Friday, March 23, 2007

The Collect - Lent V

The Prayer

From the Roman Breviary

Quæsumus, omnípotens Deus, famíliam tuam propítius réspice : ut, te largiénte, regátur in córpore ; et, te servante, custodiátur in mente. Per Dóminum.

We beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy family: that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul. Through.

From the 1549 Prayer book

WE beseche thee, almyghtie God, mercifullye to looke upon thy people; that by thy greate goodnesse they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soule; through Jesus Christe our Lorde.

The Commentary

Again Cranmer, the Roman Breviary and the Sarum Missal coincide, though there is an interesting and subtle variant of the word "famíliam" being translated as "people" by Cranmer. In today's vernacular, Cranmer's collect seems to be rendered less personal than perhaps intended. Are we not a family in God?

The Reflection

Why is it that we keep asking God "mercifully to look upon" us. Doesn't He do this automatically? He's omniscient isn't He?

Indeed so, but in giving us the space to be ourselves He also opens Himself up to being pushed away, and we do this every time we sin. Just as Adam and Eve's nakedness was covered up in fur, so the shame of our deeds could act as a barrier to the loving oversight of the Lord.

It is often when we find our preservation threatened that we realise that the Lord's episcopacy -- His oversight -- is precisely what we need, so in praying for God to look upon us (especially in His mercy) we are praying for us to become transparent once more, shedding the layer of shame with which we try to shut God out. It is only by accepting both His overisght and His governance that we will find ourselves eternally preserved. What could be better for us?

Jonathan Munn

1 comment:

Alice C. Linsley said...

This is a lovely and meaningful meditation. Much to consider.