I can’t think of a time when it was more important to beg God for mercy and aid, with bent knees, face to the ground.
In the reformed calendar, we have moved into the Time called “Ordinary”, by which we mean “ordered”, not “unexceptional”. We might say also, “sequential”.
In the traditional calendar of the Extraordinary Form, this is the “Time through the year”, divided into time after Epiphany and after Pentecost. However, this terminology, “Tempus per annum … time through the year”, remained also in the Novus Ordo calendar.
Ordinary Time embraces the sacral cycle of Lent and Eastertide like bookends and stretches from the adoration of the heavenly infant King by earthly kings to the Solemnity of Christ the King who will come as Judge to separate the tares from the wheat and usher in the unending reign of peace.
This Sunday’s Collect, for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, is also in the 1962 Missale Romanum for the Second Sunday after Epiphany.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
qui caelestia simul et terrena moderaris,
supplicationibus populi tui clementer exaudi,
et pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus.
We often ask when we pray in Latin that God will pay attention, usually by “hearing” us. Exaudio signifies “listen to” in the sense of “perceive clearly.” The imperative exaudi is more urgent than a simple audi (the imperative of audio, not the car). Think of the beginning of one of our Litanies: “Christe audi nos… Christe exaudi nos…” often translated as “Christ hear us… Christ graciously hear us.”
For the ancient Romans a supplicatio was a solemn religious ceremony in thanksgiving for a victory or prayer in the face of danger. It is related to supplex, an adjective for the position of a beggar, on bended knees or prostration.
Tempus obviously means “time”. It also means “the appointed time, the right season, an opportunity (Greek kairos)”. Tempus gives us “temporal”, that is, worldly or earthly things, material things, as opposed to sacred, eternal or spiritual. Plural tempora can also mean the “temples” of our heads, as well as “the times”, our “state of affairs”.
Almighty eternal God,
who at the same time do govern things heavenly and earthly,
mercifully hearken to the supplications of Your people,
and in our temporal affairs grant Your peace.
OBSOLETE ICEL (1973):
Father of heaven and earth,
hear our prayers, and show us the way
to peace in the world.
CURRENT ICEL (2011):
Almighty ever-living God,
who govern all things,
both in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the pleading of your people
and bestow your peace on our times.
We beg God, omnipotent sempiternal disposer of all things, for peace in our temporal affairs here and now, not just later in heaven. We do not want just any peace. We want the peace which comes from Him.
“Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled: nor let it be afraid” (John 14:27 DR).
Christians are confident. Christ will give us His peace. He said so. But He won’t force peace on us.
The temporal peace the world offers and the peace that God bestows are different, though they can be harmonized when the temporal is subordinated to the heavenly.
The goods (and ills) of this world are passing and fragile, always susceptible to loss. The goods of heaven are enduring and dependable. No finite, passing, created thing or person can provide lasting joy or eternal peace: they will be lost through theft and wear, time and death. Our wealth, family, health, appearance and reputation can be lost in the blink of an eye.
To put a creature in God’s place is foolhardy idolatry and a sin. Love God, above all. Practice making His will your own. As Piccarda tells Dante in the Divine Comedy,
“In His will is our peace. It is that sea to which all things move, both what it creates and what nature makes” (Par 3.85).
God knew each one of us outside of time, before the creation of both the visible and invisible universe. He called us into existence at a precise moment in His eternal plan. He gives us all something to do in His plan together with the talents and graces to do it. When we cooperate with Him, submit our wills to His, make His plan for us our own, God then makes us strong enough to carry it out. God knows our needs better than we do. Turn confidently to Him in prayer. Ask Him for the graces, and with them peace, which He alone can give.
Sin shatters His peace. Peace can be regained in the Sacrament of Penance.
We ask God to bless us in this new year of salvation. Let us beg Him to give aid to all who suffer.
With bent knees and with foreheads to the ground, bodies and wills both bent in supplication, beg His graces and His peace.