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

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

Omnípotens et miséricors Deus, univérsa nobis adversántia propitiátus exclúde: ut mente et córpore páriter expedíti, quæ tua sunt, líberis méntibus exsequámur.

Here is my hyper-literal translation:

Almighty and merciful God, kindly cut off from us all opposing things: that, our mind and our body being together unimpeded, we may steadfastly pursue with free minds the things that are Thine.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

Almighty and merciful God, graciously keep away from us all misfortune, that, unhampered in soul and body, we may perform with peaceful minds the works that are Yours.

We ask the Eternal Father to exclude from us all adverse things, all things that oppose or restrict us in the way of salvation. Sin and vice impede us in that journey. It is these things that resist God and that encumber us; therefore, we ask the merciful Father to cut them off from us, exclude them from our lives.

The modern, post-Christian, and neo-pagan notion of freedom holds that we are only free if we can equally choose between good and evil — liberated, as it were, from the moral law. Such a notion of freedom makes God the ultimate slave and Our Lady and all the Holy Angels and saints in Heaven to be similarly bound. But God is supremely free, and the Blessed in Heaven are as free as any creature can possibly be. Grace and its sequel, heavenly glory, liberate us; they do not enslave (read some further excogitations on that here).

Given this doctrine of grace as “liberating,” it is reasonable and edifying that there are no less than three mentions in this prayer of being “unimpeded” by things that “oppose” us so that we may be “free” and “unhampered” in both mind and body to pursue divine things.

It is worthy of note that the Epistle for this Sunday (Eph. 4:23-28) begins “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.” Also, the Gospel (Matt. 22:1-14) is the Parable of the Wedding Feast, which ends with the man who has not on a proper wedding garment being “bound” and cast out into the exterior darkness. With their images of holy “renewal” of our minds by grace and of the wicked “bondage” of sin, we see that these two Biblical pericopes and the collect that accompanies them this Sunday wonderfully complement each other.

My the truly Christian liberty we pray for in this oration be ever ours!