Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER: PRAYER OVER THE OFFERINGS
Missale Romanum 1970 (MR '70)
For this week’s column on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we turn to today’s Prayer over the Offerings for Fourth Sunday of Easter (also known as “Good Shepherd Sunday”) in the MR’70. The following is the 2010 ICEL translation:
“Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may always find delight in these paschal mysteries, so that the renewal constantly at work within us may be the cause of our unending joy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
This prayer, characteristically simple in its shape, leads us to examine our faith and love for Jesus in this great Sacrament. Such knowledge and love together constitute the purpose of our worship, and the prayer categorizes them under the single reality of delight. More delight in Jesus begets more joy in possessing Him.
The Psalmist, like the Liturgy, takes the same approach: “Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4, RSV). To delight in God is to know Him by faith and to love Him. This particular verse should prompt us to consider the degree to which God is the primary object of our desire. Is He the choice treasure of our hearts? God has revealed to mankind that He alone can fully satisfy the heart’s deepest desires for love and communion. Thus, while other noble and good desires exist, the psalmist is leading us to see that only when we consciously make God the supreme object of our desire, will our deepest desire truly be fulfilled. In effect, the keeping of the First Commandment is the key to happiness.
In view of this, we return to our Collect, which begs God for the grace of increased delight in the paschal mysteries, that is, increased faith and love for Jesus himself, crucified and risen, and present to us in His eternal Sacrifice. Eastertide is the season, par excellence, wherein we may relish the mysteries of faith and the charity of God bestowed on us in the Paschal Sacraments, especially Baptism and Eucharist. Eastertide celebrates the crucified, risen and exalted Christ who, from heaven, sanctifies His Church in her sacramental economy which He Himself instituted while on earth. Thus, this season is the fulcrum around which everything else turns. Our own personal sanctification is possible only because of what Easter celebrates: Jesus crucified and risen.
This sanctification is the interior renewal of which the Collect speaks. The effects of the paschal mysteries include increased delight in Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The more we delight in Christ, the more He increases such faith and charity within us, the fruit of which is increased joy. And the biblical sense of joy is the deep-seated happiness Jesus promised His disciples on Holy Thursday, having just instituted the Eucharist: a joy which cannot be taken away (cf. Jn. 16:22). This is the joy of the martyrs: their persecutors cannot rob them of sanctifying grace, that is, their union with Christ in faith and charity.
In view of these things, we might consider the quality of our preparation for Holy Communion. In the harried pace of life, it is not always easy to make an excellent preparation for Holy Communion, but we should always strive to improve it. Besides regular confession and Prayers-before-Communion another time-tested approach is to read and meditate briefly upon the Gospel of the day. This exercise tends towards kindling the faith and love (holy desire) which Jesus deserves when we approach Him at the altar. (cf. Lk. 24:32, RSV, the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus)(David Allen)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.