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Fifth Sunday of Easter

Let us pray (in silence) [that God will make us one in mind and heart]

pause

O God,
you inspire the hearts of the faithful with a single longing,
grant your people to love what you command
and to desire what you promise,
so that in all the changes and chances
of this uncertain world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed
where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

The above is my reworking for my Book of Prayers in Common in which I seek to provide a set of collects with history and commentary.

The earliest we have traced this collect is to the Gelasian Sacramentary. Through the Sarum Missal and Books of Common Prayer to the 1962 RC Missal it was the collect for the (equivalent of the) Fifth Sunday of Easter. In 1975 it was moved to the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time and Monday in the fifth week of Lent. In 2002 it was removed from the latter. It is used in many Anglican revisions:

Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis, da populis tuis id amare quod præcipis, id desiderare quod promittis, ut inter mundanas varietates ibi nostra fixa sint corda ubi vera sunt gaudia.

Literally:

O God, who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant unto Your people to love that thing which You command, to desire that which You promise, so that, amidst the vicissitudes of this world, our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.

Cranmer for the 1549 BCP translated it as:

ALMIGHTIE God, whiche doest make the myndes of all faythfull men to be of one wil; graunt unto thy people, that they maye love the thyng, whiche thou commaundest, and desyre, that whiche thou doest promes [promise]; that emong the sondery [sundry] and manifold chaunges of the worlde, oure heartes maye surely there bee fixed, whereas true joyes are to be founde; through Christe our Lorde.

1662 changed the relative clause to
“O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men”
this changes the stress from unity to a contrast with loving and desiring what God commands and promises.

I still remember vividly a conversation many years ago with someone increasingly irritated with the Christian ideas she was exploring. For her, particularly annoying was the idea that whilst the bad was due to her, the good she did was sourced in God. For many people, the goal of life is to be nice; to be good. And God might help us to achieve this goal. Pelagius taught whilst we might do this on our own we could seek some help from God (see ICEL below). This collect above can be used to reflect a quite different orientation – union with God as the goal of life; the constant work of God’s grace achieving this union through God’s commands and promises. This perspective may be quite different to believing one might find “lasting joy in this changing world” – though that too can be understood from a perspective of union with God as one’s goal.

Deus – God

Mentes – minds, hearts, souls

voluntatis – free will, desire, inclination

efficis… mentes – you bring about, you form… the hearts of the faithful may be of one desire

da populis tuis – grant to your people

id amare quod praecipis – to love that which you command

praecipis – you take beforehand; you give precepts, enjoin; this connects to mentes

id desiderare quod promittis – to desire that which you promise

desiderare connects to voluntatis – free will

promittis – you say beforehand, hold out

varietas means “difference, diversity, variety.”

mundanus – of or belonging to the world

ut … ibi nostra fixa sint corda – our hearts, our desiring, our loving is fixed, immovable

inter mundanas varietates – among worldly changes

varietates – fickleness, vicissitudes; contrasts with fixa, unius, vera.

gaudia – delights, inner joys, things that cause joy.

Efficio (formed from facio) – to make out, work out; hence, to bring to pass, to effect, execute, complete, accomplish, make, form

Voluntas – will (but it can also mean things like “freewill, wish, choice, desire, inclination” and even “disposition towards a thing or person”)

(RC) ICEL 1973

Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise make us one in mind and heart.

In the failed 1998 English Missal translation:

O God,
you inspire the hearts of the faithful
with a single longing.
Grant that your people
may love what you command
and desire what you promise,
so that, amid the uncertain things of this world, our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.

ICEL 2011:

O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.

See NZPB p. 640b

Almighty God, you alone can bring order
to our unruly wills and affections;
give us grace to love what you command
and desire what you promise,
that in all the changes and chances
of this uncertain world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed
where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ our Lord…

Common Worship (CofE) Third Sunday before Lent:

Almighty God,
who alone can bring order
to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity:
give your people grace
so to love what you command
and to desire what you promise,
that, among the many changes of this world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed
where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

or BCP (TEC p. 219) Fifth Sunday in Lent:

Almighty God,
you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners:
Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise;
that, among the swift and varied changes of the world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed
where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Also used by Anglicans in South Africa, Australia, Ireland,…

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