We continue our Lenten journey through the prayers of Holy Mass with today’s
Preces nostras, Domine, propitiatus admitte,
et a terrenis effice illecebris liberatos,
quos caelestibus tribuis servire mysteriis.
This prayer was not in a previous edition of the Missale Romanum, but it has precedent in the Veronese Sacramentary.
Having been propitiated, O Lord, allow our prayers to come to You,
and, cause those whom You are granting to serve the heavenly mysteries
to be people freed from earthly snares.
Notice that we seem simultaneously to be talking about service right now at the altar, but also our continuous service of God in our vocations.
There is a strong contrast here between what is earthly and what is heavenly.
What is earthly is an enticement, a lure, something to bind us and keep us from our true end. The heavenly is our proper goal. The pivotal concept is in servire, "to serve".
Think of the reasoning of little kids. Most of them, if you give them an offer of instantly gain versus postponed reward will take the instant gain. "Okay, forget your chores, you can play that same old game on your X-Box, but your allowance is forfeit. On the other hand, if you do your chores right now and forget about playing for a while, with your saved allowance you can by a new X-Box game that will far more amusing later."
In this life we are offered the constant choice of earthly gain opposed to heavenly reward which is postponed. We must accept the yoke of service, setting aside our appetites and our own will, and striving for something we hold by faith and with hope in contrast to instant rewards we can immediately experience with our senses.
The Lenten discipline helps us to keep this perspective clear and to gain some mastery over those appetites for the bait within the earthly snares.