WDTPRS – 5th Ordinary Sunday: The clarion clear call

This Sunday’s Collect is in the pre-Conciliar Missal for the 5th Sunday after Epiphany.

Our prayer presents imagery of a family and, on the other hand, of soldiers.

Familiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine,
continua pietate custodi,
ut, quae in sola spe gratiae caelestis innititur,
tua semper protectione muniatur

Custodio, common in military contexts, means “to watch, protect, defend.”  Innitor, also with military overtones, means “to lean or rest upon, to support one’s self by any thing.”  Caesar and Livy describe soldiers leaning on their spears and shields (e.g., “scutis innixi … leaning upon their shields” Caesar, De bello Gallico 2.27).   Munio, is a military term – sensing a theme? – for walling up something up, putting it in a state of defense.

When applied to us humans, pietas, which gives us “piety”, is “dutiful conduct toward the gods, one’s parents, relatives, benefactors, country, etc., sense of duty.”  Pietas is also one of the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (cf CCC 733-36; Isaiah 11:2), by which we are duly affectionate and grateful toward our parents, relatives and country, as well as to all men living insofar as they belong to God or are godly, and especially to the saints.  In common parlance, “piety” indicates fulfilling the duties of religion.

However, applied to God, pietas usually indicates His mercy towards us.


Guard Your family, we beseech You, O Lord,
with continual mercy,
so that that (family) which is propping itself up upon the sole hope of heavenly grace
may always be defended by Your protection.


watch over your family
and keep us safe in your care,
for all our hope is in you.

Look at this contrast!


Keep your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care,
that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace,
they may be defended always by your protection.

“Watch over your family, …with continual mercy/religious dutifulness,…” invokes the images soldiers as well as that of a father checking into the bedrooms of his children as they sleep.  He listens through the night for sounds of distress or need.

The Church is not afraid to combine images of family and soldiering, the symbiotic exchange of duty, obedience and protection. Putting the military imagery in relief helps us to hold both sets of images in mind as we hear Father lift our Collect heavenward during Holy Mass.

We Catholics are both a family, children of a common Father, and a Church Militant, a corps (from Latin corpus, “body”).

Many of us when we were confirmed by bishops as “soldiers of Christ” were given a blow on the cheek as a reminder of what suffering we might face as Christians.

We ought rather die like soldiers than sin in the manner of those who have no gratitude toward God or sense of duty.

We ought to desire to suffer if necessary for the sake of those in our charge.

In this Collect we beg the protection and provisions Christ our King can give us soldiers while on the march.  We need a proper attitude of obedience toward God, our ultimate superior, and dutifulness toward our shepherds in the Church, our earthly parents, our earthly country, etc.

Our prayer reminds us that we belong to communities in which we have unequal roles.

There is a profound interconnection between the members of a family, but also inequality.

Children are no less members of the family than their parents, but they are not their parents’ equals. Even the young Jesus– the God man – was subject to Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:51).  As Glorious Risen King and Judge, Christ will subject all things to the Father (1 Cor 15:27-28).   We are all members of the Church, but with unequal roles.

As St. Augustine said, “I am a bishop for you, I am a Christian with you” (s. 340, 1).”

Our times are dominated ever more by relativism and the obtuse madness of secular humanism. 

Both the military and the family and Holy Church (the human dimension, of course) are being eroded, systematically broken down, even from within the ranks of the “officer corps”, the Churches “fathers”, priests and bishops.

And… these days… the attacks are mounting on faithful priests and bishops while those who abandon Catholic doctrine and discipline to curry favor with the world (et al.), are praised and elevated.  This is more and more a problem and, one day, it will burst forth in open and vicious persecution, perhaps in the next wave of attacks on the Church’s body of doctrine on moral issues: the coming war on Humanae vitae.

Hierarchy and discipline provide the protection needed by marching troops and growing children.  We members of the Militant Church, disciples of Christ, need discipline and fidelity, dedication, pietas, from our officers/shepherds so we can attain our goal.

We need nourishment and discipline in the sense of instruction (Latin disciplina) and sacraments.

Parents and pastors (priests) must fulfill their own roles toward us with pietas, religious and sacred duty!

Their pietas requires fidelity and, above all, sacrifice, being the first to step out in our defense, forming good plans, sounding a clear and certain trumpet to lead us.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. ReadingLad says:

    Please Father, can we avoid ‘Ordinary Sundays’ (in the post title)? [No. We can’t.] Sundays are special, and even the Novus Ordo acknowledges this! [Sure, they are!] Surely, it’s a ‘Sunday in Ordinary Time’ – highlighting that it’s a Sunday reminds us that it is special…. [Okay.] Thank you for everything else in the post – as active duty military, it struck a special chord with me.

  2. jaykay says:

    ReadingLad: As far as I can make out, the actual title of these Sundays is “per annum”, i.e. Sundays “during the year” and that’s from the I.G.R.M. 2002. “Ordinary Time” doesn’t seem to be in the Latin at all. Could be wrong.

    The Sunday Missal I was given in 1970, for my Confirmation, just after the NO introduction (this was in Ireland, I think it was the same in the U.K. as well) still described them as “Sundays of the Year”. They changed it in 1975 to “Sundays in Ordinary Time”, I believe to coincide with the translations you were using in the U.S., and to be kissy-kissy with the Anglicans/Episcopalians who had something similar.

    You can look up the actual I.G.R.M. of the 2002 M.R. online. I don’t think “Ordinary Time” is there. Then again, “per annum” is an invention of the N.O. It should of course be “after Epiphany”, “after Pentecost” etc. The New Springtime is very Ordinary all right.

  3. Kathleen10 says:

    What is that saying, we should all stick together or we shall all hang separately. These are tough times and perhaps going to be tougher, in these USA. Once Satan is emboldened, as he has clearly been, things ramp up. The animosity of the Leftists is clear, inside and outside the church. We ask God for His protection to all who find themselves on the front line, and yes, we should all be ready to fight and some will pay.
    If President Trump had not been elected, things would be vastly different outside the church. I believe public institutions and corporations would have ended up handing all employees a form to sign, you must support LGBT or get out. If Democrats gain power again, I believe that will happen. Inside the church, that is already being formulated apparently. Many will have to choose whom they will serve, God or the world.

  4. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Today, Father at our church accidentally prayed for His “unfailing hair.”

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    Oh, lol Suburbanbanshee! I wonder what he intended? Too funny.

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