WDTPRS: 5th Sunday after Pentecost – Snatched up into invisible love

This Sunday’s prayer is at least as old as the Gelasian Sacramentary.  It has survived the post-Conciliar revisions to live again on the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time.  The version in the Novus Ordo, however, adds a comma after ut.

COLLECT – (1962 Missale Romanum):

Deus, qui diligentibus te bona invisibilia praeparasti, infunde cordibus nostris tui amoris affectum; ut te in omnibus et super omnia diligentes, promissiones tuas, quae omne desiderium superant, consequamur.

The insuperable Lewis & Short Dictionary divulges that affectus means “a state of body, and especially of mind produced in one by some influence, a state or disposition of mind, affection, mood: love, desire, fondness, good-will, compassion, sympathy.”  An interesting verb is consequor which means among other things, “pursue, go after, attend, to follow” and also, “to follow a model, copy, obey”.  It conveys, “to follow a preceding cause as an effect, to ensue, result, to be the consequence, to arise or proceed from.”  I am choosing to say “attain.”

There are many words of loving and longing in today’s prayer.  We have diligo, amor, affectus and we have other tangential words like cor, desiderium, promissio.  Diligo is marvelous.  Initially it means, “to value or esteem highly, to love”.  It also carries the impact of “careful, assiduous, attentive, diligent, accurate”, as in our word “diligent”.  Desiderium is “a longing, ardent desire or wish, properly for something once possessed; grief, regret for the absence or loss of any thing [or person].”

O God, who prepares unseen goods for those loving You, pour into our hearts the disposition of Your love, so that we, loving You in all things and above all things, may attain Your promises, which surpass every desire.

This Collect pulses with longing.  When this prayer is pronounced aloud, in Latin, my ears tune in to the connection between invisibilia at the beginning and promissiones at the end.

The concepts in the prayer are presented in a climactic order.

We have a necessary unspoken starting point, logically before the prayer begins: the ways we love on our own, previous to or apart from the new character of the baptized Christian.  This is “natural” love.  The first words of the prayer draw us beyond merely human forms of love.  Those natural loves are transformed with the help of God’s grace.  We ask God to pour into His manner of loving, charity, into our hearts.  It is not that we cannot love in a merely natural, human way.  We desire that how we love may be transformed, raised up.  As we know from our Catholic theological tradition, and it is almost an axiom, “gratia non destruit, sed supponit et perficit naturam… grace does not destroy, but rather supposes and perfects nature” (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh la. 1.8.).   Our human nature was terribly wounded in the Fall from grace, but its essential goodness was not lost.  We can love in our fallen human way, but our loves can be disordered.  Grace builds on our nature, it perfects our way of loving in this life by aligning it with God’s love.

From this building up our our love in this world, then we aim in our prayer at the love awaiting us in heaven, a love beyond anything we experience in this life.  Heaven will complete our every hope and desire and surpass them.  That is how I connect invisibilia, “invisible things” and promissiones, “promises.”  We know they are there for us in heaven, but we cannot attain them yet.  We live in a state of “already but not yet” in regard to our participation in the Resurrection.  What awaits us after our entrance into the Beatific Vision is unimaginable.  We can only gasp and ache after it, long for the completion God promised.

So, I find in this Collect an ascent in and to true Love, indeed to Love personified.  But we should be wary of opposing too strongly natural and supernatural loves.

Human love, sometimes called eros, isn’t automatically contrary to “religious love”.  We are human beings, not angels.  We must avoid on the one hand the extreme of trying to profane what is supernatural by locking it into the finite, and on the other hand desiring only and purely supernatural love in this life, which would render us ineffective and powerless.  We find fulfillment of our good earthly loves in the perfect love which is only in God.  Grace builds on nature, it doesn’t destroy it.

Pope Benedict, in Deus caritas est  … God is love, his first encyclical signed on Christmas Day of 2005, reflects among other things on ancient, technical Greek terms for different kinds of love: eros and agapeEros and agape have different shades of meaning.  Agape is self-giving love.  Think of it in terms of “descending”, emptying oneself for the sake of giving to another. Eros (whence the word “erotic”) is a love which seeks to receive, to be filled from another. Think in terms of ascending, seeking to rise to fulfillment.

Both of these loves, eros and agape, are inherently good.  However, because of our fallen nature, eros can be corrupted to the disordered love of mere appetite or passion or grasping use, even in the sexual sense.  In a way, eros and agape are two dimensions of a complete love, which foresees and both giving and receiving.  Eros must be complemented with agape and elevated to the spiritual sense of Christian love, the Catholic sense of charity.  The proper integration of the love which is self-emptying and that which is self-fulfilling, which gives and which takes, comes from the infusion of God’s own love in grace.  There is a human dimension which is indispensable, but which can be complete only with God’s help.  God builds on our love, perfects it.

We therefore long for Love, we reach out to it, thirsting for its fullness, its completing, healing, transforming power.  As St. Augustine (+430) wrote in his Confessions, “our hearts are restless” until they come to their proper resting place, their fulfillment in God’s love.

In redeeming us, God does not unmake us.  He lifts up who and what we are and makes us whole again.  This is the promise which helps us live and hope in this vale of tears.  Think of the Preface for the Mass for Christmas, the day Pope Benedict signed Deus caritas est, the celebration of Love Incarnate:

“For through the mystery of the incarnate Word, the new light of Your glory dazzled the eyes of our mind, so that while we know God visibly, through Him we may be snatched up into invisible love… (in invisibilem amorem rapiamur).”

Richard of St. Victor said: “Love is the eye and to love is to see.”

Love is the key to seeing what, rather, the one who, is otherwise unseeable.  This kind of love, which seeks to give as well as to receive, which is raised to a new supernatural order by grace, also allows us to see what is loveable in our neighbor, despite our human frailty.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Thanks Fr. Z.

    From “Finer Femininity,” Abp. Fulton Sheen:

    “The treatise on Patriotism in the writings of the greatest philosopher of all times, St. Thomas Aquinas, is to be found under the subject of “Piety.” This at first may strike as strange those who think of piety as pertaining only to love of God. But once it is remembered that love of neighbor is inseparable from love of God, it is seen that love of our fellow citizens is a form of piety.”

    “The essence of Americanism is not revolution, but the recognition of the sacredness of human personality and the inherent inalienable rights which every man possesses independently of the State.”

    “In other words, we take very seriously the Declaration of Independence which derives the rights of man from God.”

    “In conclusion, true Americanism is the belief in the freedom of man as a divine derivative.”


  2. bigtex says:

    If that were only true, Gumby. The problem with America and why it’s failing today, is that our rights do not come from God, but the Constitution. Specifically the First Amendment, and its declaration of religious liberty. This is error, and contradicts the social Kingship of Christ. If Fulton Sheen were correct, then why do we have such atrocities as abortion and gay marriage? As Pope Leo XIII correctly pointed out, Americanism is a heresy.

  3. Semper Gumby says:

    bigtex: Interesting comment, but vague.

    Define “failing” and “rights.” Expand on why you think our “rights” are solely based on the Free Exercise clause (or on the Establishment clause, your reference is unclear). Explain why the Free Exercise clause (or the Establishment clause, or both) is “error.” Provide your definition of the “Social Kingship of Christ” and illustrate its practical application. Detail where Abp. Sheen, according to your perspective, is incorrect. Provide a specific citation of Pope Leo XIII. Cheers.

  4. bigtex says:

    I’d start with reading Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, then perhaps follow that with Pope Pius Xi’s Quas Primas. There are also any number of books on the Social Kingship of Christ written by Michael Davies, Fr. Fahey and Fr. Ripperger to name a few. You’re confused like most Catholics, because they don’t understand that Vatican II was corrupted by this false notion of religious freedom, as found in Dignitatis Humanae. It is error, and error has no rights. Read David Wemhoff’s book on John Courtney Murray, Time/Life, and the American Proposition. I think you will be quite shocked to see what actually took place. Get crackin!

  5. Semper Gumby says:

    bigtex: You fail to answer any of the specifics presented to you. You resort to merely listing a few books (some of those titles are simply opinionated and overwrought essays) and ad hominem.

    You made many assertions, and appear incapable of defending a single one. Try again. Be specific. Cheers.

  6. Semper Gumby says:

    Abp. Sheen should be a Saint…

  7. bigtex says:

    First of all, I agree that Sheen should be canonized a saint. But that doesn’t mean he can never have the wrong opinion on something. So don’t get all uptight. Secondly, you never answered my question of why do we have abortion and gay marriage in this country, if our rights come from God? I gave you those encyclical and book recommendations, because this is too long of a topic to discuss on a blog comments section. Either you don’t care to understand, or you don’t really want to know the truth of what actually happened, or you’re just trying to score some points in your mind. Cheers.

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    bigtex: At ease. And adjust your insolent attitude.

    Note, “bigtex,” and note well that I am not obligated to answer your question. You, however, are obligated to provide evidence in support of your fraudulent claims.

    Clearly, your opinions are indefensible and you therefore resort, again, to ad hominem in an attempt to cover your tracks. Anti-Americanism by poorly informed “Catholics” is cheap these days.

    Do additional research, increase your knowledge of the American Founding and of history. Free yourself from your intellectual ghetto. May God enlighten you.

  9. bigtex says:

    “Anti-Americanism by poorly informed “Catholics” is cheap these days.”

    I guess Pope Leo XIII was poorly informed, then. Don’t squat with your spurs on, Gumby.

  10. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Vincent Capodanno, USN, MOH, is a Servant of God…

  11. Semper Gumby says:

    “Moreover, we have often considered and admired the noble gifts of your nation which enable the American people to be alive to every good work which promotes the good of humanity and the splendor of civilization.”

    – Pope Leo XIII

    Welp, “bigtex” is a Leo XIII greenhorn, maybe he’s been drinking out of the spittoon.

    Another from Leo XIII:

    “The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions.”

    Well there tenderfoot, that sounds like the problem is that there Pachamama Vatican over yonder in them thar’ hills over there.

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    Sr. Deirdre Byrne, USA (Ret.), served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti and Sudan, was praised by President Trump on July 4, 2019, at the Lincoln Memorial, and delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention…

  13. bigtex says:

    Out of the spirit of the COLLECT from the 5th Sunday after Pentecost as explained so well above, I will not pursue this any further. But the truth is out there, and I stand by what I wrote. You just need eyes to see and ears to hear. Peace.

  14. Semper Gumby says:

    bigtex wrote: “Out of the spirit of the COLLECT from the 5th Sunday after Pentecost”

    Good, you’re catching on. Now read the first comment regarding Abp. Sheen, you’ll notice the connection.

    “But the truth is out there”

    Good, you’re reading the other comments including actual quotes from Leo XIII. Cheers.

  15. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “The insuperable Lewis & Short Dictionary divulges that ‘affectus’ means “a state of body, and especially of mind produced in one by some influence, a state or disposition of mind, affection, mood: love, desire, fondness, good-will, compassion, sympathy.””

    Abp. Sheen wrote: “But once it is remembered that love of neighbor is inseparable from love of God, it is seen that love of our fellow citizens is a form of piety.”

    From Fr. Slattery’s “Heroism and Genius”:

    “The Christian conception of marriage as a sacramental expression of the heroic love of Christ…implied a communion of hearts. From this alertness to life’s eternal horizons came a new vision of marriage. Heightened was the sense of mutual responsibility of husband and wife to act as loyal companions to each other, and loving, vigilant guardians to their children, on life’s dramatic journey toward the endless existence of immortal splendor willed by the Creator.”

    A prayer from the Middle Ages, by the bishop during the Holy Mass that inducted a new knight: “…Grant this servant of Yours the heavenly graces of strength, courage, and audacity to defend the Faith and justice; bestow upon him an increase in faith, hope, and charity; grant him equally fear and love, humility, perseverance…so that with this sword, or any other, he may harm no one unjustly; that with it he may defend all upright and just causes…may he leave behind the old man and his actions and put on the new man…Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

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