Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

Missale Romanum 1962 (MR '62)

For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Collect for today’s Mass of Laetare Sunday in the MR ’62. The following translation is my own:

"Grant, we beseech You, almighty God, that we, who are deservedly punished from our actions may find relief by the comfort of Your grace. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”

On Laetare (“Rejoice”) Sunday, we have reached the mid-point of Lent. We are usually a bit fatigued from the practice of penance, and so, we may be disinclined to hear about the subject of punishment. I urge us, however, not to recoil at the treatment of this subject. Unless we properly understand what punishment and sin are really all about, we will not be able to receive today’s message of joyful consolation. Read on!

Sin is man’s willful rebellion against God, even though He is man’s highest Good, without whom man cannot, indeed, will not, be happy (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 396-8 and 1849-50). Sin likewise possesses two dimensions: culpa (fault or guilt) and poena (punishment). And punishment is two-fold: eternal (i.e., hell), and temporal. God’s forgiveness and grace are the remedies to the guilt and punishment of sin. In His mercy, He restores communion and strengthens charity within us when we repent. In the sacramental order, Baptism and Confession take away both culpa and poena (eternal and temporal) for sin. The Eucharist likewise forgives venial sins and takes away temporal punishment. What exactly is temporal punishment?  

In Catechism no. 1472, we find a perfect summary of how the Church understands temporal punishment, or the punishment due for sins whose guilt has already been forgiven [note the bolded portions I have chosen to emphasize]

1472 “.....sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the ‘eternal punishment’ of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the ‘temporal punishment’ of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.”

According to Church teaching, then, sinners punish themselves when they sin, because sin, by its very nature, either weakens or completely snuffs out charity, depending on whether the sin is mortal or venial. We know from experience that after we have been forgiven of sins in Confession, there still remain in us the effects of sin, or the ways in which sin has disfigured our soul, disordered our loves, and stunted our growth in holiness. As we see above, this is temporal punishment.

Thus, our Collect gets it exactly right when it says that we suffer justly the punishments of our freely chosen sinful acts, because we have done it to ourselves! In view of our merits for sin, then, we need the remedy of God’s grace. This is essentially the teaching of St. Paul in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (RSV). This is the joyful message of consolation the Church urges us to embrace at this important mid-way point of our lengthy season of penance.

Such consolation is found in Mother Church’s bosom, according to our Introit, for she alone has the divinely revealed means of grace: the Blood and Water coming forth from Christ’s side, which are PARISH FELLOWSHIP the whole sacramental order. In particular, the Blood and the Water are Baptism and the Eucharist, the chief means of grace for growth in charity, and the ultimate remedies for sin and its punishments (cf. Catechism nos. 1067, 1115-16, 1436). 

(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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