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

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

Largíre, quǽsumus, Dómine, fidélibus tuis indulgéntiam placátus et pacem: ut páriter ab ómnibus mundéntur offénsis, et secúra tibi mente desérviant.

Here is my translation:

Being appeased, O Lord, bestow lavishly upon Thy faithful both pardon and peace: that they may be cleansed from all offenses, and likewise may zealously serve Thee with an untroubled mind.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

O Lord, we beseech You, graciously grant Your faithful forgiveness and peace, that they may be cleansed of all sin and serve You with minds free from care.

We see here a graceful parallelism in the structure of the oration, the two halves of the parallelism being separated grammatically by the colon and the word “ut” (that), which makes the second half of the prayer an ut clause of purpose (or result).” There is a twofold request at the beginning, a double grace we ask of God. In the second part there is another pairing of results (or fruits) from the graces sought, and the second half of this second pairing obliges us to do something.

Let me explain. These two pairings my be schematized as follows:

  • The grace of “pardon” (forgiveness) results in our being “cleansed from all offenses.”
  • The grace of “peace” results in our “zealously serv[ing] [God] with an untroubled mind.”

In a recent Ad Rem, I wrote that, “Peace of soul is a necessary condition for the life of virtue.” My observation, not at all original (thank God), finds confirmation in second “pairing,” above, of grace with result. This grace obliges its recipient to do something, namely, to serve God zealously (desérviant has this more intense meaning over and above mere serving) with an untroubled mind. Serving God zealously, which we cannot do without peace of mind, is synonymous with practicing virtue. “Practicing virtue” entails doing good works that are meritorious in God’s sight.

This thoroughly Catholic prayer portrays God’s actual grace as what it is: an absolute prerequisite for our free-willed, meritorious acts.