Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
THE COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL: FEBRUARY 25th, 2018 A.D. - SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Prayer over the People for the Second Sunday of Lent in the MR’70. This prayer follows immediately upon the PostCommunion Collect and precedes the final blessing. Below is the official ICEL translation of this prayer in the third typical edition of the Roman Missal (2010):
“Bless Your faithful, we pray, O Lord, with a blessing that endures for ever, and keep them faithful to the Gospel of Your Only Begotten Son, so that they may always desire and at last attain that glory whose beauty He showed in his own Body, to the amazement of His Apostles. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Today’s prayer leads us to reflect on the sacramental characters of Baptism and Confirmation. It asks God for a blessing that endures forever. While it is not immediately clear to what this phrase refers, we may argue that it refers to the indelible marks or characters of the two sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. The character of each of these sacraments are “blessings” that cannot be erased, and so, they endure forever (note: sacramental character endures even in hell, but the damned experience it there as a curse, not a blessing). We may read further about the sacramental character of each of these sacraments in Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 1272-1274, 1295-1296, 1303-1305.
Today’s Gospel of the Transfiguration (a traditional Gospel for this day), presents a unique revelation, a theophany, of the Most Holy Trinity, and so, it is truly a liturgy in its own right. In Baptism, we are invited to participate in this unending liturgy offered by Christ to the Father. God makes us His adopted children in Christ (cf. Jn. 1:12-13), and thereby, He “consecrates” us for divine worship, to use the language of the Catechism. In essence, then, the prayer asks God to strengthen this indelible character of Baptism, this eternal blessing of being made fit to worship Him “in spirit and truth” (cf. Jn. 4:23-24, RSV)
The foreseen result of this eternal blessing, that is, this strengthening in the indelible sacramental characters of Baptism and Confirmation, is the increased desire for the glory of the Risen Christ now (i.e., in the Blessed Sacrament), as well as the attainment of His glory (i.e., in heaven). We see, then, that our prayer envisions an essential link between Baptism and Confirmation, on the one hand, and the Eucharist and heaven, on the other. Christian Initiation culminates in the Eucharistic feast, which is simultaneously earthly and heavenly, temporal and eternal.
Baptism and Confirmation, therefore, are not frozen events of the past. Rather, the indelible characters of each Sacrament are richly dynamic. These two Sacraments have constant reference to the glory of the Risen Christ, and they move us towards His Real Presence in the Eucharist now, and to the Beatific Vision of heaven. This thesis holds when we consider the placement of this prayer within the Mass: it comes after the reception of Christ’s glorious Body in Holy Communion- the same Body that was transfigured on Mt. Tabor, the reception of which, Jesus promised would lead us to eternal life (cf. Jn. 6:51)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.