What’s in That Prayer? The Collect for Easter Sunday

Here is the oration that the Church prays in the Mass and Office for Easter Sunday:

Deus, qui hodiérna die per Unigénitum tuum æternitátis nobis áditum devícta morte reserásti: vota nostra, quæ præveniéndo aspíras, étiam adjuvándo proséquere.

Here is my translation:

O God, who on this day having conquered death through Thy Only-begotten Son hast unlocked the entrance of eternity to us: do Thou also accompany with your assistance the desires of ours that you breathe into us preventively.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

God, who on this day, through thy Only-begotten Son, overcame death, and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: as by thy anticipating grace, thou breathest good desires into our hearts, so also, by thy gracious help, bring them to good effect.

We acknowledge in this collect that the God who, in Jesus Christ, has conquered death and opened for us an eternity of beatitude has also breathed into us our (good) desires. We ask Him to accompany us in bringing those desires to their ultimate fulfillment. Catholic theology distinguishes between several “sets” of actual graces. One of these is prevenient and consequent grace. Quite simply, prevenient grace, comes before our free-willed act, while consequent grace follows after it. The etymologies of these two adjectives immediately suggest these meanings, just as the vocabulary employed in this oration unmistakably brings to mind this distinction.

Today is the Solemnity of Solemnities and our Pasch. This fairly subdued prayer begs the grace won for us by Him who suffered a horrible Passion and Death, descended into Hell to release those captive in the Limbo of the Fathers, and gloriously resurrected on the third day. It is by virtue of this conquest that we have received any grace at all. It is by virtue of that conquest that we have infused into us wholesome and holy desires. It is by virtue of that conquest that those desires will — if we cooperate with grace — come to their eternal fulfillment in Heaven.

There are several offerings on our site to help you meditate on this magnificent Festival:

A blessed Easter and Paschaltide to all!