Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - GOOD FRIDAY
Missale Romanum 1962 (MR' 62)
For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the opening Collect of the Liturgy of Good Friday in the MR ’62. The following translation of this Collect is taken from the Angelus Press edition of the Daily Roman Catholic Missal:
"O God, Who, by the Passion of Thy Christ, our Lord, hast loosened the bonds of death, that heritage of the first sin to which all men of later times did succeed: make us so conformed to Him that, as we must needs have borne the likeness of earthly nature, so we may by sanctification bear the likeness of heavenly grace. Through the same our Lord, etc. Amen.”
This Collect explains the significance of the whole of the Paschal Mystery (Christ’s Death and Resurrection). Christ offers a sacrifice of Himself that truly atones for sin, since He is a divine Person who has assumed a full human nature without sin. As we hear in St. John’s first letter, “He is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (cf. 1 Jn. 2:2, RSV). Christ paid an infinite sin debt (which He did not owe) to the justice of the infinite God, because we owed this infinite debt merited by our sins which we could not possibly pay.
Baptism gains us entrance into this atonement won by Christ. In this first of the Church’s Sacraments, the Precious Blood of Christ washes away our sins (Original and Actual), and we are given entrance into the divine life as children of God. Christ, by His Death, delivers us from the guilt of sin (the rejection of God’s love and life) and the punishment of eternal death (hell, or eternal separation from God). By His Resurrection, He imparts both His forgiveness and a real share in His communion with the Father — sanctifying grace (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 654, 1987-2000).
On this basis, then, our Collect asks God that we might be “so conformed to [Christ]…that we may bear the likeness of heavenly grace.” Since we, the faithful, are already indelibly conformed to Christ as His children in Baptism, the Collect is directing us toward an ever deeper lived experience of Christ’s Passion. Put simply, we lean into our baptismal character.
What is our baptismal character? It is our indelible configuration to Christ for divine worship (cf. Catechism nos. 1272-4). At the center of this stands Christ’s own perfect Sacrifice in the Mass, around which everything else in our lives revolves.
St. Paul offers us two exquisite passages that express this truth. Firstly, in Romans: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (cf. Rom. 12:1, RSV, emphasis mine). Secondly, we see this teaching again in Ephesians: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (cf. Eph. 5:1-2, RSV).
Thus, Christian life is totally cruciform — the whole of life is an obedient, sacrificial participation in Christ’s own self-offering to the Father. Mass and life are integrally united. In the words of the late Fr. John Hardon, S.J., a sacrifice, defined generally, is “the voluntary surrender of something precious to God” (cf. Hardon, The Faith, p. 192). What is more precious than our very selves, body and soul? This is the sacrifice our good God desires of us in union with his Beloved Son. For the Christian, then, daily life, with all its suffering and sacrifice, becomes real and effective union with Christ in his Paschal Mystery through Baptism and Eucharist.(David Allen)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.