What’s in That Prayer? The Collect for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Here is the oration that the Church prays in the Mass and Office for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany:

Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, qui cœléstia simul et terréna moderáris: supplicatiónes pópuli tui cleménter exáudi; et pacem tuam nostris concéde tempóribus.

Here is my translation:

All powerful and sempiternal God, who dost govern all heavenly and earthly things: mercifully attend to the supplications of Thy people, and grant Thy peace to our times.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

Almighty, everlasting God, You Who govern both the heavens and the earth, graciously hear the humble prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace all the days of our life.

This is a very clear an simple prayer acknowledging God’s providential governing of the entirety of creation (things heavenly and earthly), and asking Him to hear our prayers for peace in our times.

Prayers for peace are found all throughout the sacred liturgy of tradition. The last petition of the Agnus Dei, dona nobis pacem, is likely the best known. Another example is a rather famous ninth-century antiphon, the Da Pacem Domine, that has been used in a variety of vocal settings, my favorite of which is the Templar Chant version, sung here by the French group, Ensemble Organum:

One immediate implication of the prayer is that we should be praying for peace. There are evil men who profit from war, and who do not want peace as it is very bad for business (the so-called “military-industrial complex”). To say this is not to be a pacifist. The Templars, who prayed for “peace in our times,” were men whose lives were literally consecrated to the career of arms. But they were also steeped in the Catholic tradition of just war, a body of doctrine that modern godless governments (including the heathen Behemoth on the Potomac) hold in utter disdain, even if they occasionally refer to it for PR purposes.

Today’s Epistle is a call to fraternal charity and the practice of several virtues that reveal the authenticity of our charity. If we really love Jesus Christ, we will also love our neighbor, and prove that love by observing these sublime but challenging exhortations of the Apostle, which, it seems to me, are centered around this very un-ecumenical and anti-indifferentist command: “Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good” (Rom. 12:9).

Today’s Gospel is from John 2, and relates the beautiful story of the Marriage Feast of Cana. This is the third of the three mysteries of the Epiphany (see The Grace of the Epiphany for an explanation of these).

We might profit from keeping the theme of “peace,” sounded in today’s collect, in the background as we meditate on both the Epistle and the Gospel. Both give hints to how genuine peace can be achieved.