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New Series � History of Collects and Ancient Homilies

New Series – History of Collects and Ancient Homilies

Beginning this Sunday and for the rest of the year, look for a short history on the weekly Collect and for an ancient homily –  by John Chrysostom where available. Read more below.

One of the chief aims of the Order, as has been stated in our History section since the very beginning, has been to encourage worship as practiced by the Early Christians. Scripture is our first source, and our next is the exposition of Scripture and the traditions as recorded by the early doctors of the Church. In this regard, I encourage all centurions to read this piece by a scholar of early literature and a Christian Knight of the 20th Century Why Read the Classics?;An Introduction by CS Lewis.

One classic source offered Sunday-by Sunday has been the Collect. In the book: The Collects of Thomas Cranmer, by C. Frederick Barbee, and Paul FM Zahl, they write:

One constant that … is still with us .. is the Collect. Imagine being transported in a time machine to fifth-century Rome on a particular Sunday of the church year and knowing enough Latin to recognize with delight and suppose the very same prayer to be found for that day in the Book of Common Prayer!. This is entirely possible, for the vast majority …are in fact pre-Reformation. Most are taken from the Sacramentaries of three famous Bishops of Rome: Leo I (440-461), Gelasius (492-496), and Gregogry the Great (590-604). A Sacramentary was a book that contained the fixed prayers of the Eucharist and the variable Collects of the Day"

The Collect’s name comes from the Latin "collecta", meaning to collect up the prayers of the people. Collects were originally extemporaneous, and still are, or may be, in many places. In the developing Early Church, Collects evolved to the form shown below. As you read through the following component outline of a Collect, compare the component with the corresponding phrase from the Prayer of the Order of Centurions shown in italics.

Address -- almost always addressed to God the Father, sometimes to Christ : Almighty God

Acknowledgement -- what God has done or his character: "our sovereign Lord, who called Cornelius the Centurion to be the first Christian among the Gentiles, who healed the servant at Capernaum in accordance with the Centurion's great faith, and who inspired the Centurion at Calvary to glorify Jesus"

Petition -- the action verbs – what we want God to do : strengthen us in our faith

Aspiration -- that which we wish to be the outcome of our prayer: "that we might follow their example to love, serve, and glorify you as faithful members of the Church Militant,"

Pleading. -- a concluding phrase offered through the Son, often with a describing clause, and stating the Trinity: "through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen"

The Collects are by tradition to be used all the week following unless another is specifically appointed for a special day (e.g., Epiphany, Transfiguration, etc.) They may be said morning, noon, and evening with the Lord’s Prayer. You may wish to make the weekly Collect part of your daily prayers. Copy it down or print it and carry it with you. It is also on the Order’s Chapel site all week in the devotional section..


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