Book of Prayers in CommonIn publishing my first edition of a Book of Prayers in Common I highlighted my discovery that not only do Roman Catholics and Anglicans (Episcopalians) share many collects in common – but pray them ON THE SAME DAY. No one else appears to have noticed this – or can explain why/how.

[If you have not yet obtained my book, you can get the PDF free here; other formats are here].

In amongst the stream of encouraging responses (thank you for your encouragement!) I received a terse email response to my above point from an Anglican organisation. It simply had the words: “It’s been that way for, oh, 600 years. We’re sure people have noticed.”

I have obviously not made my point clearly enough.

The first half of my point, that Roman Catholics and Anglicans (Episcopalians) share many collects in common, is not at all surprising. Somebody else can do the work of collating the collects that Anglicans and Roman Catholics had in common between the BCP (eg 1662) and the pre-Vatican II RC Missal (eg 1962). There was also, obviously, a commonality between their lectionaries. The lectionaries and the collect collection drew from a shared Western background.

Through Vatican II, Roman Catholics prepared a whole new lectionary system. Sunday readings after the Day of Pentecost no longer were assigned by their time since the Day of Pentecost (as they had been previously), but were fixed to move in quite a limited band of days they could occur (eg. the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, with its readings and collect, now always occurs on the Sunday between 2 and 8 October). Let us continue with that particular example. The Vatican also assigned the collect of the post-Tridentine Missale Romanum (1962) for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost to that Sunday, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The English translation of the collect (ICEL 1973) was:

Father,
your love for us
surpasses all our hopes and desires.
Forgive us our failings,
keep us in your peace
and lead us in the way of salvation…

Episcopalians/Anglicans (we know) followed RCs in the new lectionary system. Anglicans also reassigned the collect collection. For the Sunday I am taking as an example, The Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer (1979) assigned BCP(1662)’s collect from The 12th Sunday after Trinity:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray,
and to give more than we either desire or deserve:
Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid,
and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask,
except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

No one I know of ever suggested that the RC collect and the Episcopalian/Anglican collect on this same day are actually different translations of the same inherited collect!

Then came the new RC translation (2011). The RC collect was now more accurately translated (whatever else you may think of that translation) as:

Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Suddenly it is pretty obvious. Both the Episcopalian/Anglican and the Roman Catholic prayers are slightly different translations of a common collect, shared in the united history:

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui abundantia pietatis tuae et merita supplicum excedis et vota, effunde super nos misericordiam tuam, ut dimittas quae conscientia metuit, et adicias quod oratio non praesumit.

Far from praying the same collect on the same day for the last six centuries as the email declared, historically RCs and Anglicans had been praying them on different days (Pentecost 11 and Trinity 12 are a fortnight apart). Now, without anyone explaining the process by which this happened, or commenting on this other than here, we not only share the same readings but also the same collect.

I have, so far, brought together 14 of these in my Book of Prayers in Common.

I rework the collect and I provide it with historical background and commentary. In this case my reworking is:

Let us pray (in silence) [that we may be open to God’s goodness]

Pause

Almighty everliving God, [or Compassionate God]
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray,
and to give more than we desire or deserve;
pour upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things
of which our conscience is afraid,
and giving us those things
for which our prayer dares not ask;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Thank you to all who have been encouraging me in this work. I am hoping that some will begin the venture of at least translating the collects in my book into Te Reo Maori. If you want to be part of that – do please let me know.

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