Keep, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy: and because, without thee the frailty of man is wont to fall, save it ever by thine aid from all things hurtful, and lead it to all things wise and prudent. Through ...
The collect this Sunday, and for the next, is a petition for the Church. The translation above is one that I have fashioned based on the original, various translations, and comments. I think it more nearly translates the literal meaning of the original Gelasian collect. The prayer is for the church as an entity and not for the members; hence "keep us....lead us" is really not the original sense, but rather "save it...lead it". The collect is not for a building, or for a specific organization, but rather for the called-out ones (ek kaleo), who are Christ's own.
The collect prays for the Church throughout as it recognizes the frailty of man to keep it pure. Strodach proffers it could be paraphrased to say "'God, save the Church from the unchristian things we men are fain to do to it.' And that is the truth." The early Church was well aware of the wiles or errors of men to pervert the faith handed down by the Apostles. It was at the time of this collect still fighting against the Arian heresy. Indeed the mural of Jesus at Revena showed Christ standing upon the adler and the lion, signals of the struggle and triumph of the Church over Arianism. http://www.orderofcenturions.org/christ_militant.html
Released by Primus Pilus
Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"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]
* ORDO CENTURIONUM * IN HOC SIGNO VINCES * TIME DEUM ET OPERARE IUSTITIAM