Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - SUNDAY, MAY13th, 2018 A.D.: SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
For today’s meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter in the Missale Romanum 1970. Below is the official ICEL English translation of the original Latin Collect for today’s Mass in the MR’70:
“Graciously hear our supplications, O Lord, so that we, who believe that the Savior of the human race is with You in Your glory, may experience, as He promised, until the end of the world, His abiding presence among us. Who lives and reigns, etc. Amen.”
Today’s Collect recognizes that Jesus is no longer visibly on earth in His resurrected body following His Ascension. This itself is important to reflect upon, for it affirms the solid historicity of the Forty Days in which He was visible in His Body, appearing to His disciples (cf. Mt. 28; Mk. 16; Lk. 24; Jn. 20-21; Acts 1:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:1-9). The whole of the Christian faith hinges upon the historical truth of Christ’s Resurrection (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 638-44). We must also affirm clearly that Jesus did not dissolve into thin air on Ascension Day, but rather took His glorified flesh into the very heart of the Godhead, where He reigns bodily, and from whence He shall appear again - bodily - and “every eye will see Him” (cf. Rev. 1:7, RSV; italics mine).
Our Collect makes a robust act of faith in Jesus’ explicit promise to His disciples to be present with them until the end of the world (cf. Mt. 28:20; Jn. 14:15-18, 16:7). In other words, in today's Collect, we pray for the grace of trusting that He has never left the Church without His personal presence, nor will He. Even as He reigns bodily in heaven He extends that living Body to earth in the Blessed Sacrament.
As the Church continues in her novena (nine days of prayer) between Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday, our Collect leads us both to desire and to cherish Jesus’ abiding presence in His Church more deeply.
There are many ways in which the Church understands Christ’s “promise of divine assistance,” as it is sometimes called. Obviously, Christ is present to His Church when the Holy Spirit descends upon her at Pentecost, just as Jesus promised (cf. Jn. 14:15-27, 16:7-15; Acts 1:1-8, 2:1-11). The indwelling of the Person of the Holy Ghost in the baptized effects communion with all three Persons of the Trinity, especially in Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist. Thus, Sacramental grace is the principal way in which we can experience the fulfillment of Jesus' promise of divine assistance to His Church.
The three readings in the lectionary for today’s Mass demonstrate Christ’s abiding presence with His Church in three other aspects, as well. In the Book of Acts, St. Luke relates the episode of the Apostles’ selection of St. Matthias to replace Judas. Thus, we see that Christ is present in His Church through the continuation of the apostolic ministry which He handed onto the Twelve (i.e., apostolic succession). In his First Epistle, St. John teaches that Christ is present in His Church when His disciples exercise the gift of divine charity received in Baptism, a clear homage to Christ’s conferral of the “New Commandment” at the Last Supper (cf. Jn. 13:34-35). He likewise teaches that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is our bond of communion with Christ. In St. John’s Gospel, we hear a portion of the High Priestly Prayer of Christ, who is present in the visible unity of His Church, working mystically in all of her means of grace to sanctify mankind. As we approach Pentecost, it is salutary for us to pray for the visible unity of all Christians, already made real in Baptism, but yet to be fulfilled in the communion of one Faith and one Eucharist.
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.