October 23, 2020
In this Sunday’s collect, there is a threefold petition that I would like to unpack with you: “Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise.”
Let us take the first part, “Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity….” In this opening, we beg God to give us three particular virtues which only He can. We commonly know them as Theological Virtues, and these virtues are the ways God’s life lives in us – they draw us back to Him. You can study these virtues, as well as the Cardinal virtues, here: courtesy of the Thomistic Institute.
In the second part, by living the Theological virtues, we become animated to understand that God perfectly knows the best way for us to live. Therefore, we trust in His commands and ask Him to “make us love what you command.” At times, we distrust people in our everyday life, and the same thing can be noticed of our relationship with God. When we lack trust, we also tend to lack love and the will to do the good asked of us. We must ask God for the resolve to trust him and realize what He asks of us daily will always be for our good and the good of others.
The third and final part of the petition reads, “…so that we may merit what you promise.” When we live the Theological virtues, trust in God and live what He asks of us, we realize we are living in communion with God now and in the life to come. By merit, we should realize as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in paragraph 2008:
“The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on His own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.” (See here for more on the Catechism.)
This is why the prayer mentions the word “promise,” for God is always the one to act first on His creations to draw them to Himself. May God shower you with Faith, Hope and Charity to animate you to love His commands and be assured of His promises for you.
Peace in Christ,