Julie Storr shares a reflection on the Collect for the Mass for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
I used to think that “Let us pray” was just the priest’s cue for the server to get the book. I didn’t know that it actually meant “pray—right now.” This is the time to offer to God our distractions and our intentions, and enter into the Mass. The Collect collects those prayers and offer them to God. Maybe that’s the reason I never really listened to the Collect: I didn’t know the significance of that moment. As I’ve been speaking, I have heard from many people who thought the same thing.
I do remember hearing this prayer, though, and it’s become one of my favorites. The earliest version of this prayer dates back to the sixth century.
Draw near to your servants, O Lord, and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness, that, for those who glory in you as their Creator and guide, you may restore what you have created and keep safe what you have restored. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
The first two words of the prayer have been on my mind all week: Draw near. In the prayer, we ask God to draw near to us, His servants, but there’s a catch to His coming near. James 4:8 tells us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Going to God as a servant, with a humble and contrite heart, is the key to having God draw near.
This week, I asked God to help me remember to be in His presence. I can’t even count the number of occurrences, at various times of the day and during various activities, that the words came to me: “Draw near.” It was like God was whispering in my ear, reminding me to take that moment and connect with Him. I found those moments to be so peaceful, savoring that time, no matter how brief it was, to acknowledge His presence.
We ask that our prayers are answered with unceasing kindness, and what we are asking for is that God would restore what He has created and keep safe what He has restored. What a wonderful definition of who we are! Our identity comes from being created by and protected by God.
All we need to do is glory in Him. We often seen the word glory used as a noun or as an adjective, but in this prayer, it’s used as a verb. In the Latin form of the prayer, the word for glory is gloriantur, meaning to boast. That’s our “work” of this prayer: to pride ourselves, to boast not because of ourselves or what we can do, but because of God and what He has done in and through us.
At the time this prayer was written, it was used to announce a fast, possibly during a siege of Rome. However, the prayer seems fitting, for any day, really. We pray for wholeness and restoration. We pray that what God has restored, He protects. And let us boast, remembering that “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31). The Lord has done great things for us, and we are called to share those good things with others.
Copyright 2022 Julie Storr
About the Author
Julie Storr is a convert and Benedictine Oblate who is in awe of the depth of the relationship with God that can be found in the Catholic Church. Julie and her husband live in Pocahontas, Iowa. They have two sons, and is learning girl things from a new daughter-in-law. She writes and is available for speaking engagements. Visit her website at LectioTheLiturgy.com.