Here is this week’s Collect, for the 6th Sunday of Easter in the Ordinary Form:
Fac nos, omnipotens Deus, hos laetitiae dies, quos in honorem Domini resurgentis exsequimur, affectu sedulo celebrare, ut quod recordatione percurrimus semper in opere teneamus.
This is glued together from bits and pieces gleaned from prayers in the ancient Veronese and Gelasian Sacramentary.
That doesn’t mean that it’s not a good prayer.
Affectus means “a state or disposition of mind, mood” or “affection” in the sense of “love, desire, fondness” etc. Sedulus, is “busy, diligent, careful”. There is also an adverb, sedulo. Teneo has connotations of “to grasp”, both in the physical and intellectual senses. Recordatio is “a recalling to mind”. It betokens bringing something back to the heart (cor).
SLAVISHLY LITERAL RENDERING:
Almighty God, cause us to celebrate these days of joy, which we are carrying out in honor of the rising Lord with zealous affection, so that we may grasp in performance what we are traversing in remembrance.
We could even say something like “busy love” for that affectus sedulus.
CURRENT ICEL (2011):
Grant, almighty God, that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these days of joy, which we keep in honor of the risen Lord, and that what we relive in remembrance we may always hold to in what we do.
In our Collect we call up from memory and call to mind (heart – cor) gifts that are so important that they must summon forth concrete responses from here and now. Certainly this is true during Holy Mass, when the priest does what Our Lord commanded us as a Church to do: “Do this in memory (commemoratio) of me.”
Allow me to digress a little about the concept of “memory”.
St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) makes a connection between recordatio and memoria in a letter to his childhood friend and fellow convert Nebridius (ep. 7).
For Augustine, memory was the place of encounter between the self and God in what he calls beata vita, the “blessed life”, which refer to the happiness that comes from unity with God.
When looking for ways to explain the Trinity and to recognize Its reflection mirrored in man himself, Augustine personifies (hypostasizes) memory, intellect and will, having memory correspond to God the Father.
For Augustine, memory was both the locus of the self as well as the faculty that connects the here and now with the past and future. Memory is therefore a sort of “vanishing point”, constantly slipping away into the past.
It is also where the self and God and are found together.
God keeps us from vanishing into something even less than a memory!
Our liturgical commemoration during Mass is more than a simple “remembrance of things past.” The rising of the Lord (symbolized by the reuniting of Christ’s Body and Blood when the priest drops the small particle broken from the Host back the chalice) means that we also, even in this earthly life, are rising in Him.
We are risen, rising, and about to rise all at the same time.
We must respond in concrete ways with gratitude for the gift of life, the gift of being in God’s image, the gift of the dignity this image gives us, the gift Our Lord gave us when He opened again the way to communion with the Trinity and the Beatific Vision.
Good works performed by the baptized in charity and in conscious unity with Christ, are simultaneously our acts and His acts. As Benedict XVI spelled out in Caritas in veritate, there is a difference between doing good and kind things for people in need and performing true works of mercy. The difference lies in caritas, the love that is charity.
In works of mercy performed in true charity, we experience a liberation, a freeing from the past, present, and even the future. Christians remember who they are – and remind or teach others – by submitting to Christ in the service of others.
I bang on all the time about the essential importance of sacred liturgical worship for our proper Catholic identity. However, I also bang on about the importance of spiritual and corporal works of mercy for our proper Catholic identity. They are hand in glove. Worship leads us to mercy which leads us to worship which guides us to mercy which returns us to worship which prompts us to mercy which urges us to worship….
Honor the Lord and thank Him for the the risen, rising, about to rise mysteries of Easter with busy love.