Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT:
Prayer Over the People - Missale Romanum 1970 (MR' 70)
For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider today’s Prayer over the People in the MR ’70 (said immediately following the Post-Communion). The following is the official ICEL translation of this Collect in the third typical edition of the Roman Missal (2010):
"May bountiful blessing, O Lord, we pray, come down upon Your people, that hope may grow in tribulation, virtue be strengthened in temptation, and eternal redemption be assured. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Praying for God’s “bountiful blessing,” is one way of referring to the many graces of a worthy reception of Holy Communion. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 1391, the primary grace of Holy Communion is mystical and sacramental union with Jesus Christ. The concomitant, or accompanying and secondary graces of Holy Communion include the following: “increase” in “the life of grace received at Baptism,” forgiveness of venial sins, detachment from disordered loves, increased attachment to God through charity, preservation from mortal sin, “strenghten[ing]” of the Church’s unity, and a pledge to assist the suffering poor (cf. Catechism nos. 1392-8).
All these graces of Holy Communion considered together can constitute what the prayer terms God’s “bountiful blessing.” [Reading these brief paragraphs would be an excellent way to make our meditation before or after Mass, so that we can foster a heightened consciousness of all that God gives us in the Blessed Sacrament.] When such blessing is fully embraced by us in our daily life, it will indeed gradually lead to these three hoped-for outcomes listed in our prayer.
(1) Growth of hope in tribulation: Hope is the theological virtue bestowed by God in Baptism, whereby we may both desire and confidently expect union with Him in heaven, and all the graces we need on earth to enter heaven (cf. Catechism nos. 1817- 21, 2090). Such hope relies not upon ourselves, but upon God’s promises, as we say in the common prayer entitled the Act of Hope. Hope is essential, then, for living as a Christian. One of the greatest dangers of sin, however is that it can erode hope. According to St. Gregory the Great, habitual lust leads people to despair of heaven (cf. Morals on the Book of Job, 31.xlv.88; cf. Catechism no. 2091). Despair is the anti-theological vice opposed to hope (antitheological, meaning that it works directly against our friendship with God). A good Lent, by contrast, should lead us to have greater hope, because penance more closely unites us with Christ. He provides bountiful blessings to lift us up out of sin, as we see above.
(2) Stronger virtue in temptation: Virtues, both theological and natural, shape the powers of the soul (intellect and will), so as to move us towards real and authentic goods, and away from false ones (cf. Catechism nos. 1803-4, 1810-13). Union with Jesus in Holy Communion (again, the bountiful blessing) means that we have the Lord with us throughout the week to help us build virtue and to form the powers of our soul. In other words, Christ in us directs us towards true goods, which again, is exactly what we see above in the Catechism. This is also the fruit of hope: trusting God to provide the grace we need to overcome temptation and sin.
(3) Assurance of eternal redemption: This is not the faulty Protestant doctrine of “eternal security” (i.e., “once saved, always saved”). Rather, it is another way of describing how our increased union with God here on earth through the theological virtue of charity leads us ever more securely to beatitude. God enables us to grow in greater friendship with Him on earth, giving us a share in His divine life, and healing us of the effects of sin. The more we grow in charity, the closer we come to claiming our heavenly reward. This is not presumption, but, once again, the working of the theological virtue of hope: a firm trust in God’s love for us, and His ability to take us to the place He has prepared for us (cf. Jn. 14:1-13).Yet another diverse array of concomitant graces! We are all the richer, therefore, if we frequent this awesome Sacrament.(David Allen)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.