Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2018, A.D.: EASTER SUNDAY
For today’s meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the principal Collect for the morning Mass of Easter Day in the MR’62. Below is my own translation from the Latin original:
“God, who this day have unlocked the gate of eternity for us through Your only begotten Son, with death having been conquered: by Your help, may You also accompany our prayers, which You breathe by Your anticipation. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”
This Collect is a fine example of the Church’s living engagement with the content of the deposit of faith. Christ’s Death and Resurrection have enabled us to get to heaven, and have made us fit to worship Him.
At the Easter Vigil, the Sacrament of Baptism transforms Catechumens into Neophytes (literally, “new souls”), and equips them to participate fully in their very first Eucharist. Non-baptized people are fundamentally incapable of offering fitting worship to God because of Original Sin. Man needs communion with Christ, who alone offers perfect worship to the Father in the Spirit (cf. Jn. 3:3-7, 4:10, 14, 23-24; this is essentially the message of the entire Epistle to the Hebrews). The Sacrament of Baptism both cleanses man from Original Sin, and consecrates him so that he may offer himself as a living sacrifice to God through, with, and in Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, by the action of Spirit (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 1263, 1265-66, 1272-73, 1361, 1368; Rom. 5:1-6:11, 12;1; Benedict XVI, Saint Paul, pp. 103- 110).
The Collect’s ascription clause summarizes Christ’s work. His Death has already destroyed death and atoned for our sins. In itself, the Crucifixion constitutes the perfect sacrifice of worship, summing up and infinitely “surpass[ing]” all other acts of worship (cf. Heb. 7:27, 9:26; Catechism nos. 614, 1330, 1350). It is Christ’s Resurrection, however, which the Collect links especially to our ability to worship God in the present, providing the solid basis for our petition. It is the complete transformation of Christ’s Sacred Humanity through bodily resurrection which effects this new and eternal liturgy in which man can now participate by grace (cf. Heb. 4:14-5:10, 7:24-25, 10:19-25; Catechism no. 654).
The Collect’s petition assumes that those assembled already participate in the life of the Spirit through Baptism. Note, in particular, the phrase “vota nostra quae preveniendo aspiras” or “our prayers which You breathe by Your anticipation/guidance.” This phrase in the petition evokes the teaching of St. Paul in Romans 8:15-16, 26-27, wherein he explains the intimate and efficacious work of the Holy Spirit breathing interiorly in the souls of the baptized, inspiring their prayer, and accompanying it by his help: “When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God…..Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
May we be ever conscious of how the Holy Spirit prompts, guides, and accompanies us in our prayer, no matter how we are feeling. Additionally, as the Church and saints teach us, may we allow the inspired prayers of the liturgy to take root more deeply in us, so that they may serve as reservoirs of living prayer. The Holy Spirit can make great use of one’s appropriation of the Church’s liturgical treasury in the intimacy of one’s own spiritual life.
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.