Sunday, August 23, 2015

Collect for the twelfth Sunday after Trinity

Latin Collect
OMNIPOTENS sempiterne Deus, qui abundantia pietatis tuæ et merita supplicum excedis et vota, effunde super nos misericordiam tuam, ut dimittas quæ conscientia metuit, et adjicias quæ oratio postulare non audet. Per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.

[My translation: Almighty and Everlasting God, who exceedest both the merits and prayers of supplicants with the abundance of Thy pity, pour upon us Thy mercy that Thou wouldst pardon those things which consciences fear, and Thou wouldst increase those things which prayer doth not dare to ask. Through...]

Prayer book of 1662
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire, or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

Archbishop Cranmer seeks to clarify the meaning of the Latin collect without losing the poetry of its expression. In this collect, we are faced with the great mysterious nature of God. This is a God whose presence strikes fear into the hearts of men, whose raw power renders Man's capabilities insignificant, and whose lifespan render's Man's existence a matter of milliseconds. This is a God who excels any capacity that Man possesses except the capacity to hate, for that is contrary to the existence of God.

In comparison with God, we are nothing, and yet the great mystery is revealed when this Divine Being, the Creator of the Universe, bends down to touch the lives of His Creation, bestowing worth, dignity, attention, and devotion liberally from His consideration. Faced with this, our consciences find themselves scurrying around, bringing out our deepest darkest fears, the secret sins,and the most ignoble and disgusting thoughts, all because we know full well that God knows the secrets of our hearts.

The trouble is that our fear strikes us dumb. Knowing that we cannot hide anything from God, we fear that what we need to ask of Him might be unacceptable, idiotic, or that, because we are habitual and unmitigated sinners, He is within His rights to refuse all our prayers. We might be able to gabble "give us this day our daily bread" but we do so disallowing our minds any purchase on what we have just prayed so that we don't anger God by asking unworthily.

While we are right to be afraid of what our sins have done to us, yet we should fear God more because He forgives sin. He is not out for our destruction - He is after our salvation and seeks our happiness. We might be afraid to ask, but God does not forbid us to ask. His answer might be "No" but it will be a "No" with the greatest Love and respect for the person He has created us to be. We pray on our knees but we can do so boldly, knowing that we will be heard by One Who seeks only our good.

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