Riches of the Roman Missal: the Sundays of Lent (V)

The Roman Missal encourages us today to ask for the grace to walk toward God following the loving example of Christ.

Carlos Guillén-March 24, 2023-Reading time: 3 minutes
Roman Missal Lent

We are entering what was formerly called the "Passion Season," characterized by the covering of crosses and images in churches. These symbols intensify our experience of the proximity of the Lord's Passion, put us on the way with Him and call us to a greater detachment.

In this context, the Church prays:

We ask you, O Lord our God, that with your help we may go forward with courage towards that same love that moved your Son to give himself up to death for the salvation of the world.Quaésumus, Dómine Deus noster,ut in illa caritáte, qua Fílius tuus díligens mundum morti se trádiditinveniámur ipsi, te opitulánte, alácriter ambulantes.

Once again we are faced with a Collect that was written for the Missal of Paul VI, with three particularities. The first is that it was inspired by a text of the Hispanic Rite, which rereads in the key of prayer a verse of the Letter to the EphesiansWalk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as an oblation and a sweet-smelling offering before God" (Eph 5:2). The second is its structure, in which the petition takes precedence and within it are inserted both the invocation and the anamnesis. The third is that it is the first Sunday collection of Lent that makes explicit reference to the death of the Lord.

The Son who gave his life for love

The Missal collects frequently use the verb quaésumus (we ask), but rarely as a heading. In doing so today the Church leads us to emphasize the absolute necessity we have to ask for what we lack. From our littleness we turn to God with all solemnity calling Him Dómine Deus. But we confidently add nosterIt is "ours" because, in taking the first step, He wanted us to be His people. It is "ours" because, by taking the first step, he wanted us to be his people. Relying on the firmness of the divine will, we have the assurance that God will remain faithful to his covenant.

Prayer reminds the Father of the immense charity with which her Son loved us and gave himself up to death, in order to institute a covenant even more favorable to us. The construction of the personal pronoun plus the verb in the present indicative tense to trádidit (he gave himself) announces to us precisely that no one takes life from Jesus, but that, moved by love, he gives it freely, because that is why he came into the world (cf. Jn. 10:18; 15; 13; Mk. 10:45). It also speaks to us of a real, historical fact that is made sacramentally present in every celebration.

St. John Paul II teaches in the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia that "when the Church celebrates the EucharistIn the memorial of the death and resurrection of his Lord, this central event of salvation is made truly present and "the work of our redemption is accomplished. This sacrifice is so decisive for the salvation of the human race that Jesus Christ accomplished it and returned to the Father only after having left us the means to participate in it, as if we had been present. Thus, every faithful person can take part in it, obtaining fruit inexhaustibly".

Walking in love

The foundation on which we can raise our petition to God is the firmest possible. As St. Paul says: "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not with him give us all things" (Rom 8:32). That is why there is no qualm in saying that we hope to get what we ask for, opitulant teaWe are counting on you, Lord, to help us, counting on the help of your grace, without which we could do nothing.

The great request that the Church makes to God this Sunday is that he find us walking courageously in the same charity of his Son. Once again, this Collect conveys the idea of movement by referring to the wayfarers (ambulant) and the adverb alacriterreinforcing the lively, vivacious character of this walk, as if in a crescendo as Easter approaches.

We have nothing greater to ask for in our prayer than that theological virtue which surpasses all others and which most identifies us with God. As Benedict XVI wrote in his first encyclical: "If the ancient world had dreamed that, in the end, man's true nourishment - that for which man lives - was the Logosthe eternal wisdom, now this Logos has become for us true food, as love. The Eucharist draws us into the oblative act of Jesus. We do not only passively receive the Logos We are not only incarnated, but we are involved in the dynamics of his self-giving.

To celebrate the sacred mysteries along the Lenten journey is, therefore, to allow ourselves to be involved in this self-giving; to clothe ourselves, by grace, with that same charity of Christ, which moves us to give our lives for God and for others. In the concrete experience of this charity we will find the touchstone for knowing how our Lenten conversion is going.

The authorCarlos Guillén

Priest from Peru. Liturgist.

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