Sunday, August 02, 2015

Collect for the ninth Sunday after Trinity

The Latin Collect
LARGIRE nobis, quæsumus domine, semper Spiritum cogitandi quæ recta sunt, propitius [periter] et agendi, ut qui sine te esse non possumus, secundum te vivere valeamus. Per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.

[My translation: Grant to us, we pray O Lord, the spirit always to think those things which are right, and to do them mercifully [expertly], that we, who cannot exist without Thee, may be worthy to live following Thee. Through...]

The 1549 prayer book
GRAUNT to us Lorde we beseche thee, the spirite to thinke and doe alwayes suche thynges as be rightfull; that we, which cannot be without thee, may by thee be able to live accordyng to thy wyll; Through Jesus Christe our Lorde.

The 1662 prayer book
GRANT to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The text of the 1549 Latin version has the word periter instead of the word propitius. The former has the sense of acting in a skilled manner, deftly and expertly; the latter has the sense of acting kindly or mercifully. It may appear that the English translation provided by Archbishop Cranmer and amended over the course of the century has dcided tor remove the controversy by omitting the word completely. However, just as Latin and Greek are precise, the English language has a richness which allows both ideas to be incorporated into the word "rightful". We are to think the things that are right, and perform them rightly. After all, as St Thomas Aquinas would say, fire is a good thing in itself, but when used to burn people it is not being used rightly. St Benedict would also counsel us to refrain from using many words, even if they are good words. Good things can be misused.

The translation given by Archbishop Cranmer also clarifies the phrase sine te esse non possumus. For him, it is not enough just to exist in ourselves. We are created by God and everything that God has created by God is good in itself. Yet, the presence of Evil in Creation causes us to choose to act in ways that are not Good. We cannot be good without God creating us so; we cannot do good without following God's command and His Example in Our Lord.

We were born blind until the light of God's revelation opened our eyes to His love and to what is good. Yet, we can shut our eyes to the light of God so that we do not know the moral worth of our actions, but this act of shutting our eyes prevents us from knowing the difference between what is truly good and what is superficially good. In praying this collect, we commit ourselves to walking with our eyes open to the light of God and knowing that our free choices can turn us from the path back to Him. We need to become expert in being merciful, and skilled in being kind through God's teaching so that this light of God may shine ever more apparently on those who still walk in darkness.

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