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Ordinary 11

Let us pray (in silence) [that we grow in unity with God – the source of all good]

pause

O God,
the strength of all who hope in you,
mercifully accept our prayers,
and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do nothing without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in following your commands
we may please you in desire and in deed;
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 Gelasian sacramentary (# 566) and the Gregorian sacramentary (# 1129) effectively have this collect for the same Sunday, the Sunday after the octave of Pentecost, later known as the first Sunday after Trinity. [The Gallican Missale Francorum (# 141) has it before the recitation of those to be prayed for. The Gallican Bobbio missal (# 507) has it as the offertory prayer in the second of the five Sunday Masses.] Sarum to 1928 continued its use on the first Sunday after Trinity, and Common Worship (CofE) has restored that position. The Episcopal Church (BCP) moved this collect to the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany. Roman Catholics in the 1962 Missale Romanum used it during the week after Trinity Sunday and, after Vatican II, it now is the collect for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Deus in te sperantium fortitudo adesto propitius invocationibus nostris et quia sine te nihil potest mortalis infirmitas praesta auxilium gratiae tuae ut in exsequendis mandatis tuis et voluntate tibi et actione placeamus per Dominum…

This was translated by Cranmer 1549:

GOD, the strength of all theym that hope in thee, mercifully accept our prayers; and because the mortal weakness can do nothing without thee, graunt us the helpe of thy grace, that in kepyng of thy commaundementes we may please thee, both in will and dede; through Jesus Christ our lorde.

Cranmer’s translation is quite accurate, excepting he replaced “hope” with “trust”, “mortal weakness” with “the weakness of our mortal nature”, and “can do nothing” with “can do no good thing”. 1662 slightly revised it, adding “put their”, “through”, and “we”, to:

O God, the strength of them all that put their trust in Thee, mercifully accept our prayers; and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without Thee, grant us the help of thy Grace, that in keeping of Thy commandments we may please Thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The collect focuses that we need God’s grace both to will and to do any good or be pleasing to God. This can be read quite negatively – with a gloomy view of human nature. One can hold to human weakness and yet have a positive view of the goodness of our God-given human nature when we understand God not just as a source of goodness, or even the source of goodness outside of ourselves, but God as goodness. So that the goodness we experience within ourselves and in and from others is a manifestation of God.

This parallels the shift in understanding integral to Thomas Merton’s conversion. In The Seven Storey Mountain, Merton recounts purchasing Etienne Gilson’s The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy. He writes:

[T]he one big concept which I got out of its pages was something that was to revolutionize my whole life. It is all contained in one of those dry, outlandish technical compounds that the scholastic philosophers were so prone to use: the word aseitas. In this one word, which can be applied to God alone, and which expresses His most characteristic attribute, I discovered an entirely new concept of God—a concept which showed me at once the belief of Catholics was by no means the vague and rather superstitious hangover from an unscientific age that I had believed it to be. On the contrary, here was a notion of God that was at the same time deep, precise, simple, and accurate and, what is more, charged with implications which I could not even begin to appreciate, but which I could at least dimly estimate, even with my own lack of philosophical training.

Aseitas — the English equivalent is a transliteration: aseity — simply means the power of a being to exist absolutely in virtue of itself, not as caused by itself, but as requiring no cause, no other justification for its existence except that its very nature is to exist. There can be only one such Being: that is God. And to say that God exists a se, of and by and by reason of Himself, is merely to say that God is Being [my stress] Itself. Ego sum qui sum. And this means that God must enjoy “complete independence not only as regards everything outside but also as regards everything within Himself.”

in te sperantium fortitudo – strength of ones hoping in you

invocationibus nostris adesto propitius – gracously attend to our prayers

et… gratiae tuae praesta semper auxilium – ever grant the help of your favour

quia sine te nihil potest moralis infirmitas – because without you mortal weakness can do nothing (cf. Jn 15:5)

semper – always

ut… et voluntate tibi et actione placeamus – that we may be pleasing to you in intention and desire

gerundive in exsequendis mandatis tuis – in carrying out your commands

BCP (TEC) Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany:

O God,
the strength of all who put their trust in you:
Mercifully accept our prayers;
and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you,
give us the help of your grace,
that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Common Worship (CofE) The First Sunday after Trinity:

O God,
the strength of all those who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers
and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do no good thing without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in the keeping of your commandments
we may please you both in will and deed;
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. Amen.

ICEL (1973):

Almighty God, our hope and our strength, without you we falter. Help us to follow Christ and to live according to your will.

In the failed 1998 English Missal translation:

O God,
the strength of all who hope in you,
accept our earnest prayer.
And since without you we are weak and certain to fall, grant us always the help of your grace,
that in following your commands
we may please you in desire and in deed.
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, strength of those who hope in you, graciously hear our pleas, and, since without you mortal frailty can do nothing, grant us always the help of your grace, that in following your commands we may please you by our resolve and our deeds.

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