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pray for Peace

peaceHere is another reworking of a collect shared by Roman Catholics and Episcopalians/Anglicans. I am very happy to receive comments and also suggestions for improvement. The process of producing such a reworking is always a wonderful mulling over and over and over. The mulling over is a form of lectio (prayer), just as the collect itself is the result of the church’s lectio. The process has value – even though I acknowledge the product may be able to be improved. In the commentary below there are some pointers to help your own mulling-over lectio.

Let us pray (in silence) [that God direct our lives in the way of peace]

pause

Almighty and everliving God,
you govern all things in heaven and earth;
mercifully hear the prayers of your people,
and guide the course of our days in your peace,
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour
who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen.

The original was

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
qui caelestia simul et terrena moderaris,
supplicationibus populi tui clementer exaudi,
et pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus….

The collect comes from the Gregorian sacramentary (daily prayers #922 and supplement #1099). It is found in the Hadrianum, the sacramentary given by Pope Hadrian I to Charlemagne in 785-6. The Sarum missal had it as the second Sunday after the Octave of Epiphany. The Books of Common Prayer used it for the second Sunday after Epiphany. Cranmer rendered it as:

ALMIGHTIE and everlasting God, whiche doest governe all thynges in heaven and earthe: mercifully heare the supplicacions of thy people, and graunt us thy peace all the dayes of our life…

The Roman Catholic Church uses it on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time as:

Almighty ever-living God,
who govern all things,
both in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the pleading of your people
and bestow your peace on our times…

The Episcopal Church has it as:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you govern all things both in
heaven and on earth:
Mercifully hear the supplications of your people,
and in our time grant us your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

They, however, use it two Sundays later. Having been the only one I know of who has pointed to almost half the year Episcopalians and Roman Catholics praying different translations of the same collect on the same day, I now have no explanation why, in this case, the same collect is prayed but on (slightly) different days! With Roman Catholics praying this prayer on the same day as advocated in the Book of Common Prayer tradition (in its several editions), I have no hesitancy in advocating that this be the collect to pray on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (The Sunday between 14 and 20 January).

Ordinary Time is a term deriving from the Latin ordinalis, an order of succession; cf. ordinal numbers – counting numbers. “Ordinary Time” is not “boring time” – it is not the opposite of “extraordinary”. In Latin, this Sunday is dominica II per annum – the second Sunday in the course of the year.

you govern all things in heaven and earth
: qui caelestia simul et terrena moderaris

moderaris (from the Latin modus measure, measurement) the deponent verb moderor: set a measure or bounds to; moderate, mitigate, put restraint upon, restrain, allay, qualify; temper, manage, arrange, regulate, rule, guide, govern, direct, control.

In Koine Greek it would be κατευθύνω found in Luke 1:79 (“…to guide our feet into the way of peace.”); 1 Thessalonians 3:11 (“…direct our way…”); 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

“you regulate/rule/guide/govern heavenly bodies and also earthy realities.”

There are echoes of 1 Corinthians 15:47-49 (primus homo de terra terrenus secundus homo de caelo caelestis – “the first human, being from the earth, was earthly; the second human, from heaven, is heavenly”).

15:48 qualis terrenus tales et terreni et qualis caelestis tales et caelestes
“Such as is the earthly (person), so also are the earthly; and such as is the heavenly (person), so also are they that are heavenly.”
15:49 igitur sicut portavimus imaginem terreni portemus et imaginem caelestis
“Therefore, as we have borne the image of the earthly (person), let us bear also the image of the heavenly (person).”

We also remember John 3:12 – this collect becomes our response to Christ’s question:
si terrena dixi vobis et non creditis quomodo si dixero vobis caelestia credetis
“If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”

God, we proclaim, governs all things in heaven and earth; and we are converted into Christ.

Do I, do you, do we believe (ie. live) that God governs a few things, many things, or all things?

mercifully hear the prayers of your peoplesupplicationibus populi tui clementer exaudi

After the bidding, “Let us pray”, those gathering pray in silence. The time of silence is long enough to form prayer. Then the presider collects those prayers in the collect to which the gathered community acclaims, “Amen.” Clearly, the gathering collect needs to be general enough that all can understand their prayers to be included. That is the case in this particular collect. The prayers of God’s people that we are asking God to hear are the (silent) prayers of all those individuals who are gathering, as well what is particularly sought in this collect.

guide the course of our days in your peace: pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus

This might be translated in different ways. We are praying for God’s peace in what is temporal (temporibus – in contrast to eternal), in our times, in our circumstances. It is God’s peace – not just “the world’s” peace. Some will see the desire for external peace as deriving from the time of the collect’s origin. Others will see Cranmer’s particular translation as, similarly, a yearning for external peace in the tumultuous times in which he was translating (“Give peace in our time, O Lord”). The prayer for such external peace is still as valid today as in any earlier period. The prayer for inner peace is also as important today as ever.

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9 Responses to pray for Peace

  1. O Divine One, holy, almighty, and immortal:
    In your sovereign realm is the temporal and eternal
    matters of both this world and the world that is to come.
    As you hear these our prayers for your creation
    may your just peace be here and now,
    through your Beloved in your Spirit,
    with whom you dwell in glory everlasting.

    • Thank you so much for this, Gary. I think my rendition “mercifully hear the prayers of your people” of supplicationibus populi tui clementer exaudi includes the gathering of all the prayers that were being prayed individually in silence after the bidding that is not quite drawn in by yours. There are obvious qualities of yours that improve what I offered. Blessings.

  2. I’ve also noticed some non-Catholic denominations tack on “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever” to end of the Lord’s Prayer and Catholics (at least in Boston) do not. I have to stop myself from continuing the prayer as I learned it whenever I’m in a Catholic Church.

    • Thanks, E L (sorry – you did not provide your Christian name). That is a complex question – and would need a post or more to work through. At Mass Roman Catholics do “tack on” what you mention – The Lord’s Prayer is prayed by all; then the priest prays a prayer (technically called an embolism); then all continue “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and for ever.” (a different translation of what you refer to as “tacked on”); then the priest prays again; then all conclude with the “Amen.” I hope that makes some initial sense – a teaser for a future possible post. Blessings.

  3. I always look forward to your collect translations, Bosco, not least for all the “homework” you share with us, which is illuminating.

    Was your phrase “guide the course of our days in your peace” an unconscious echo of Gregory the Great’s addition to the Roman Canon of the Mass, “diesque nostros in tua pace disponas”?

    Whether God does indeed govern *all* things is a question weighing much on my mind just now. Christianity makes some pretty strong claims about God’s intervention in, presence in, history. (We even speak of a “fulness of time” being reached in first-century Roman-occupied Palestine.) That’s hard for post-post-modern historical consciousness to grapple with.

    Your definition of “moderor” somehow puts me in mind of the paleobiologist Simon Conway-Morris’s ideas of a guiding hand in the evolution of life, namely that life doesn’t blindly struggle on and adapt, but rather is moving towards a form that is somehow implicit in the very fabric of the world (many pathways towards it, lots of dead ends along the way, but somehow both “guided” and “restrained” to keep moving in that direction).

    • Thanks, Jesse, as always. And for your encouragement.

      There is also the echo of the embolism at the Lord’s Prayer, “da propitius pacem in diebus nostris.”

      I am no supporter of the crypto-creationist “Intelligent Design” but would say (cf. Einstein) that God does play dice – and the dice are loaded. There is something in the creation of our universe that inevitably leads to (elements, stars, planets, life) the evolution of sentient, spiritual beings. Simple analogy: the universe is like tossing coins – 1000 heads in a row is sentient, spiritual life – take long enough, it does arrive. What is either side of that 1000 heads may vary (that’s how the sentient life looks: 2 legged, 4 legged; upright, underwater…).

      That only models part of God’s governance.

      God’s governance I hold in faith. That I do not understand it is not surprising to me. I have no real idea how this laptop is communicating with you. Leave me in a warehouse with all the bits needed in their original form – I would have no idea where to start to make this laptop. If I (with a Science degree) cannot even understand how this laptop really works, I’m not really hassled that I don’t understand how God, creation, the universe, and God’s governance works.

      Blessings.

      • Yes, it’s hard to speak about these things without having to make disclaimers about not believing in crypto-creationism! (Conway-Morris isn’t an intelligent design man — but he does discern an Intelligence, and suggests that it is by partaking in that intelligence that human beings are able to find the universe intelligible…)

        Your last analogy is immensely useful: if I don’t understand how human creations work, how can I expect to fathom divine creations?

  4. I enjoy your website and reading your collect commentaries, they give me a historical insight to them. I am an Episcopalian in Virginia (USA) and each week our church holds a group discussion of the upcoming weeks readings. I give your website credit when I give the history of the collect that will be read for that week. This week, I noticed that we will be reading a different collect than what you have posted. We will be reading this collect two weeks later on Feb 3rd. I am not sure why, or when you read our current weeks collect. which is:

    Almighty God, whose Son our Saviour Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illuminatedf by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, Worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with yoou and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen

    Know that I will be ready for our Feb. 3rd discussion! Thanks for all your insight and thoughts.

    • Thanks for your comment and encouragement, Catharine.

      Yes, I mention above TEC’s odd moving of this collect. No one, but no one – including all commentaries – mention that half of TEC’s collects are translations of the same collects used by RCs and on the same day. This even after Pentecost, when both TEC and RCs abandon the Western inherited tradition of organising the numbering of Sundays. This is a discovery of mine that was an important part of doing this work. That makes it extra strange that on the Second Sunday after Epiphany = the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, when BCP1928 and previous have the collect above, RCs have the collect above – and TEC moves it??!!

      Blessings.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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