks and acts in accordance with what is true. Integrity disintegrates with every sin. Every sin, willingly committed, prepares a person to commit more sins (think of the pattern of addiction). In order to break out of this spiral, a person needs grace. Grace perfects and uplifts the nature of a person so that he can continue to live and grow in God’s friendship or be restored to it. The nourishment, of which this prayer speaks, is the Holy Eucharist.
This is the third post in the weekly series, “Euchology Notes.”