Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30th, 2018 A.D.: SAINT FAUSTINA
(Missale Romanum 1970)
For our weekly meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Collect for the feast of St. Faustina Kowalska (October 5). The following is the official ICEL translation of this Collect in the MR’70:
“O God, who in a wondrous manner revealed the inexhaustible riches of Your mercy to Saint Maria Faustina, grant, we beseech You, that by looking with trust upon the pierced side of Your Son we may be strengthened to show mercy one to another and, at length, sing forever of Your mercy in heaven. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”
The private revelations of Our Lord to the Polish nun, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, in the early part of the twentieth century, have had a great impact on our miserable modern world, torn as it is by geopolitical, ecclesial, familial, and personal strife. The essence of the “Divine Mercy” image and message is the basic message of the Gospel: the merciful love of Jesus for sinners, demonstrated for us supremely by His Death.
The famous Divine Mercy image (a copy of which hangs in our parish Church near the baptismal font) is rooted in the Gospel account of Good Friday. St. John locates the full measure of Christ’s divine love in the spear wound in His side while He hung on the Cross: “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (cf. Jn. 19:34, RSV). This blood and water- in view of the whole of St. John’s Gospel, and according to patristic interpretation - represent and, indeed are, the totality of Christ's divine life which He communicates to His Church, especially through the two great Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist (in the Divine Mercy image, the blue-white and red rays convey this same truth).
Our Collect prayer, in its motive clause, bids us focus on this pierced side of the Risen Lord with trust, like St. Thomas (cf. Jn. 20:27). It indicates that we first must receive sacramentally that grace of forgiveness issuing from this wound, if we are to have the ability to forgive others (never forgetting our own ongoing need for forgiveness and conversion). This first petition - the strength to show mercy to others - presents a fundamental challenge to us, who often find it so hard to forgive. We need the supernatural grace from Christ to do that which is humanly impossible. Beyond this, however, the Collect provides a further key: the role of hope in forgiveness.
Our second petition- “[that] we may...at length, sing forever of your mercy in heaven”- presents the real possibility of an eternal reconciliation in Heaven with those we are commanded by Jesus to forgive (assuming both they and we repent of our sins and persevere in God’s grace). The hope for reconciliation in Heaven in no way denies the realities of repentance and justice in regard to any offending party (ourselves included), nor does it imply an unrealistic or imprudent reconciliation in this life where such is not always possible (nor does it deny the real possibility of Hell for the impenitent).
Rather, behind such a prayer of hope lies the sound belief in Purgatory. In other words, we believe that God will sort out all matters of reparation and justice where the offending, albeit repentant, party is concerned. Purgatory will take care of everything that is still lacking in our own and others’ sanctification in matters of justice (again, provided that we and they die in God’s grace), so that we may be reconciled in Heaven. Authentic forgiveness, then, includes our desire and hope for another person’s eternal salvation, with all that this necessarily entails for them. This is very pleasing to Jesus especially when it is a hard sacrifice for us - because it makes us more like Him, that is, more merciful.(David Allen)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.