One noticeable revision to the new English translation will be to the parts prayed exclusively by the celebrant. The prayer offered by the priest-celebrant just after the Gloria is currently called the “opening prayer,” but the new translation will refer to it with the traditional designation of “collect.”
This helps illustrate the role it plays in the liturgy as a collection, or summation of the thoughts and intentions held by the entire assembly into one petition that concludes everything prayed before it. The revised collects will sound richer and reflect their biblical roots better by the words they employ.
Take for example the current opening prayer from Trinity Sunday, heard last weekend: “Father, you sent your Word to bring us truth and your Spirit to make us holy. Help us to worship you, one God in three Persons, by proclaiming and living our faith. Grant this through our Lord …” This prayer is nice and it states exactly what we believe: God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, the Word through whom the universe was made, and the Son in turn taught us the truth, promising His disciples the Holy Spirit as the enduring presence of the Father and Son in the world.
The revised collect will pray: “God our Father, who, by sending into the world the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification, made known to the human race your wondrous mystery; grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith, we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your unity, powerful in majesty. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ.” This is much richer in the words and biblical allusions it employs.
God is more clearly described as the initiator in sending both the Son and Holy Spirit. This is true in the current prayer, but now it is clearer that without the benevolence of God’s love, He would not have come to us as the Son or the Spirit to save us. This reminds us that as disciples we are to subordinate our will to God just as Christ did.
“Human race” replaces what was “us” to illustrate better our sharing in God’s image and likeness as opposed to His other, non-rational creatures. Adjectives are more replete, describing the mystery of the Trinity as wondrous and the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as “powerful in majesty.”
Christianity is described as “the true faith.” This may seem exclusive to non-Christian religions, but it is meant to remind the assembly that Jesus said He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” It also affirms our profession of Christianity. What was three sentences in the former prayer has become two and we will no longer hear “Grant this,” or “We ask this” at the conclusion of the collects. Why repeat such a request when the body of the prayer already says, “grant us, we pray”?
What we have been praying is not less authentic than the coming revisions. However, the new collects will elevate our minds to the beauties of God in heaven by employing rich adjectives and complete allusions to the biblical foundation from which all Christian doctrine comes.Father Bryan Babick, SL.L., is the vicar for Divine Worship and the Sacraments for the Diocese of Charleston.