(from the Leonine Sacramentary)
This collect is appointed in the Tridentine Missal for 12th after Pentecost: “Omnipotens et misericors Deus, de cujus munere venit, it tibi a fidelibus tuis digne et laudabiliter serviatur: tribue. quaesumus, nobis, it ad promissiones tuas sine offensione curramus.”
ALMYGHTIE and mercyfull God, of whose onely gifte it cometh that thy faythfull people doe unto thee true and laudable service; graunte we beseche thee, that we may so runne to thy heavenly promises, that we faile not finally to attayne the same; through Jesus Christe our Lorde. (1549 BCP)
ALMIGHTY and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (1928 BCP)
There are only a few words in this rich collect but they say everything about what the Orthodox call “an orderly ascent.” The Christian life is one of gradual growth to spiritual maturity and from maturity to eternity. God’s grace begins a work in those who will be faithful. That is the beginning and it is God’s work, often referred to as prevenient grace. Then comes the service, tested and often found wanting, yet received according to the heart of the servant. When God receives our service, we rejoice with Abel whose offering was accepted, knowing that there are “brothers” nearby who resent our service. So we struggle with outside resistance as well as fleshly passions. Our struggle too is aided by His grace, so that we are able to keep our eyes fixed on the prize: those heavenly promises that are attained only through the merits of Jesus Christ.
---------------------------Alice C. Linsley