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

“May Thy grace, we beseech Thee, O Lord, ever go before us and follow us: and make us continually intent upon good works. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”

Unlike many Collects, this terse text is essentially a dual petition. The first petition, that God’s grace would “go before us and follow us,” refers especially to the mystery of God’s providence. God’s loving care for us at every moment is exercised through His direct supervision and intervention, as well as through an array of secondary causes (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 302-308). Therefore, when we pray for God’s grace to go before and follow us, we profess our belief that His benevolent providence works inside and outside of time in real and mysterious ways. It also means that we can trust God to care for everything which is outside of our control. How we need to pause in order to submit to this mystery expressed so briefly in our Collect, and to be consoled thereby. 

In the second petition, we ask that God’s grace, which we trust is ordering all things for our good (cf. Rom. 8:28), will also work interiorly in our will so that we may be inclined to do good. This challenges us in the very depths of our souls, for the locus of sin is the will of fallen man. On the one hand, since man is created in the image of God, he is not entirely deprived of goodness. On the other hand, Original Sin deprives him of God’s grace and indwelling life. Additionally, the deleterious effects of sin so disfigure man’s intellect and will, that he simply does not have the interior resources with which to do God’s will at all times correctly, or with “ease” and “joy” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 404-5, 418, 1702-7, 1804).

Therefore, we absolutely need divine grace to “attain [our] ultimate end” (cf. Catechism nos. 308, 1708-9, 1810- 12). The gift of God’s divine life and love within us cannot come through a mere walk in the woods (i.e., the common claim of “nature is my church”). This Collect’s insistence upon our need for grace leads us to see, then, why Sunday and Feast Day Masses are indispensable, for Christ Himself chose the Church’s sacramental life as the privileged means of receiving such grace.

I would heartily recommend reading St. John Paul II’s apostolic letter, Dies Domini, available online and in hard copy formats, which talks about the joy and pivotal importance of divine worship underlying the obligation of assisting at Mass. Even more fundamentally, the Letter to the Hebrews also speaks so eloquently about the integral and indispensable place of New Testament worship in Christian faith and life. Consider the following from Heb. 10:19-25 (RSV):

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” 

(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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