For this 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (the purple-draped, pre-Lent Sexagesima Sunday in our traditional Roman calendar) we have a Collect based on a prayer in the 8th c. Liber sacramentorum Gellonensis (but not in the 1962 Missale Romanum) for the Sunday after Ascension Thursday… yes, Thursday, not Ascension Thursday Sunday.
Deus, qui te in rectis et sinceris manere pectoribus asseris,
da nobis tua gratia tales exsistere,
in quibus habitare digneris.
Pectus signifies a range of things from “the breast bone, chest”, “stomach” and therefore moral concepts like “courage” and other “feelings, dispositions”. It also refers to the “spirit, soul, mind, understanding.” In the ancient world, the heart was thought in some ways to be the seat also of the mind and understanding, not just of feelings and emotions. It is reasonable to translate this as “upright and pure hearts”. Exsisto “to step out, emerge” and also “spring forth, proceed, arise, become.” It also means “to be visible or manifest in any manner, to exist, to be.”
O God, who declared that You remain in upright and pure hearts,
grant us to manifest ourselves to be, by Your grace, the sort of people
in whom You deign to abide.
NEW CORRECTED ICEL (2011):
O God, who teach us that you abide
in hearts that are just and true,
grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace
as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.
I think they did a back-flip here to avoid using the word “deign”. We need more “deigning”.
OBSOLETE ICEL (1973):
God our Father,
you have promised to remain for ever
with those who do what is just and right.
Help us to live in your presence.
No reference to “grace”, even though it is at the heart of the original.
In today’s Collect the distinction between “be” and “show forth” is tissue thin.
We must be on the outside what we are inside. Or rather, outwardly pious and practicing Christians must be sincerely and truly on the inside what we strive to show on the outside.
At baptism the Holy Spirit enters our lives in the manner of one coming to dwell in a temple.
With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit comes “habitual” or sanctifying grace and all His gifts and fruits by which we live both inwardly and outwardly in conformity with His presence. We manifest His presence outwardly when He is present within. There is nothing we do to merit this gift of His presence and yet, mysteriously, we still have a role to play in His deigning to dwell in our souls. We can make choices about our lives. We can make use of the gifts and graces God gives, allow Him to make our hands strong enough to hold on to all He deigns to bequeath, and then cooperate in His bringing all good things to completion.
That phrase in today’s prayer, in the literal rendering, “the sort of people in whom you have deigned to dwell” forces us to reflect on our treatment of and conduct towards our neighbor, whom Christ commands us to love in accord with our love of God and self.
Paul writes in 2 Cor 13:11-13:
“Finally, brethren, farewell. Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
Of this verse St. John Chrysostom (+407) said,
“What is a holy kiss? It is one that not hypocritical, like the kiss of Judas. The kiss is given in order to stimulate love and instill the right attitude in us toward each other. When we return after an absence, we kiss each other, for our souls hasten to bond together. But there is something else which might be said about this. We are the temple of Christ, and when we kiss each other we are kissing the porch and the entrance of the temple.” (Homilies on the Letters of Paul to the Corinthians 30.2).
When we reflect on our treatment of other as temples, we might think about our comportment when “kissing the porch” within temples, our churches.
In the Ordinary Form, the “sign of peace” before Communion is an option a priest can chose or not chose to invoke. Given its proximity to Communion, and given that the Blessed Sacrament is upon the altar, avoid long, distracting, undignified “signs of peace”, which are the formal liturgical echo of the “holy kiss” of which Paul speaks.
In Roman liturgical practice, the “kiss of peace” has a dignity which we might strive to reclaim.