Sunday, November 29, 2015

Collecting Collects: Reviewing the year's collection

I have tried to give a reflection on each of the collects for the Sundays over the past year. Time rather forbade me from reflecting on more of the Saints' days and other places where the Prayer book gives a collect. My intention has been to demonstrate the richness of the prayers that we say at Mass and in our daily offices that carries over the time of the Reformation.

Whether or not one subscribes to the doctrine that emerged in the Church after the Reformation, one is always faced with the pain that those who prayed these collects faced. Their prayers sought God with tears, sweat and blood even as Our Lord's did in the Garden of Gethsemane on that fateful evening. While our blood, sweat and tears do not save us in themselves, it is our love for God that produces them which brings us face to face with Christ in whose sufferings we participate.

Prayer has to be hard work. We have to face the pain of our separation from God without the numbing effects of daily life and its distractions. We are fallen, but none of us is irredeemable. Our purgatory is real and necessary for us to be transformed into beings of light. Our Collects teach us about this struggle: the need to find the light, the need to follow God, the need to look to Him in the hours of darkness; the need to seek to be part of His family the Church. We pray with Gervasius, Pope St Gregory and with Archbishop Cranmer who sought to render their words into English.

These Collects do go across denominational divides and have the power to unite us if we appreciate that they can be given nuances. Even if we cannot agree on the accuracy of the variety of translations from the Latin, we need to remember that, in most Offices, the collect is preceded by the Lord's prayer which does unite Christians. If we take our time praying the Lord's Prayer rather than gabbling it through, we can actually savour the words of Our Lord Himself. These words will sanctify our prayer if we allow them and allow us to pray our collects with greater sincerity, unity and with a greater sense of their catholicity.

It is the purpose of these collects to gather us together in a singleness of intention to which the Church can testify to a darkening world. Let us then allow ourselves to be collected and raised up in our prayers to the throne of God to stand with the saints and worship Him with them.

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