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

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

Deus, qui errántibus, ut in viam possint redíre iustítiæ, veritátis tuæ lumen osténdis: da cunctis, qui christiána professióne censéntur, et illa respúere, quæ huic inimíca sunt nómini; et ea, quæ sunt apta, sectári.

Here is my translation:

O God, who dost show the light of Thy truth to those who are straying that they may return to the way of justice: grant to all who are counted as professing Christians both to reject those things which are inimical to that name and to pursue those things that are suitable to it.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

Almighty God, Who showest to them that be in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness, grant unto all them that are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s Religion, that they may eschew those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same.

Today’s Gospel (John 16:16-22) is part of Our Lord’s discourse after the Last Supper. Liturgically, it is the Church’s first Paschaltide mention of the coming mystery of the Ascension. (For some thoughts on what the two “little whiles” are of which Our Lord speaks, please see Third Sunday after Easter.)

In the Epistle (1 Pet. 2:11-19), which is clearly reflected in this oration, Saint Peter warns the faithful “to refrain yourselves from carnal desires which war against the soul.” To be enticed by such carnal desires into grave sin would violently deprive us of that joy that Jesus promises in today’s Gospel — the joy that no man can take from us.

There is a stanza from the office of Lauds that comes to mind here. Its very loose English translation has its own beauty:

With Christ we died, with Christ we rose,
When at the font his name we chose;
Oh, let not sin our robes defile,
And turn to grief the paschal smile.

Mindful that the neophytes baptized on the Easter Vigil still preoccupy Holy Mother Church in the Paschaltide liturgy, this oration may especially have in mind these new children of the Church. The verb that I translated “counted” and that others translate “admitted” (censéntur) was used by the Romans to mean, among other things, registering citizens, or performing the task of a censor. By their Baptism, the neophytes have registered themselves as citizens of the communion of saints. Of course, whether newly baptized or no, the prayer ought to benefit all who profess to be Christians, that we may receive the grace to eschew what is contrary to that name and pursue what is apt or fitting to it.

Regarding Saint Peter’s utterance about “carnal desires that war against the soul,” we will see them on full display today when the enemies of life defile our Sunday worship by protesting the recently leaked draft of the SCOTUS’ majority decision overturning Roe v. Wade. While Saint Peter no doubt had in mind the life of grace that grave sin removes from the soul, another way of translating this passage is to render anima as “life” rather than “soul” (it means both). Those who promote abortion want the unintended effects of carnal desire to be conveniently dispatched by the surgeon’s knife. Thus their carnal desires literally war against the lives of others as well as against their own souls.

No doubt there will be baptized persons among these fanatical votaries of the sex cult of death. Let us pray especially for these who are straying, that they may return to the way of justice and that they may both reject those things which are inimical to the Christian name, and pursue those things that are suitable to it.

A continued blessed Paschaltide to all!


Jesus giving the Farewell Discourse to his eleven remaining disciples after the Last Supper, from the Maestà by Duccio, c. 1310. (Wikipedia/public domain)