Sunday, July 27, 2008

Collect of the Week--Trinity X

I apologize for being so silent lately, as well as for the fact that there has been no collect or hymn featured for quite some time.

Today really is Trinity X. I always feel a bit sorry for Catholics because they no longer have a Trinity season. I think they used to but could be mistaken here. Perhaps this has always just been called "ordinary time." Here is the collect for Trinity X:

Let thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

When I was a child, I used to ask my parents why we always ended our prayers with, "In Jesus' name." I was given to understand that we should always be praying according to the will of God, praying things that we could ask in the name of Jesus, requests that would be honoring to him. This makes a lot of sense. You can hardly say, "Dear Father, please make that jerk who nearly hit me at that intersection have an accident and learn his lesson. In Jesus' name, Amen." Doesn't work.

This collect emphasizes the same point. If we want our prayers answered in the affirmative, it's a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition that they be prayers for the right kinds of things. God might still say "no" in some given circumstance, for reasons he knows, but that principle of asking for things that will please God should make us alert when we pray. I do not believe that it is wrong to pray about small things. It's much better to pray about small things--especially for those of us to whom nothing monumental ever happens--than not to pray. But to distinguish the small from the trivial and purely selfish, it doesn't hurt to ask oneself, "Is this request for the kind of thing that is likely to please God?"

Here's another collect, on which I don't think I shall have any comments. But it deserves to be better known. It's from the back of the American 1928 Prayer Book, from the Family Prayer section. I have heard speculation that these prayers were written by, or modified from some written by, the late 17th century divine Tillotson, but I do not know what the evidence is for that hypothesis. The style is notably different from Cranmer's, but the writer of these collects has, like Cranmer, the genius to interweave phrases from Scripture in his prayers. I wish some of the prayers from the Family Prayer section were used in the liturgy, and I do try to use some of them at home with my family. This one is labeled "In the morning," but I find it makes a lot of sense to pray it at night, too:

Almighty God, who alone gavest us the breath of life, and alone canst keep alive in us the holy desires thou dost impart; We beseech thee, for thy compassion's sake, to sanctify all our thoughts and endeavours; that we may neither begin an action without a pure intention nor continue it without thy blessing. And grant that, having the eyes of the mind opened to behold things invisible and unseen, we may in heart be inspired by thy wisdom, and in work be upheld by thy strength, and in the end be accepted of thee as thy faithful servants; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.


Jeff Culbreath said...

Lovely prayers. The 1928 BCP is an incomparable source of beauty in the tradition of English prayer.

In the traditional RC Calendar, today is the 11th Sunday After Pentecost. I'm not sure whether the Catholic Church has ever had a Trinity season: Pentecost goes on for 24 Sundays.

Today's collect in the 1962 Missal is one of my favorites and is a great comfort to me:

"O almighty and everlasting God, who in the abundance of Thy loving-kindness art wont to go beyond both the merits and prayers of Thy suppliant people, pour down upon us Thy mercy: that Thou mayest forgive us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and grant us what our prayer does not dare to ask. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who . . ."

Yes, Lord, grant us what our prayers do not dare to ask!

Lydia McGrew said...

Thanks, Jeff. That collect from 1962 sounds awfully familiar, as if I've read it in the Anglican Prayer Book in a slightly different translation. I'll have to look it up.

Lydia McGrew said...

Ah, yes, I see that that one is going to come up in about two weeks for us--Trinity 12. It was translated by Cranmer from the Latin Catholic sacramentary, and it had a phrase added by Bishop Cosin in 1662. Here's our version (which I like a lot, including the added phrase):

Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

I had it as my first collect of the week last year but didn't comment on it. It really is hard to find anything to say without gilding lilies.

Lydia McGrew said...
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