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Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity MMXII

May thy grace, O Lord, always go before us and follow us, and make us continually intent upon good works; through ...

 Tua nos Domine quaesumus gratia semper et peveniat et sequatur, ac bonis operibus iugiter prestest esse intentos,  per
[Gelasian Sacramentary]

Introit: Righteous art thou O Lord ...
Ps: Bow down thy ear O Lord ...
Epistle: Ephesians 3:13  Wherefore I pray that you faint not at my tribulation for you  ...
Gradual:  The heathen shall fear the name of the Lord...
Gospel: Luke 7:11-17 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain  ...

The original English translation from 1549 "LORD we praye thee that thy grace maye alwayes prevente and folowe us, and make us continuallye to be geven to all good workes thorough Jesus Christe our Lorde"

This is a very personal prayer for every Christian recognizing and invoking God to go before us and to follow us, with the intent that through his leading and following we may be given to good works pleasing to him.  I think of the wonderful hymn from the early Irish Church attributed to Patrick:

First the collect's attribute of God preventing and following us:

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

and an early stanza of this hymn which reflects the petition of this prayer; leading us to all good works:

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me.
God's host to save me

I had opportunity this week to finish Cahill's book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, which had a chapter on the work of Patrick (387-493 AD). I endorse this little book to all.  Patrick was not a religious lad when captured by the Irish and put to work as a shepherd slave, rather he came to embrace the faith; God by his almighty grace came before Patrick and called him, and then followed him throughout his ministry giving him the power to do all the good works he accomplished. They were works which transformed the Irish people for all time, and had an immense impact on Europe.   I am cognizant of the Gradual appointed for this day in the traditional Lutheran Church that is so appropriate:   The heathen shall fear the name of the Lord... ; and so they did!

I am also reminded that this prayer embraces the true catholic faith, and it defined by Paul in his letters and by Augustine who rightly emphasized the grace of God going before all his elect and keeping all his elect in God good graces and leading them to all good works.  The Council of Orange (529 AD) codified this true understanding in its articles:

CANON 3. If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred as a result of human prayer, but that it is not grace itself which makes us pray to God, he contradicts the prophet Isaiah, or the Apostle who says the same thing, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me" (Rom 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1).

CANON 4. If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, "The will is prepared by the Lord" (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, "For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13)

CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).

Read all the canons here

Augustine touching on the Gospel : Rise, thou that sleepest

(Portions were paraphrased and passages cited from The Collect of the Day, by Paul Zeller Strodach, 1939, The United Lutheran Press, Philadelphia)
The Ancient Collect: Its history and form
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]


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