Thanks for joining me as we Lectio the Liturgy, with the Collect for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. This prayer dates back to the Verona Sacramentary from the 6th Century. The Church has been praying this prayer for over well over 1,000 years. This connection to centuries of saints in our past is one thing that I really love about the liturgy.
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. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
I never miss the opportunity to review faith, hope, and charity. These theological virtues relate directly to God. “They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life.” (CCC1813)
Faith comes from knowing who God is and remembering what he has done and promised. The Catechism states that “we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith ‘man freely commits his entire self to God.’” (CCC1814)
With hope we look to the future, confident that what God has done before, he will do again. “We desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.” (See CCC1817)
Charity is what bridges faith and hope. In paragraph 1822 of the Catechism, we learn that “we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” It is this love for God that give us confident faith and hope.
How do faith, hope, and charity fit together? Let’s look to Moses for an example. Moses had faith in God because not only did God tell him what would come to pass, God gave Moses signs that what he said is true. That faith gave Moses hope in God’s promises, that what God said would come about would actually happen. It was his love for God, or charity, that bridged his faith and hope.
“Make us love what you command” sounds really countercultural, doesn’t it? In the Latin form of the prayer, the word for “make” is “fac” or “facio” and means create, fashion, or produce by growth. To love what God commands requires us to have faith, hope, and charity. An example of this is found in Mary. Mary had great faith, she knew that God promised to send a Savior, she knew how God had always provided for his people. Her charity, or love for God, upheld her hope that God would fulfill his promise. It was her faith, hope, and charity that gave her not only the courage, but the desire, to say yes to God’s invitation to be the mother of his son.
Next, let’s note the two “loves” in this prayer. In the Latin form of the prayer, the word for charity is caritatis, meaning high price. Charity is the virtue given to us by God that enables us to love God above all things.
In the second love, found in the phrase to “love what God commands,” the word used is “amare.” It means to be fond of, or find pleasure in. It is a virtue that we can choose to increase in, although we still need charity. Charity “upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love.” (CCC1827)
I find it exciting when there is an Acccrue in the prayer. The Accrue is the “so that”, which, in the parts of speech, is a subjective conjunction; it is subjective, or dependent, it doesn’t stand alone. What that means for this prayer is to merit God’s promises depends on our increase in faith, hope, and charity and loving God’s commands.
Lectio the Liturgy: What has God given you in the past that made your faith grow? It may be a scripture passage, a song, or a word from a friend. Did you notice how your love for God and your hope in him also grew? Ask God for an opportunity this week to experience him in an increase of faith, hope and charity. Notice how your increase in these virtues form us to love God’s commands even more.