The Collect at Mass yesterday, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time may have sounded rather insipid. The language used is familiar in other contexts for passing and worldly things, but here the words are used to speak of the ultimate goods, God and God’s creation.
We do well to pause and take note, and to be challenged by the words we pray.
Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God,
the constant gladness of being devoted to you,
for it is full and lasting happiness
to serve with constancy
the author of all that is good.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
‘Devotion’ here does not mean a passing affection or mere warmth of the heart. It has its roots in pagan sacrifice – my life for the enemy’s life! But the concept and practice is purified of negative and destructive aspects in Christianity, while retaining the understanding of vowed commitment, of ceasing to belong to oneself, but being gifted to another, and here to God, the source of all good, and of every good gift.
The prayer acknowledges that the good life is the life attuned to God, and rejoices in the pleasure – ‘full and lasting happiness’ – that comes from attentiveness to God.
In these days when we are newly confronted by evil and by human wickedness the love of God becomes even more important. Likewise our gratitude that we should live in its ambit and for its service.
- Pray that others will too.
- Pray for our own deeper conversion to love.
Sanctuary, Cathédrale de la Résurrection d’Évry. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.