Keep, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy: and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall; keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘This is a prayer with a double petition, for the Church and for our salvation. The juxtaposition of the two is not accidental but arises out of a logical necessity. We cannot think adequately of salvation without calling to mind the Church, for in any case we cannot be saved alone and the Church is the instrument of salvation.
…The Church is often described as the ark of salvation, not meaning that membership of it is a mechanical guarantee of ultimate heaven, but that, as St Cyprian said seventeen centuries ago, outside it there is really no safety. We pray that God will “keep” it, knowing that so long as the vessel remains unharmed there is always the chance that the passengers, one and all, may arrive safe at their journey’s end.
There is always, however, the chance of accident to the individual passenger, and so we repeat the word “keep” asking that not only the Church as a whole be kept in God’s perpetual mercy, but also that each several soul may be kept from all things hurtful and led to all things profitable for its salvation.
Salvation is thus a double process: negatively it is a rescue from every possibility of harm, and positively it is an introduction to all that is good. By derivation the word implies perfect health. Theologically it includes not only the well-being of the individual but also of his environment, and finally the ultimate bliss of heaven’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
Fr Lee Kenyon