Thanks for praying with me as we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. By the way, Ordinary Time is just about over. Next week we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The following week we celebrate a new year in the Church with the first Sunday of Advent.
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, God, for ever and ever.
Perhaps your first question is the same as mine, “Why is constant in the prayer twice with the words constant and constancy?” Good question! As I studied the original Latin translation of the prayer, I learned that the words are different and yet the same.
Constant, which we find in the phrase “constant gladness,” is “semper” in the Latin translation. It is defined as “at all times.” We are asking God that at all times we are filled with the gladness, or joy, of being devoted to him.
The word devoted is one I assumed that I knew the definition for. I would describe it as being loyal. Used in that sense, we’re devoted to a lot of things, a favorite saint or a favorite sports team. Some people are devoted to specific prayers or devotions. However, in the Latin translation of the prayer, devoted is “devotione” and it takes the meaning to a deeper level. It implies that the devotion is something we consecrate or sacrifice for.
In this case, our devotedness is for God and it’s deep. With this devotion we sacrifice for God, we make him the priority in our life. When all our focus is on him, we are always filled with joy.
We find the reason for our request in the next phrase, “for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good.” We are looking for full and lasting happiness. This happiness doesn’t come cheap. It requires our service to God. We will experience the happiness IF we serve God.
This is where we find the second constant: “happiness to serve with constancy.” In the Latin prayer, the word for constancy is perpetua and it means uninterrupted, or continuous.
First found in the Verona Sacramentary dating back to the 5th Century, this prayer was originally used in the daily readings for July, However, I find it quite fitting to close out the year with this prayer. As an old year passes, and we look forward to the new, the prayer gives us a reminder of the things that last, the things that are unending, the things of God. We strive for constant gladness, and in our desire for lasting happiness, we continually serve our God.
Here’s a fun fact about this prayer: This week we find references to two saints. Perhaps you recognized perpetua, which is constancy. In the Latin translation of the prayer, the word used for happiness is felicitas. Saints Perpetua and Felicity, pray for us!
Lectio the Liturgy: Meditate on the prayer using the definitions given for constant, constancy, and devotion. How does that change the prayer for you? What is the highest form of service you can give to God? While visit the sick, or donating to the poor may come to mind, don’t forget to look inward. Becoming the person he created you to be and living your vocation are two ways to offer right sacrifice to God. Both of these will require spending time with him in prayer and in scripture.
Thanks for praying with me!