Rorate Caeli

Two Collects Most Appropriate for Our Times

St. John of Matha offering Holy Mass
The old liturgy continues to show how its relevance never fades, and even grows in intensity, in ways that may be surprising to us but were always foreknown to God in His Providence.

In the nineteenth century in the Western world, who would have thought that the Moslems were a particularly great threat? At that time, they were not. But today? That's a different story, as we all know. Similarly, while sin has always been dogging our steps in every era, one could not have spoken prior to the Sexual Revolution of a veritable plague of vices against the sixth commandment, including the systematic and ever-earlier loss of innocence inflicted by Satan and his busy disciples on the children of our time. If ever an age needed a saint who models innocence of life and urges us to preserve it in chastity or recover it in penance and self-control, that age would be ours.

The idea that the old liturgy was getting to be "irrelevant" and the new one is "relevant" is one of those superficial sayings that quickly withers under examination. In reality, it is quite otherwise: the old has such a rich content and durable structure that it weathers every storm and emerges with new brightness as the needs of the times shift. Well might the words of the Psalmist be applied to the usus antiquior: "Thy youth shall be renewed like the eagle's." The new liturgy, in contrast, is so tethered to the narrow time-bound theories of its academic fashioners that it meets the needs of an ever-shrinking category of modern people who are not young enough to be post-modern or wise enough to be pre-modern.

With my mention of Moslems and of innocence, what am I referring to in particular? Two feasts we celebrated this past week: that of St. John of Matha on February 8th, and that of St. Scholastica today, February 10th. The feast of St. John of Matha was removed from the Novus Ordo, so his collect also perished in that shipwreck; the feast of St. Scholastica survived (in spite of the scholars who question her very existence — how historically-critically clever of them!), but its collect was mangled.

February 8, St. John of Matha

Collect (Usus antiquior)

O God, who through Saint John didst from heaven deign to institute the Order of the Most Holy Trinity for ransoming captives from the power of the Saracens, grant, we beseech Thee, that by the suffrages of his merits, we may be freed from bondage of body and of soul.

Collect (Novus Ordo)

[Feast abolished.]

February 10, St. Scholastica

Collect (Usus antiquior)

O God, who to show us the way of innocence didst cause the soul of Thy blessed virgin Scholastica to enter heaven in the form of a dove: grant through her merits and prayers that we may live in an innocence that will win for us eternal joys.

Collect (Novus Ordo)

As we celebrate anew the memorial of the virgin Saint Scholastica, we pray, O Lord, that following her example we may serve you with pure love and happily receive what comes from loving you.