Saturday, March 6, 2021

The Collect for the Third Week of Lent

O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness, Who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving have shown us a remedy for sin, look graciously on this confession of our lowliness, that we, who are bowed down by our conscience, may always be lifted up by Your mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

author of every mercy and of all goodness – God is the master storyteller. Without compromising our free will in any way, He writes the story of our lives, incorporating His mercy and goodness into every line. Indeed, all God creates is good, and even when evil corrupts the good that God has made, God brings good out of the situation for those who love and trust Him. Even when we sin and then repent, God gives us the infinite good of His mercy, showering us in His forgiveness and love.

fasting, prayer and almsgiving – These are the three traditional activities of Lent. Fasting helps us let go of our attachments to the material world. Prayer helps us strengthen our bond with God, especially when we focus on praying to get Someone rather than something. Almsgiving spreads God's love, the love that we value in fasting and reach out for in prayer, to our neighbors.

a remedy for sin – Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving lead us to recognize, acknowledge, repent of, and seek forgiveness for our sins. We let go of sinful tendencies in fasting, seek God's mercy in prayer, and unselfishly recognize the needs of others in almsgiving.

look graciously on this confession of our lowlinessHumility is a simple recognition of reality. Before God, we are nothing. Without God, we can do nothing. We needs His grace at all times. If He stopped thinking of us for even a moment, we would cease to exist. We are fully dependent upon God.

we, who are bowed down by our conscience – We are sinful people, and we know it. If we truly examine our consciences, we will find that we have offended God very often in our thoughts, words, and deeds, in commission and omission. We must be aware of our sins and faults and failings not so that they can drag us into despair but so that we can bring them to God with repentant hearts.

may always be lifted up by Your mercy – God's mercy is always available to us when we come to Him with repentant hearts, humbly asking His forgiveness. He reaches down, lifts us up, and sets us back on the right path, the path that leads straight to Him.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Collect for the Second Week of Lent

O God, Who have commanded us to listen to Your beloved Son, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by Your word, that, with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold Your glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

Who have commanded us to listen to Your beloved Son – In this Sunday's Gospel, we hear about Jesus' transfiguration. A cloud casts a shadow over the mountain, ad the Father's voice rings out, “This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him.” How well do we listen to Jesus? Do we allow His words in Sacred Scripture, in Sacred Tradition, through the Magisterium of the Church, and whispering in our hearts to shape our lives and our being? Or do we only listen to Jesus when it is convenient or when His words match what we already think? The Father places no qualifier on His commandment. We are to listen to Jesus at all times. Remember, too, that in the original Greek of the Bible, the word for listen also holds the additional connotations of pay attention and obey.

nourish us inwardly by Your word – “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Thus says Jesus to the tempter in Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. Our Lord's words are meant to feed us spiritually, to help us grow and flourish in love. What's more, Jesus is the Word of God Who nourishes us in a special way in the Holy Eucharist when He comes to us Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

with spiritual sight made pure – We need to ask ourselves if we are seeing clearly or if the eyes of our spirits and souls have become cloudy through sin and distraction. Then we must pray to God to purify our spiritual sight so we may see Him as clearly as possible in this life and face-to-face in eternity.

we may rejoice to behold Your gloryWe often talk a lot about our goals. We set them frequently, some manageable, others not so much, some worldly, others spiritual, some we would be better of not making, others that are helpful in many ways. But we often lose sight of our first goal, the one that must take precedence over all other goals: attaining everlasting, perfect joy in the presence of God. God made us to become saints and dwell with Him in Heaven forever. If that isn't our highest goal, then we need to adjust our priorities.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Collect for the First Week of Lent

Grant, almighty God, through the yearly observances of holy Lent, that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

the yearly observance of holy Lent – Focus in on the phrase “holy Lent.” Do we think about Lent as being holy? We might think of it as penitential or challenging or perhaps even gloomy, but do we realize that it is a holy season? In Scripture, the word “holy” means to be set apart. If someone is holy, he or she is set apart, consecrated for God, made His special vessel and instrument whom He can use for His purposes. Lent is designed to make us more holy, more set apart, more open to God's will and to the purposes God has for our lives.

grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ – Oh the riches hidden in Christ! They are innumerable, infinite, beyond the reach of our human minds. Yet we can begin to grasp some aspects of those riches by meditating on them. When we do, we discover love beyond all telling, wisdom, beauty, truth, goodness, all the virtues we can possibly think of and then some. Let us ask our Lord during this Lenten season to reveal more of His riches to us, even to shower us with them, that we may know Him better and love Him ever more deeply.

by worthy conduct pursue their effects – Of course, the more we know about the riches hidden in our Lord, the more that knowledge, spurred by grace, should change our lives. In imitation of Him, we should become more loving; more desirous for wisdom; more beautiful in our thoughts, words, and deeds; more committed to truth; more guided by goodness; and more intent upon virtue. We should chase after the riches of Christ that they may enrich us and help us become more and more like Him.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Collect for the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

O God, Who teach us that You abide in hearts that are just and true, grant that we may be so fashioned by Your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to You. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

O God, Who teach us – Think about all the ways in which God teaches us. We listen to His words in the Scriptures. We hear Him speaking through Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church. We feel the inspirations He places in our hearts as we pray. We sense that He is sending us messages through the people we meet and the events we experience. Indeed, God never leaves us without instruction; we have to learn to listen and obey.

You abide in hearts that are just and true – Here is one of the major truths that God teaches us. When we are in a state of grace, when we are just (that is, right with God thanks to His mercy and grace and our acceptance of them), when we are true to God's plan of salvation for us and to His idea for our lives, then He abides in our hearts. His indwelling presence remains with us. He is closer to us than we are to ourselves. He loves us and guides us and protects us from the inside out.

fashioned by Your grace – Do we allow God's grace to fashion us, to shape us and mold us into the people of love that He wants us to be? Or do we hinder His grace, putting up roadblocks of selfishness and pride, of hatred and indifference, of fear and anxiety?

become a dwelling pleasing to YouWe must strive to make a comfortable, clean dwelling place for God in our souls, a place of warm love and close attention, a place of obedience and openness, a place of intimacy and connection that helps us grow closer and closer to our Lord. May God give us the grace, and may we always accept that grace, to turn out hearts and souls, our bodies, minds, and spirits into a place of communion with Him until we may see Him face to face in eternity.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Collect for the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Keep Your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care, that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace, they may be defended always by Your protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Keep Your family safe, O Lord – We are God's family. When we were baptized, we entered into a covenant with Him, a family bond made by swearing an oath (which, if we were infants, our parents and godparents did for us and which we begin to renew on our own as we grow old enough). Jesus initiated this New Covenant by His life, passion, death, and resurrection, and He made it possible for us to enter into the family of God in a new and far more intimate way than ever before. We are now sons in the Son, heirs in the Heir, God's children by adoption thanks to the sacrifice of love made by His only-begotten Son. When we pray for safety, we do so with great trust, knowing that good, loving parents always want to keep their children safe and that God is the best and most loving of parents.

with unfailing care – God never fails to care for us. We may not always feel His care because our minds are too focused on our problems rather than on His love, but we can be certain that God is always taking care of us. If He did not, we would simply cease to exist.

relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace – We can do nothing on our own. We cannot merit our salvation. We cannot earn our way to Heaven. God always goes before us with His grace. He always takes the initiative. He always paves the way. But we must respond to His grace, accepting it, embracing it, living by it, and placing our hope in it (for God's grace is more powerful than we can ever imagine).

they may be defended always by Your protection – We are most likely not even aware of many of the ways in which God has protected us over the years. We have no idea how many times He has kept us from harm or lightened our burdens or lifted us up from the depths. So we pray with confidence that He will always defend us, for He loves us infinitely.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Grant us, Lord our God, that we may honor You with all our mind, and love everyone in truth of heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

we may honor You with all our mind – What does it mean to honor God with our minds? First, we embrace what He reveals to us through Scripture and Tradition, through the Church, through our consciences, and through the many other ways in which He communicates with us daily. We learn to recognize Him when He reaches out to us, and we reach back. Second, we strive to know ever more about Him and His plan of salvation, delving into the beauty and wonder of our faith. Third, we must conform out minds to God's revelation and God's will. Fourth, we must use our minds to praise and thank God, acclaiming the awe of His being and the wonders of His works of love.

love everyone in truth of heart – We must truly love others from the heart. This does not mean simply having affection for our neighbors although affection is often part of love. It means willing the very best for them and then doing all we can to help them achieve that best. Love is an act of will that arises out of the depth of our being where we encounter God and His love for us. It is this divine love that flows into and through us that we strive to pass on to all those we meet.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Collect for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Almighty ever-living God, direct our actions according to Your good pleasure, that in the name of Your beloved Son we may abound in good works. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

direct our actions according to Your good pleasureTo love God means to embrace His will. We must always trust that God knows exactly what is best for us and that whatever He ordains or permits will be for our greater good. Our part is to cooperate and to obey, to make our decisions in conformity with God's will, to allow Him to call the shots in our lives.

in the name of Your beloved Son we may abound in good worksWhatever we do, whatever we say, whatever we think we must unite to Jesus. We will abound in good works when we act in imitation of Jesus, or even better, in unity with His divine life.