Acknowledging that this Sunday is, traditionally, Quinquagesima, and that Lent is around the corner, let’s peek at the Collect for the upcoming Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, ut, semper rationabilia meditantes, quae tibi sunt placita, et dictis exsequamur et factis.
A biblical source for part of the oration could be John 8:28-29. Note the spiffy separation of et dictis … et factis by the verb. Rationabilis is an adjective meaning “reasonable, rational”.
Whenever I sing this prayer I am reminded of another attributed to St Thomas Aquinas which we students, trying to be rational beings (cf Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics 1,13), recited before philosophy classes: “Concede mihi, miséricors Deus, quae tibi sunt plácita, ardenter concupíscere, prudenter investigáre, veráciter agnóscere, et perfecte adimplére ad laudem et gloriam Nominis tui. Amen.” (“Grant me, O merciful God, to desire eagerly, to investigate prudently, to acknowledge sincerely, and perfectly to fulfil those things which are pleasing to Thee, to the praise and glory of Thy Name. Amen.”)
When we submit to God’s will and pursue what is good and true and beautiful, we are as God wants us to be.
Current ICEL translation for the Collect: “Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you.”
I lean towards “rational things” for rationabilia. The official translation offers “spiritual things”, which is reasonable. The French language dictionary of liturgical Latin by Blaise and Dumas proposes “spirituel” for rationabilis, citing the forerunner of this very Collect from the 8th-century Gregorian Sacramentary.
We are made in the image and likeness of God. We are made to act like God acts, using the intellect and will He gave us. These faculties are wounded because of Original Sin, but they still separate us from irrational animals. Thus, we can distinguish between “acts of humans” (such as breathing and digesting) that are no different than what brute animals do, and “human acts” (like painting, repairing a car, conversing, choosing to love) which involve the use of the higher faculties. We must be interiorly engaged and focused with mind and will on the action we, as agents in God’s image, are carrying out.
Don’t just drift, or act on poorly considered impulses. Examine your circumstances and make plans. If this is important for daily life, it is especially important for your path towards heaven, your eternal life.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.