What’s in That Prayer? The Collect for Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Here is the oration that the Church prays in the Mass and Office for the fifth Sunday after Pentecost:

Deus, qui diligéntibus te bona invisibília præparásti: infúnde córdibus nostris tui amóris afféctum; ut te in ómnibus et super ómnia diligéntes, promissiónes tuas, quæ omne desidérium súperant, consequámur.

Here is my translation:

O God, who hast prepared invisible goods for those who love Thee: pour into our hearts such affections of love, that, loving Thee in all things and over all things, we may obtain Thy promises, which surpass all desire.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

O God, You Who have prepared good things as yet unseen for those who love You, pour a burning love into our hearts, so that we, loving You in and above all things, may obtain Your promises which surpass all desire.

In today’s Epistle (1 Pet. 3:8-15), Saint Peter gives us multiple admonitions to holy charity: “be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, being lovers of the brotherhood, merciful, modest, humble: Not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing: for unto this are you called, that you may inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. Let him decline from evil, and do good: let him seek after peace and pursue it….”

The Gospel (Matt. 5:20-24) fits hand-in-glove with these admonitions. Our Lord there tells us that our “justice [must] abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees.” In the New Law of Christ, we are held to a much higher standard. We are to avoid being angry with our brother, and letting that anger escalate to exclamations and denunciations of him, seeking rather to be reconciled to him so that our very offerings to God be not hindered by our uncharitable dispositions.

These admonitions to love of neighbor, the second Law of the Gospel, assist us in practically living our first and greatest Law as Christians: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength” (Mark 12:30).

It is this first Law, along with the infused virtue by which we observe it, that we pray to be perfected in us today. We ask that God will pour His love into our hearts so that we love Him in all things and above all things.

Today is a beautiful day in southern New Hampshire. It is sunny but mild. Everything is green, lush, and effulgent. It struck me while meditating on this prayer that, in the Northern Hemisphere (where our liturgical prayers were composed!), this is generally a beautiful time of year. It came into my mind that the Church wants us to love God “in all things,” yes — including God’s wondrous nature that reflects His beauty — but also “above all things,” because the most excellent “good things” that He has prepared for us are “invisible” to us as long as we belong to the Church militant. As luminous and lovely as our day may be now, it is a pale reflection of the good things that await us in Heaven, should we remain faithful to the twofold Law of Charity.