Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

(Missale Romanum 1962)

For our weekly meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider today’s Collect for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The following is the English translation of this Collect from the website www.divinumofficium.com:

“Almighty, eternal God, grant us an increase faith, hope and charity; and make us love what You command so that we may be made worthy to attain what You promise. Through Jesus Christ, etc. Amen.”

In this prayer, we are asking God to increase in us the essential graces of our Baptism (what are termed the “theological virtues” of faith, hope, and charity) with a view to two outcomes. Firstly, these virtues will enable us to love God’s will in this life, for in loving and doing His will, we love Him. Secondly, our cooperation with these virtues in this life will prepare us for heaven’s glory, where our enjoyment of God’s love will be limitless. Thus, this prayer both identifies our ticket to heaven, and beseeches God, in hope, for its securement.

To understand the importance of these virtues further, we turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 1812-13, which I recommend reading slowly:  

1812: “The human virtues are rooted in the theological virtues, which adapt man's faculties for participation in the divine nature: for the theological virtues relate directly to God. They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have the One and Triune God for their origin, motive, and object.”

1813: “The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as His children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.” 

In other words, the theological virtues are supernatural (above nature)- they are gifts of God infused into our souls in Baptism. They are necessary for entering into friendship with God, and ultimately, heaven itself, for we cannot enter heaven without our free cooperation with them in this life. We must believe the objective truth that God has revealed in Christ (faith), trust Him to fulfill His promises and to provide us with grace (hope), and love him above all things, and our neighbors for His sake (charity) [for fuller explanations, see Catechism nos. 1814-29].

The urgency of knowing about, possessing, and practicing the theological virtues cannot be understated. Too many people champion the credo of “being a good person,” while simultaneously keeping Christ and his Church at arm’s length (or further!). This is an objectively invalid qualification for heaven, for it is often a disguise for moral relativism, religious indifferentism, or impenitence in some grave matter [it is to be distinguished, however, from the nuanced patristic and conciliar teaching on “baptism of desire” of the virtuous pagan].

The Catholic claim, especially in light of the lives of the saints, is that one cannot really be the good person that one often claims to be (and wants to be) without God’s grace! It is grace which forgives sins, perfects our human nature, and makes it capable of fulfilling its true destiny, according to the abovequoted teaching from the Catechism. Jesus tells us the following things unequivocally in the Gospel: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments…..I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 14:15, 15:5, RSV). One could think of today’s Collect as the liturgy’s crafted response to these very verses

(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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