Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
THE COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL: FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY, JANUARY 15th, A.D. 2017
For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the principal Collect for the Feast of the Holy Family (MR 1962). In the Extraordinary Form, this Feast is celebrated on the First Sunday after Epiphany (i.e., last week). In the Ordinary Form, the Holy Family is celebrated either on the Sunday after Christmas, or, in the case of this year, on December 30th (the Sunday after Christmas this year was Jan. 1, the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, which is an immovable Solemnity). We will treat the remaining Collects (Secret and Post-Communion) for this feast the next two weeks. As we continue to bask in the glow of Christmastide, it seems most fitting to meditate on the love of the Holy Family. Below is the unofficial translation provided in the Angelus Press edition of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal:
"O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, being subject to Mary and Joseph, didst sanctify home life with ineffable virtues: grant that, with the aid of both, we may be taught by the example of Thy Holy Family, and attain to eternal fellowship with them. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen."
Broken down into its five-part structure, the Collect looks like this:
1. O Lord Jesus Christ (address to Christ, which is unusual, as Collects normally address the Father),
2. Who, being subject to Mary and Joseph, didst sanctify home life with ineffable virtues (a double acclamation of Christ),
3. grant that we may be taught by the example of Thy Holy Family (petition),
4a. with the aid of both (motive for the petition),
4b. and attain eternal fellowship with them (while one may argue that this is a secondary petition, it is essentially the hoped-for outcome of the first petition)
5. Who livest and reignest, etc. (concluding doxological formula).
Re-fashioned into a syllogism, we may interpret the Collect like this:
A) If Christ made ordinary family life holy by infusing it with virtues through submission to Mary and Joseph,
B) And if we submit to the aid and teaching of Mary and Joseph, striving as much as we can to make our homes like theirs in Nazareth,
C) Then we may hope to attain fellowship with them in the eternal home of heaven.
This Collect links each Christian home (what Tradition immemorial calls the "Domestic Church") to the Universal Church, by way of the personal protection of the Holy Family. Just as Mary and Joseph cared for Christ on earth, so too, even now, they exercise a unique solicitude and protection over his Mystical Body on earth, guiding and providing for all the faithful on their pilgrimage to heaven. How often then should we seek their intercession in all of the daily aspects of life! Indeed, what an awesome consolation that they are so prompt and so fit to help us shoulder our daily crosses!
Perhaps the most important thing we learn in this Collect, however, is the humility of Our Lord. The Son of God was obedient to His mother and His foster-father, both of whom he had created. If Christ stooped to this level of docility to two of His creatures (albeit, His two most excellent creatures), who are we to rebel against the commandments of Our Heavenly Father?
Indeed, Jesus shows us that humility is possible, and even desirable in domestic life, for it creates an atmosphere harmony and peace (a foretaste of heaven). Such humility is motivated by the love of God and is ordered to that same love. If we live this way now (which is certainly no cake walk, hence the need for grace), we will be well on our way to heaven. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph show us the way, and they likewise give us the grace we need to live and love as they do.
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.