Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

The First Sunday of Advent: New Meditations with the Third Typical Edition

The United States this evening begins our new liturgical year with of course New Year’s. And our New Year’s gift?  The Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. The fruit of the second Vatican Council is finally realized in Holy Mass.

I thought that we could start off this New Year’s with a resolution to pray the Divine Liturgy better. So, for the next year I am committed to looking at a portion of the Divine Liturgy each Saturday to prepare myself for “full and active participation” in Holy Mass. Should the Lord permit I will share some of the nuggets that find a place into my heart. Hopefully, they may also bear some fruit for you.

Just for kicks and giggles I have also provided for comparison the now abrogated First Typical Edition text. I think that you will agree that the revised translation provides richer material and tradition for meditation.

The Collect

First Typical Edition (1973)

God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.

Third Typical Edition (2011)

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Some Nuggets for Meditation

Notice that the 2011 Collect begins by reminding us that we gather our prayers into one before not just God but Almighty God. There is no limit to His power. Creation, keeping all that is in existence, and answering our every prayer requires no effort on His part. The Collect also properly addresses what the will needs – resolution.

The Third Typical Edition also specifically tells us that we are to present to Christ our righteous deeds which is far more than just doing good. Righteous deeds are those deeds that are imbued by grace and are in accordance with His will and statues – not just the mere effort of our own will power or to meet any need we see before us. As Pope Benedict has said on numerous occassions, people do not need an social service organization but Christ Himself.

We are encouraged to run. Run what? The race of course. This is not by accident. The prayer should immediately bring a number Scriptures to mind:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.      (1 Corinthians 9: 24-25)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12: 1-2)

For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4: 6-8)

The Collect also does not leave us without instructions for the race. We are to gather at His right hand. The 1973 Collect calls us to God’s side. My question is, “To His left or right?” God’s right hand is not only a symbol of our privileged place by virtue of being part of the mystical body of Christ but the right hand of power. The hand of Christ has also pledged the power of Christ to assist us through our life if we are but willing to accept His grace. Why do we need His power? Because on our own we are unable to possess heaven:

…they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.

Of course, the revised Collect ends with the traditional invocation of the Most Blessed Trinity. Notice in contrast to the 1973 version the revised Collect is directed specifically to God the Father. This is most prominently seen in the doxology as the celebrant prays,

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

And so, our forty-year wait has ended. A richer text that throws the ancient maxim: lex ordani, lex credendi into high definition. My youngest children will never no the difference but we who feel parched now have a new wine in the Roman Missal to drink deeply from. Happy New Year!

Leave a reply