WDTPRS – 32nd Ordinary Sunday: Our Identity and Extreme Ownership


Let’s look at the Collect for the 32nd Ordinary Sunday, keeping that Sunday, 11 Nov 2018 – the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day – is Veterans Day (observed on Monday).

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Sunday’s Collect has an antecedent in the Gelasian Sacramentary, is also used in the Extraordinary Form on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost.

Omnipotens et misericors Deus, universa nobis adversantia propitiatus exclude, ut, mente et corpore pariter expediti, quae tua sunt liberis mentibus exsequamur.

Adversantia is from adverso(r), “to stand opposite to one, to be against, resist, oppose (in his opinions, feelings, intentions, etc.)”. Resistere denotes resistance through external action.   The distinction of “internal” and “external” is useful in understanding our prayer.  We are challenged from without, but the greatest challenges come from within.  We must constantly cope with the unreconstructed effects of original sin and also the diabolical workings of the Enemy, who stirs up passions and memories, and who implants wicked thoughts and images.   Holy Church prays at Compline every night (in the Extraordinary Form): “Be sober and vigilant: for your adversary (adversarius) the devil is going around like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour: whom you must resist (resistite), strong in the faith.”  (1 Peter 5:8).

Expediti, is from expedio meaning,“to extricate, disengage, set free”, and when applied to persons, “to be without baggage”.  Thus, an expeditus, is “a soldier lightly burdened, a swiftly marching soldier.” You might have heard of St Expeditus (feast day 19 April), patron saint of procrastinators and, for reasons perfectly clear to me, computer programmers.  St Expeditus is depicted as a Roman solider holding aloft a Cross.  I am sure you are now praying to Expeditus that I will stop this digression and swiftly march on.  That quae tua sunt is, literally, “things which are yours”.  There isn’t room here to get into why but this phrase refers to things God wills or commands.  Think of when the young Jesus told His Mother and Joseph, “I must be about my Father’s business” (cf Luke 2:49).


Almighty and merciful God, having been appeased, keep away from us all things opposing us, so that, having been unencumbered in mind and body equally, we may with free minds accomplish the things which you will.


Almighty and merciful God, graciously keep from us all adversity, so that, unhindered in mind and body alike, we may pursue in freedom of heart the things that are yours.

OBSOLETE (1973):

God of power and mercy, protect us from all harm. Give us freedom of spirit and health in mind and body to do your work on earth.

This Collect appears also in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1742 in the section on “Human Freedom in the Economy of Salvation”:

“Almighty and merciful God, in your goodness take away from us all that is harmful, so that, made ready both in mind and body, we may freely accomplish your will.”

Our Collect this week provides us with military language consonant with the three-fold understanding of Holy Church as Militant, Suffering, and Triumphant.

navy SEAL gearWe are presented as lightly burdened foot soldiers (expediti) on an urgent mission.  We are beset by enemies and obstacles (adversantia).   Before battles soldiers would shed their heavier gear in order to move more freely.

By grueling and repetitious training, their bodies are strengthened and hardened.  Because of tedious drills, their minds are freed up (liberis mentibus).

Though they are afraid, they act when their commanders are sure, true, courageous.

This is the ideal for the soldier.  It must be the Christian ideal too.

Virtues are habits developed over time by repetition and discipline.  Our Church’s pastors are our officers who will lead us through adversities towards our objective of heaven.

There are times in the Church’s history that our officers fail us badly or they fall.  When they fall, it is time for the non-coms to take their place, and so forth.  In time of need, we have to step up and get the job done without whining, without hesitation.  That means that  all of us, at every level, need to know who we are and what our objectives are.  We have to be, all of us, on board with those objectives and be committed to them.  We have to know who we are and what we are about.  Our identity is critical to our operational success.

We must learn and review the content of our Faith, especially in the fundamentals. With discipline and dedication we must frequent the sacraments.  We must practice our Faith so that it is so much a part of us that it carries us through even the worst moments we face.

For a while people criticized education by memorization and repetition.  They claimed that children just mouth things they don’t understand.  On the other hand, though they might not understand them at the moment, one day in the future they do.  When they need it, they remember something important because, long ago, someone made them learn it.

Soldiers, sailors, marines gripe during basic training and entertain homicidal thoughts about their drill instructors.  Not a few return to their instructors later and thank them.  When the time came for that skill or tool or piece of knowledge to be used in a critical moment, they had it.  That us, you know.  We have to have our catechism cold and we need to be able to repeat it, explain it, demonstrate it with easy.   If we can’t… who are we?  What are we for our brethren?  Our children?  Our flocks?

We are pilgrim soldiers of the Church Militant.  Our march is perilous. To reach heaven, we need training, discipline, nourishment.

We need leadership from courageous bishops and priests who drill us, who say “NO!”, who say “GO!”

We need a trumpet certain and clear.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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6 Responses to WDTPRS – 32nd Ordinary Sunday: Our Identity and Extreme Ownership

  1. John the Mad says:

    They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
    Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
    They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
    They fell with their faces to the foe.

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.
    (Laurence Binyon – excerpt “From the Fallen”)

    May perpetual light shine upon them.

    John the Mad CD, Major (Ret’d) Canadian Forces

  2. JMody says:

    Fr. Z, I had a liberis mentibus moment during my second semester at [a service academy], griping to myself about having to check a flag that would tell me which overcoat to wear. I suddenly felt a shudder as if I had been hit with a snowball or a bunch of broken glass –> I realized that I was so completely dominated that I was, in fact, free. I needn’t worry about what to eat when to eat where to go what to wear … because all that had been taken away, and my mind was free.

  3. JMody says:

    Fr. Z, I had a liberis mentibus moment during my second semester at [a service academy], griping to myself about having to check a flag that would tell me which overcoat to wear. I suddenly felt a shudder as if I had been hit with a snowball or a bunch of broken glass –> I realized that I was so completely dominated that I was, in fact, free. I needn’t worry about what to eat when to eat where to go what to wear … because all that had been taken away, and my mind was free.

  4. hwriggles4 says:

    Fr. Z:

    I always appreciate your patriotism. This summer, I was in Minneapolis-St. Paul visiting family, and I took the time to stop by the Fort Snelling National Cemetery. There, I visited the gravesite of Fr. Timothy Vakoc (MAJ, CHC, USAR). I took a photograph of his grave and spent about 30 minutes visiting and praying the Rosary at his gravesite. (I couldn’t figure out how to attach a small JPEG photo here of Fr. Tim’s grave).

    Our Knights of Columbus Council is doing a Veteran’s Day Breakfast with a program after the early morning Mass tomorrow.

    For those who have served – THANK YOU.

  5. OssaSola says:

    “Know your Catechism cold.” Yes. I’d read the modern catechism cover to cover but recently felt the need to do more. To that end, I’ve begun to read the catechism of Trent and hope to read it daily until I’ve read that as well. Given the bizarre homilies we’re hearing ever since the priests here were all ordered to attend a ” Homily Workshop”, I suspect there will be less and less solid teaching coming from that sector.

  6. Semper Gumby says:

    Thank you for this reflection on the Church Militant.

    The uniform and equipment worn by the Navy Seal above reflect, in part anyway, the course of human events since the woolen uniform and bolt-action rifle of 1918.

    Though, some things are timeless, such as the story of Sgt. Alvin York U.S. Army (1887-1964). Gary Cooper portrayed Alvin York in the 1941 film “Sergeant York.”

    Alvin York lived in the backwoods of Tennessee before WW I. He was a skilled marksman who tried to provide for his younger brothers and sisters. He was also a hard-drinking, hard-fighting young man. As one can imagine, he was a bit of a scourge to the townsfolk.

    About the time WW I began York had a religious experience. York now decided that he was a pacifist and a conscientious objector. He was drafted in 1917 and excelled during basic training in Georgia, but he was conflicted about reconciling Christianity and military service.

    York eventually spoke with several officers about his future in the Army. They granted York a ten-day pass to return home for further reflection. During those ten days York read the Bible and a history of the United States; he spent time with family and in solitude; he considered his responsibilities to his neighbors and to his friends in the barracks from across the country.

    Alvin York returned to his infantry unit, sailed to France, and went to war against Imperial Germany. In 1918 he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat during which he killed a number of Germans but took prisoner far more.

    Well, movies such as “Sergeant York” aren’t made often these days. Hollywood has changed alot since then. Though, confronting our own identity and confronting malevolent ideologies remains timeless.

    [And there’s the movie Hacksaw Ridge. US HERE – UK HERE]