Sunday, August 14, 2011

One of my favourite Collects

For the first ever Summer School in 2005 I prepared a booklet with all the propers of the Masses of the week in it, and I was very struck by the Collect for the Ninth Sunday After Pentecost. Here is a 'superliteral' translation from Fr Z, who has a post about its history (it didn't make it into the 1970 Missal but has found a slot on a Lenten weekday in the 2002 edition).
Open the ears of Your mercy, O Lord,
to the prayers of those humbly beseeching:
and, that You might grant the things desired to those seeking them,
cause them to desire the things which are pleasing to You
(Picture: Moses interceding with God for the Israelites in battle.)

One of the things we need to do to have our prayers heard is to ask for the right things, the things which God wants us to ask. If we are asking for things with faith and purity of heart, then we are by the same token asking for things God wishes us to have.

I'm always pleased to see this Collect come round again; exactly when it falls depends on the date of Easter, but it's around August time. I've been going regularly to Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Missal for less than ten years, so I'm a long way from the degree of familiarity I would have if I'd been going all my life. Nevertheless, I am beginning to find an increasing number of readings and prayers becoming like old friends - I meet them each year, on a special feast, or perhaps on feasts of a particular type. I love the reading from Proverbs about the 'mulier fortis', the strong woman, on feasts of Holy Women; I can pretty well sing the Introit from Masses of Our Lady outside Lent and Advent without looking at the music ('Salve sancte parens': hail holy Parent); I have a special affection for the Epistle on the First Sunday of Advent, about putting away evil living, which is the passage of Scripture which finally converted St Augustine.

It is often said that the 1962 lectionary should be expanded to include more scripture, but I don't agree. The limited repertoire has many advantages: those who sing it, and those who hear it, can become accustomed to the readings and the prayers and gain a deeper appreciation of them each time. They serve as milestones in the liturgical year, and since they have, in most cases, been there for many centuries, some have gained strong cultural associations. The classic example of this is the series of Introits beginning 'Excita, Domine': 'stir up, O Lord' which mark the beginning of Advent, and are associated with stirring the Christman pudding.

And then there is the issue of the layman's missal. Hand missals, for the laity, for the Old Mass: they work. Nearly everyone who goes regularly gets one after a bit and they use them. Hand missals for the New Mass - well I was given one (I still have it) for my 13th birthday and after a couple of attempts I gave up on it. I could never remember what year I was in (A, B, or C?), the whole thing is too confusing, and ever year it was different. I'm obviously not the only one because you hardly ever see people using such things in the OF. With the loss of hand missals goes the loss of a great opportunity for people to have, readily to hand, a huge range of prayers and devotions to use at Mass or outside it. Where do you look for the Stations of the Cross? Where do you find a common prayer, like the Memorare or the Prayer for England, which you don't quite have by heart? Actually my old OF Missal has very little of this stuff, maybe that's one reason they have declined in popularity.

You can buy the excellent Baronius Press hand missal (pictured) for the Traditional Mass from the LMS here.


  1. Perhaps the 1962 lectionary could be expanded just a LITTLE bit - bring back the 12 prophecies for Holy Saturday would be nice.

  2. Joseph Shaw9:03 am

    No objection to that!