There’s something about the prayers of the Mass that makes them come alive like Scripture. You can read them and something speaks to you. When you go back, they’re completely different. That’s what happened to me since the last time I meditated on this prayer, the Collect for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
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.
We, God’s family, are asking for his safekeeping. I thought a lot about what this would be like, and what came to my mind was the Holy Family, Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus.
In Matthew 2 we read that in a dream, God told Joseph to take the Child to Egypt to escape Herod, who had ordered that all children under the age of two must be killed. Joseph and Mary packed up and left for Egypt in the dark of night.
We’d like to think that the journey went without a hitch, however, in the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, we learn that wasn’t the case.
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich was a mystic, someone who is given a deep spiritual understanding. She experienced visions about the Holy Family, the life of Mary and even Mary Magdalene. She was considered to be a simple nun and passed away in 1824. Her visions were the inspiration of the movie, The Passion of the Christ.
In some of her visions, Blessed Anne saw the Holy Family experiencing long days of travel. They would run out of water and food would be scarce. They encountered robbers. Things weren’t easy, yet God kept them safe. In places where they were in need of water and there was none to be found, a well sprung up from the ground. God gave them fresh water to drink and Mary could bathe her Son.
From one day to the next, the Holy Family was never assured of their next meal, a place to rest, or work for Joseph, but God kept them safe.
Sometimes when we ask for God’s protection, we expect to walk on a smooth easy path. I don’t know what Joseph and Mary expected, but they did not travel on a bed of roses. All they had to go on was their reliance on was God’s grace, and He never let them down.
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. Propped up. What a great way to visualize the way that God wants us to rely on him.
Sometimes our road may be hard, the challenges great, or we may become tired and want to give up on hope. Yet when all we have left is to rely on God, we allow him to make himself known. When we are weak, he is strong and it is quite possible that what God has in mind is to use our weak humanness to show his power.
Take a look at the words that describe God’s promises: He will keep us safe, he has unfailing care, and we will be always defended by his protection. All we we have to do is be propped up by the hope of heavenly grace.
Thanks for phrasing with me,