Bishop Eric Menees
As we continue our examination of the Holy Eucharist – Standard Text – 2019 BCP, today we look at the Collect for Purity.
A Collect is a prayer that is meant to do what its name reflects – collect the thoughts and intentions of those gathered for worship. Collects have been a part of Christian Worship since the time of the Early Church, and Archbishop Cranmer made good use of them by adapting them to the context of the English Reformation.
The 2019 BCP will be very familiar, as it is virtually unchanged from the 1979 BCP version with this exception; the rubrics (generally printed in red), otherwise known as liturgical directions, allow for the Celebrant to invite the gathered congregation to join in saying the prayer. The 1979 BCP version allowed only for the Celebrant to offer the prayer on behalf of the people.
The Collect for Purity
The Celebrant prays (and the People may be invited to join)
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collects generally follow a pattern:
Addressing God and laying out an aspect of His character.
A petition or request is made.
An invocation and doxology
The concluding AMEN
In this Collect God is addressed as being both omnipotent (all powerful) — “Almighty God” — and omniscient (all knowing) — “all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.” — In this prayer, it is acknowledged that we do not have to make our desires known, nor try to hide our secrets, because God already knows us so intimately that nothing is new or “news” to God.
We ask God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to cleans our innermost thoughts (the thoughts of the heart), in order that we may truly worship Him. That worship is expressed in our love and our praise, as we “magnify” his holy Name.
In the Collect for Purity, there is a trinitarian prayer we pray to Almighty God: We ask God to inspire us through his Holy Spirit, and we pray it all through our intermediary, “Christ our Lord.”
The prayer ends as all prayers should, and as all of ours do – by saying AMEN. The word “amen” has its roots in Hebrew and is generally translated: “so be it.” The intention with an AMEN isn’t so much, ‘“so be it” as I have requested,’ but rather ‘“so be it” as you, God, desire.’ This was expressed by Jesus in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said, “not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Needless to say, the Collect for Purity is theologically packed and beautifully expressed, asking God to prepare us for worship. I pray that this Sunday, as you prepare for worship, you’ll pay close attention to the Collect for Purity.