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

Here is the oration that the Church prays in the Mass and Office for Low Sunday, which is, I believe, the Sunday on the Church’s calendar with the most names:

Præsta, quǽsumus, omnípotens Deus: ut, qui paschália festa perégimus, hæc, te largiénte, móribus et vita teneámus.

Here is my translation:

Grant, we ask, almighty God: that we who have celebrated the Paschal Festival may, through Thy largess, grasp onto it by our good customs and manner of life.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who have celebrated the Paschal Feast, may, by Thy bounty, retain its fruits in our daily habits and behavior.

This short and simple oration has a depth that might easily be missed at a superficial reading. Low Sunday is the Octave Day of Easter. Every day of this past week has been Easter Day relived. The antiphon “Haec est dies quam fecit Dominus; exsultemus, et laetemur in ea,” from Psalm 117 (This is the day…”), is uttered multiple times a day in the Divine Office, and even at the blessing and thanksgiving that accompany our meals. “This day” of the Pasch is repeated throughout the Octave. Today it has been completed, so it can rightly be said — using the perfect tense, which denotes a completed action — that we “have celebrated” the Paschal Feast.

But what we ask for in the oration is no less meaningful: It is none other than that we might attain to, grasp, hold on to, or retain (all legitimate meanings of teneámus) the grace of the Pasch in our morals and mode of living — and all that by God’s generous bounty.

While this oration certainly applies to all Christians, it doubtless has special application to those two categories of people whom the Church’s Lenten liturgy had in mind throughout our preparation for the Pasch: the catechumens (who are now neophytes, and who are especially the subject of today’s Introit), and the public penitents, who are now reconciled to the Church.

If we were good during Lent, let us not be bad now that the glorious Paschal Feastival has come and gone! Let us retain its blessed fruits in our customs and manner of life. The victory has been won, as saint John tells us in today’s Epistle; let’s grab hold of it and not let go:

Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory, which overcometh the world, our faith.

A blessed Paschaltide to all!