Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

(Missale Romanum 1962)

For today’s meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider today’s Collect for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost. The following is the English translation of this Collect in the Angelus Press edition of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal:

“Almighty and everlasting God, Who in the abundance of Thy kindness art wont to go beyond our merits and our prayers: pour down Thy mercy on us: forgive us aught whereof our conscience is afraid, and grant us all we dare not ask in prayer. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”

In almost every Roman Collect, the second constitutive element after the address is the ascription clause [the prayer ascribes to God one or more of His words or works]. It is only on the basis of the stunning truth of who God is, what He has done, and what He continues to do, that we can then make our confession of sin, offer our petitions, and articulate a hoped-for outcome. This is how our Roman patrimony teaches us to pray.  

For this reason, we may say that the ascription clause in each Collect is worthy of contemplation just on its own, for each one grounds us in reality [read this sentence again and think on it’s truth]. The ascription clause of today’s Collect is one of the finest in the whole Missal tradition: “Who in the abundance of Thy kindness art wont [i.e., accustomed] to go beyond our merits and our prayers.” If we were to view our lives more clearly through the lens of this clause, how differently we would think, talk, act, and pray. It challenges us to begin all our prayers with adoration or thanksgiving of some kind in response to God’s ineffable love for us [I say “challenge,” because I suspect we often do not begin our private prayers this way, or, at least, we do not do so enough]. Whenever we consciously approach God in prayer, we must strive to raise our minds to contemplate just how awesome and loving He really is (cf. Col. 3:1-2). 

In view of today’s ascription clause, it is perhaps timely and good to re-evaluate our prayer lives, in order to see if we are praying in a way that best gives glory to God, best opens our hearts to his grace, and best equips us for loving others. No matter what the elements are of one’s “prayer rule” (regula- Latin for rule or routine), one must always concentrate the mind and the heart on God and His infinite love. This seems obvious, and yet, how often prayer can become focused on the self (cf. Lk. 18:9-14). Rather, prayer should allow us to become absorbed in the divine words, acts, and wondrous Presence of God himself. These are the definitive criteria for our every act of devotion.

Memorize and use the Collects, for these are not the prayers of the priest only. The priest prays them on behalf of the congregation, but the very name of the prayer implies our active, interior participation. They collect all of our prayers into one formulation, and so, they belong to us all. Leaf through your missal, and find even just 1-2 that really speak to you, and make them your own through frequent use and memorization.

Perhaps fold the Antiphons and Collects of the Mass into your recitation of the mysteries of the Rosary. In other words, use the texts of the Mass for feasts that align with the various mysteries to prompt your meditation. It is of inestimable value for us as Catholics to have key verses and prayers at hand when we need to sanctify our minds, quiet our hearts, or find reassurance in God’s strength and love. How often a temptation can be slain with just the right verse of Scripture or prayer (cf. Mt. 4:1-11). 

(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).

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