Sunday, June 28, 2015

Collect for the fourth Sunday after Trinity

The prayer book of 1662
O GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake our Lord. Amen.

Whether Catholic, Reformed or both, one of the things that makes Archbishop Cranmer so inherently loveable as a liturgist is that he can do justice to tradition in the vernacular. He may not have been a Catholic in the Vincentian definition of the word, he certainly was not the Pope's man nor was he a puritan in the same vein as Oliver Cromwell a century later with its obvious change and refinement. Yet his, with Bishop Coverdale, is the mastery of language. If he had seen fit to change this collect at all, he would have done so. We can truly say then that this is a collect that passes over the Reformation unchanged and is good Anglican Catholic doctrine.

Here we see Cranmer and St Thomas Aquinas in harmony and it is beautiful. A man is strong, another is stronger, but God is strongest because God is what it means to be strong. A woman is holy, another woman holier, but God is Holiest because God is what it means to be Holy. We have no true knowledge of things without first seeing that knowledge in God Himself. All good things come from God including the faith to reach out to Him. The only way we can be strong enough to escape the clutches of death is to draw strength from Him, not to trust in our own strength. The only way we can be holy is not by prating and preaching, nor dressing up in cassocks, birettas, mitres and tiaras, or fasting long and sore, self-flagellation, self-mutilation, mumbling from breviaries or prayer books in English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew or Coptic et c., but rather by seeing that the only way to be holy is to draw that holiness from God. Holiness is separation for God's work, and therefore nothing we can do can make us Holy, save only by choosing to seek God first so that all things can be added unto us.

We humans are strange beasts and can shipwreck our salvation simply by forgetting from Whom good things come. Being both flesh and spirit, we straddle the knife-edge between the temporal and eternal. Only God can freely move between both! We must rely on His ability to draw us across that knife-edge in the substance of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

No comments: