Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

(Missale Romanum 1970 & 1962)  

Almighty ever-living God, who govern all things, both in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the pleading of Your people and bestow Your peace on our times. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”  

This prayer is distinctive in our Roman tradition, because it can be traced back to pagan times. Incorporated into Christian use, its substance was not altered; it only received a proper Trinitarian doxology at the end to qualify it as a distinctively Christian prayer addressed to the true God. This is an early example of inculturation.

The Church does not (or at least, should not) destroy the pagan culture into which she is sent on mission. This is both unnecessary and often counter-productive to the mission, as Church history sometimes sadly attests. Rather, existing things in any given culture that are good, true, and beautiful, and therefore, in harmony with the Gospel, can and should be carefully and organically preserved, even if they sometimes need purification. Our prayer above certainly contains nothing contrary to the faith, even though it is originally pagan. In fact, because it is now addressed to the true God, this prayer can be answered efficaciously.

Our best patristic source on notion of inculturation is St. Gregory the Great in his correspondence with St. Augustine of Canterbury regarding the mission to the pagan Anglo-Saxons, as is related to us by St. Bede the Venerable in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People

The Second Vatican Council likewise addressed this reality in its decree Ad Gentes, “On the Missionary Activity of the Church.” According to this teaching, all that is good about any un-evangelized culture can find its proper place following its transforming encounter with Christ. Thus, the universal Church finds a new voice in the newly Christianized culture with which to praise God and articulate the faith.

Perhaps one of the most important points in our prayer above lies in its second petition: et pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus (“and bestow your peace on our times”). According to Our Lord in Jn. 14:27, peace is His gift, not something we can manufacture simply by imitation. The peace of Christ is firstly an interior gift of supernatural grace that conquers human sin - the real root of all strife and division. Thus, in the final analysis, peace both precedes and transcends any secondary human effort. In the second place, this peace is a fruit of Christians actively cooperating with divine grace together, that is, truly living the Beatitudes, as a result of their interior transformation.

As we beg God for His gift of peace today, we might ask Him to bestow peace especially to our persecuted brothers and sisters in Niger under the pastoral care of our dear missionary, Fr. Désiré Salako, SMA. We might also ask for deepened healing, conversion, and reconciliation in our relationships with family and friends, where needed. Only as we all are more deeply converted to our loving Lord Jesus will we begin to manifest His peace more concretely in our circles of influence.

(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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"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
- St. Therese of Lisieux (+1897)

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