Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies


For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Collect for the optional memorial of Pope Saint John Paul II, celebrated on October 22, the anniversary of his installation as pope in 1978. Below is the day's Collect in the third typical edition of the Roman Missal (2010):

"O God, who are rich in mercy and who willed that the blessed John Paul the Second should preside as Pope over Your universal Church, grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind. Who lives and reigns. Amen."

One of the joys of Christian life is that of knowing and remembering contemporary saints. Most of those reading this column will have vivid recollections of Pope Saint John Paul II both in life and at his death. Even though I was still an Anglican in 2005, I vividly recall watching the last days and the funeral of John Paul II (as well as Benedict's XVI's election) and feeling a distinctly strong pull towards the Petrine Office as the orienting center of Christendom. For a brief moment, all of it trumped my "difficulties" with Catholicism, in the words of Bl. John Henry Newman (until they were finally settled in 2009, thanks be to God!). God bestowed many graces on many people in the events of those days.  

Our Collect is particularly wonderful in making explicit reference to three seminal ideas of our Saint's papal magisterium, two of which are encyclical titles: 1) that God is rich in mercy (Dives in misericordia), 2) that every human person is called to open the doors of their lives to Christ (from his homily at his installation as pope), and 3) that Christ is the sole redeemer of mankind (Redemptor hominis). These themes have defined modern papal magisterium, for we find them in the teaching of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

We do well to observe what our Collect's motive clause recommends, namely, that we be instructed by Pope St. John Paul II's teaching. Indeed, his encyclicals and many other forms of teaching have not lost any of their ability to speak powerfully to our present situation. To be instructed by papal magisterium necessarily implies a desire on our part to be taught and to learn. This also demands that we actually sit and read the primary source, and do so with love and humility. We may extend this principle to any form of official papal teaching or exercise of ordinary magisterium. We must have the humility and the desire to learn.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Code of Canon Law both instruct us to read and receive papal documents "with docility" and "religious submission of the intellect and will" (CCC nos. 87, 2037, CIC no. 752). How faithful are we to this injunction? I am astonished at the fact that so many Catholics don't even know what they don't know, simply because they do not read papal magisterium, which is addressed not only to theologians, but to all the faithful for their edification and growth in the knowledge of the truth. I promise you: read papal documents with faith, humility, and love, and you will be surprised at the wonderful things you learn. Let us strive, in the words of our Collect, to "open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ," when we read the words of the popes, past and present. 


(David Allen)

Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.


About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

Privacy Policy
Return Policy

Christian Life

"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
- St. Therese of Lisieux (+1897)

Contact Us