Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - SUNDAY, MAY 20th, 2018 A.D.: PENTECOST SUNDAY
For today’s meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Post Communion Collect for the Feast of Pentecost in the Missale Romanum edition of 1962. Below is the English translation of this prayer in the Angelus Press edition of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal:
“May the infusion of the Holy Ghost, O Lord, cleanse our hearts and render them fruitful by the inward sprinkling of His dew. Through our Lord...in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, etc. Amen.”
Today’s Post Communion Collect professes the truth of God’s ongoing work of grace in human souls. The argument of the prayer is as follows: God’s gracious initiative in Christ both calls and enables us to respond with a life of virtue and charity. As St. John tells us pithily in his First Epistle: “We love, because He first loved us.” (1 Jn. 4:19, RSV).
Our Collect follows the logic of this simple verse from St. John. It recognizes that the fulfillment of its petition for fruitful works hinges upon the prior supernatural infusion of the Holy Spirit into our souls. In other words, the prayer stresses the primacy and efficacy of sacramental grace.
Our Collect today argues that our communion with Christ is also an infusion of the Holy Spirit into our souls and bodies. According to Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 1108, “In every liturgical action the Holy Spirit is sent in order to bring us into communion with Christ and so to form His Body. The Holy Spirit is like the sap of the Father’s vine which bears fruit on its branches.” The Holy Spirit is our bond of communion with Christ and the Father, enabling us to bear meritorious fruit for the kingdom (cf. Jn. 14:15-21, 15:5, 26, 17:20-23, Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 246, 248, 683, 689, 737, 1083, 1104-9).
Thus, our Collect offers us a unique insight into the Person of the Holy Spirit in Holy Communion, namely, that He gives us special graces concomitant with our reception of the Body of Christ. According to St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, the Holy Spirit bestows the gift of Christ’s own charity to the faithful within the liturgy itself (cf. Catechism no. 1394). We see this principle also in the Roman Canon: “...so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing.” Here, the graces and blessings of the Holy Spirit (His presence being implied) are bound up with the reception of the Blessed Sacrament. Or again, more explicitly in Eucharistic Prayer III, we hear the following: “grant that we, who are nourished by the Body and Blood of Your Son and filled with His Holy Spirit, may become one body, one spirit in Christ” (emphasis mine).”
Ultimately, the foundation of this beautiful teaching is Christ’s own promise in the Gospel: “If any one thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water. Now this He said about the Spirit, which those who believed in Him were to receive” (Jn. 7:37-39, RSV).
Thus, when we encounter Christ, He gives us a share in His Holy Spirit. It is not an accident that this very Scripture is the Communion Verse for the Mass formulary for the Vigil of Pentecost in the MR’62, and that it appears immediately prior to the same Collect that is used as the Post Communion in today’s Mass. We can see, then, how the Church as Christ’s Bride actively engages with her Bridegroom’s own words in her prayer (cf. Catechism no. 1089). May the Church’s prayer provide the model and nourishment of our own prayers.(David Allen)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.