Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

Missale Romanum 1970 (MR '70)

For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider today’s Collect for the Second Sunday of Lent in the MR ’70. The following is the official ICEL translation of this Collect in the third typical edition of the Roman Missal (2010):

"O God, who have commanded us to listen to Your beloved Son, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by Your word, that, with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold Your glory. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”

This prayer makes a comparison between us, the faithful, who hear God’s word proclaimed and preached in the Church, and the three Apostles who saw the Lord transfigured and who heard the Father’s voice. This Collect argues that we will be able to see the Lord- that is, to come to know and recognize Him as He truly is, the Son of God and our loving Savior- insofar as we allow ourselves to be nourished, that is, influenced, changed, and purified by His teaching.

Jesus says something strikingly similar to this in His discourses with the Apostles on Holy Thursday. In His parable of the vine and the branches in St. John’s Gospel, He says this: “You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you” (cf. Jn. 15:3, RSV). In other words, the teaching of Christ has a purifying effect on the hearts of those who listen with faith and docility. 

Hearing the Word of God is primarily a liturgical action within the context of the Church, where Christ is mediated through the apostolic preaching of the priest and the Church’s sacred rites (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 74-82, 1100-01, 1153-55, 1548). This does not minimize, however, the importance of reading Scripture on one’s own for devotion and edification. Indeed, the two go together, and both are necessary for our life in Christ (cf. Catechism nos. 2587-89, 2653).

This leads us to consider the Church’s teaching on the salutary effects of listening to and reading Scripture as exercises of penance. In Catechism no. 1437, we read this: “Reading Sacred Scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Our Father - every sincere act of worship or devotion revives the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and contributes to the forgiveness of our sins.” In other words, sitting at the feet of Jesus and taking in His teaching is itself a purifying activity, when done with repentance, faith, and love. It makes us better lovers of God and our fellow man.

This is precisely why the Church encourages attentive listening to sacred ministerial preaching, as well as diligent reading of and listening to Sacred Scripture, and even attaches indulgences to these activities, as we see in the Church’s Manual of Indulgences nos. 16 and 30: “

“A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who on the occasion of a mission have heard some of the sermons and are present for the solemn conclusion of the mission.” [This is a wonderful motive-among many others-for attending our yearly Lenten parish mission!]

“A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who assist with attention and devotion at other occasions of the preaching of the Word of God.” [i.e., every Mass!]

“A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who read the Sacred Scriptures as spiritual reading, from a text approved by competent authority and with the reverence due to the divine word, for at least a half an hour; if the time is less, the indulgence will be partial.”

“If for some good reason a person is unable to read the Sacred Scriptures, a plenary or partial indulgence is granted, as above, if the text of Sacred Scripture is listened to while another person is reading or if it is heard by means of a video or audio recording.”

What wonderful opportunities to grow in merit and charity! Let us ever be formed according to the mind and heart of Christ.

(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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