Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Collect: Quinquagesima

Old Latin Collect
We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to hear our prayers; that we, being absolved from the chains of our sins, may be defended from all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer Book Collect from 1549 on
O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ's sake.

This collect was written for 1549 by Archbishop Cranmer. He seems to have felt that the older collect lacked the focus of the appointed readings, and crafted this lovely prayer in view of the Epistle (1 Cor 13), known as the love chapter.

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Without Charity (= agape, selfless love) I might as well be dead. My heart, mind, and soul would then be directed only to my own desires and pleasures. There would be neither love of God or of my fellow man, and I would be condemned by the whole of the Law. Such a life leads not to true joy on this earth and leads relentlessly to everlasting misery hereafter. So it is without the gift of the Holy Ghost to my heart. Fill me, Lord, with the Love that is thine everlasting nature, and make me whole.

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