Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
(Missale Romanum 1962)
For our ongoing meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider today’s Collect for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost in the MR’62. The following translation is taken from the Saint Edmund Campion Missal and Hymnal:
“Almighty and merciful God, in Thy loving kindness do Thou keep us from all things that war against us, that, being unhampered alike in soul and in body, we may with free minds perform the works that are Thine. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”
In today's Epistle (Ephesians 4:23-28), St. Paul tells the Christians in Ephesus, "Be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind" (v. 23). In view of this exhortation to cultivate Christian habits of thought, our Collect likewise focuses our attention on protection from adverse things and the consequent freedom for accomplishing God’s will in mind, as well as body.
We must always remember that the Collects assume that those who are praying are baptized people (clergy and laity together). Accordingly, today’s Collect reminds us that our principal occupation as baptized Christians is the accomplishment of God’s will (not our will, which is naturally inclined to be off target with respect to the good). Since this is a supernatural task, we will always need his divine help and protection, especially because of the continual influence of temptation and concupiscence (cf. Rom. 7-8, Eph. 6).
We do well to note the original Latin words universa adversantia in this Collect may be translated literally as "all adverse things,” that is, things that are turned against us (translated above as “all things that war against us”). Such things are not abstract coincidental happenings of fate, but the natural wounds of Original Sin - ignorance and concupiscence (disordered desires). “Adverse things” also refers to specific lies and temptations the devil suggests to us. St Peter calls the devil the "adversary," and so, "adverse things" such as lies are traced back to a personal source, whom Jesus tells us is trying to "steal and kill and destroy" His sheep (cf. 1 Pet. 5:8; Jn 10:10, RSV).
Therefore, our Collect teaches us that renewing our minds (the Epistle) rests principally on praying for divine protection from these things. The consequence of such protection is the condition of being “unhampered in mind and body” so as to conform our lives to His benevolent will. The Latin expediti here may be translated as “freed, detached, or delivered” from adverse things (Stelton’s Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin). God’s protection from foes within and without detaches us from the sinful things that hamper our progress, thereby propelling us in the freedom to do His will.
Having received divine help, then, we must cooperate with grace in laying greater emphasis on thoughts that promote virtue and charity (cf. Phil. 4:8-9). It some cases, it also involves deliberately examining and exposing the underlying falsehoods in our thought patterns. Regular examination of our consciences in private prayer is essential for this. As Jesus clearly teaches us in the Gospel, the sinful thoughts and attitudes we embrace and cultivate are the font of all other sins (cf. Mt. 15:10-20).
In light of all these things, let us turn to the wholesomeness of the Holy Rosary, for it is among the best ways to defend ourselves against temptation, deceit, ignorance, and concupiscence. In the concluding Collect of the Rosary, we ask God "that meditating upon these mysteries...we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise." It is our meditation on the lives of Jesus and Mary that is crucial here (many good prayer books have been written toward this end). Renewing our minds takes shape most fruitfully by continually thinking about Jesus and Mary, because they are entirely sinless and free in the accomplishment of God’s will. Such meditation spurs us on to godly imitation, so that we may "obtain what [the mysteries] promise," namely, growth in charity and eternal life.(David Allen)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.