Thanks for praying with me as we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
This prayer goes back a long way in our liturgy. It is first found in the 8th Century Hadrianum Sacramentary. A sacramentary is the book of prayers that a priest prays at mass.
Keep your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care, that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace, they may be defended always by your protection. 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.
This prayer reminds me of the poetry of the Psalms. The poetry of the Psalms doesn’t rhyme in sound as traditional poetry does, but instead they rhyme in thought or meaning, which is known as 'parallelism'. Parallelism is when a poetic line consists of two or three parts which run parallel to each other.
For example, in Psalm 138:1, we read, “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth…” The next part of that verse carries the same thought “In the presence of the angels I will sing your praise; I will worship at your holy temple and give thanks to your name.”
The first part of this week’s prayer, “Keep your family safe with unfailing care” is repeated in “on the hope of heavenly grace, they may be defended always by your protection.” Do you see the echo?
We pray that God will keep us safe by his protection, and a definition of God’s “unfailing care” is “heavenly grace.”
That leaves us with the words "relying solely." In the Latin translation of the prayer, the word for rely is “innititur.” It means to lean, or support oneself on. Basically, it means to be propped up.
That’s a great visual, isn’t it? If something is propped up, it is neither vertical nor horizontal. All of its support depends on something else.
It’s something like an infant in a Boppy pillow. A Boppy pillow looks like a donut with one bite taken out of it. One of the uses of a Boppy is to supports a baby who doesn’t want to lay down but who isn’t strong enough to sit up on their own. It props them up.
A Boppy pillow is also a great visual on our relying solely on God’s heavenly grace. We don’t need to lay down, we need help sitting up, we prop ourselves up God’s grace. As I was thinking about relying solely, I realized that it sure is easier said than done, maybe because we think that rely also means trust.
Have you ever thought about the difference between rely and trust? To rely, or being propped up, is different than committing all of your life and your confidence to God’s keeping.
This week as we Lectio the Liturgy, explore that difference. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of the times when you relied on God. Learning to rely on God and imagining yourself propped up by him, can lead to a trust fall with God, where you fall back without looking behind, knowing God won’t let you down.
Thanks for praying with me.