O God who seest that we are destitute of all virtue; Guard us inwardly and outwardly; so that we may be fortified against all adversities in body, and cleansed from all depraved thoughts. Through the Lord...
Latin original Collect:
Deus, qui conspicis omni nos virtute destitui interius exteriusque custodi, ut ab omnibus adversitatibus muniamur in corpore, et a pravis cogitationibus mundemur in mente, per Dominum.
Introit: Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies…
Ps: Unto thee O Lord, do I lift up my soul…
Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7. Furthermore then we beseech you…
Gradual: The troubles of my heart are enlarged.
Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28. Then Jesus went thence, and departed…
See it all here
O God who seest that of ourselves we have no strength: Keep us both outwardly and inwardly; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through…
[Lutheran and Anglican service books]
This Sunday the title is prefaced with the Latin "Reminiscere" for "Remember" in the Lutheran service book. It is the first word of the Introit. Last week the title of the Sunday was prefaced by the Latin word "Invocabit" meaning "Call" from which we get "Invocation", and a "Call to Prayer". For eons, these Sundays were known by the first word of the Introit, which always began the Divine Office. We shall see more examples of this tradition in the weeks ahead.
Please note that the first collect is Strodach's personal translation and is much closer to the literal meaning of the original collect. The prayer in the Anglican and Lutheran service book was crafted by Cramner in 1549. I think that the literal interpretation has more punch. It is succinct, direct, and discomforting!
Deus, qui conspicis omni nos virtute destitui interius exteriusque custodi
-- O God, Who seest that we have no power whatever inwardly and outwardly to guard,
God does see within us that we are but mortal, weak in resolve, and in fact so weak that we are unable to attain to that place God calls us without his intervention. This was the entire point of the Pelagian controversy and the defense of the catholic faith by Augustine and again later by his followers when this precept was forgotten. The Latin word "virtute" means "manly"—of having "moral excellence". It is the ability to stand against evil in the evil day. It is the courage to take the right side even when it means that one will be subjected to persecution. We are destitute (destitui) of that quality, both inwardly (interius) and outwardly (exteriusque) to guard (custodi) ourselves from the evil and weakness the pervades our world. Why is this? Sinfulness. The word guard (custodi) carries the sense of a Power who is able to keep us from falling. It is that Power that will protect us from the ultimate fall so that as we read in last week's Gospel, "He shall give his angels charge over thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up" [Matthew 4:6]
With the truth humbly confessed, the petition follows:
ut ab omnibus adversitatibus muniamur in corpore, et a pravis cogitationibus mundemur in mente
-- so that we may be defended from all adversities in the body, and from all evil thoughts which may hurt in the mind, by the Lord.
The petition reflects back on the properties confessed in the first phrase. We cannot of ourselves protect body and soul, so God must be our strong Defender. First against the constant adversities toward the body (adversitatibus muniamur in corpore), and secondly against the depraved (pravis) thoughts (cogitationibus) of the mind (in mente).
The reality is plainly before us, as it was to Paul in the Epistle appointed for today. Paul warned the Christians of Thessalonica that were falling into sin. First, they embraced sin in their minds and souls through bad thoughts, and then they realized that sin in their physical bodies through evil and forbidden acts.
There is only one cure: Jesus, the great Physician, who deigned to heal the humble Canaanite woman's child in today's Gospel. He will also respond to the humble cry of the penitent for help. Let us join in this season with the Church and pray as it has has prayed this collect for centuries, and ask God to come and defend us from every evil thought, every corrupt desire, all vain imaginations, and every adversity that assails. Our faith can save us, and our loved ones, as it did the Canaanite woman's daughter and the centurion's servant, by the will of Jesus Christ who is always Faithful. I pray the Lord may look upon you and be able to speak the words he said to them: "O great is thy faith".
See an homily by Chrysostom on the Epistle http://orderofcenturions.org/documents/lent2_07.html
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"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]
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