This week’s Collect for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost (Extraordinary Form), an ancient prayer already in the Veronese Sacramentary, lives on in the Novus Ordo on the 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, da nobis fidei, spei et caritatis augmentum: et, ut mereamur assequi quod promittis, fac nos amare quod praecipis.
Current ICEL (2011– 30th Ordinary Sunday): “Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise.”
We pray to love what God commands. Doing what another commands is not always pleasant. Our wills and passions rebel. We prefer to command rather than to be commanded. From a worldly point of view, we might think that we can find peace by being in charge. Each one of us desires peace and happiness, and we long for the means to attain them. If we attach happiness to created things we are inevitably disappointed. All created things, including people, even loved ones, can be lost: the fear of losing them lessens our peace in this life. God alone provides the lasting peace we desire, because He alone is eternal, unchanging, perfectly trustworthy. We cannot lose God unless we ourselves reject Him. Our peace must be entrusted to Him alone.
In the Divine Comedy, Dante reaches the Heaven of the Moon in Paradiso III, where he encounters the soul of Piccarda. Dante asks her if some souls in heaven might be disappointed that they do not have a higher place. Piccarda responds with one of the greatest phrases ever penned or uttered:
E ’n la sua volontade è nostra pace….
In His will is our peace.
It is that sea to which all things move,
both what it creates and what nature makes…
Speaking of what God commands, when we obey God, and we act in accordance with what He intends for us, we have peace. As Piccarda points out, if we are exactly at the right place according to God’s will, how can we possibly sense any lack of something such that it diminishes our happiness? If it’s God’s will that I be in this state here and now, that, for me, is peace. In doing God’s will, according to my state in life, I can find peace even when I suffer. We pray to “love what You command”. This is a prayer for happiness.
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