O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal; grant that, O heavenly Father, for the sake of 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 Fourth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Though the Collect, Epistle and Gospel [in the Prayer Book] are all ancient, and were appointed in the Sarum Missal, we seem here to depart from the Roman Missal. Their Collect for today is ours for next Sunday, whilst ours today is theirs for the Third Sunday after Pentecost.
The Collect in language is very eloquent, and is conceived in the spirit of the prophets of old. It is also rhythmical in cadence. It is a close rendering of the ancient Latin prayer of St Gregory. It seems to be based on the opening words of the Epistle, which contrasts things temporal with the things eternal. We ask God to give us His mercy; to be our ruler and guide, that we may pass through things temporal – the life of this world – so that at length we may enjoy the life of the world to come – the things eternal.
…God is called in the Collect our protector if we put our trust in Him. Then if we trust Him He will be our ruler and guide.
If He is our ruler, then He must have rules for us to obey. Generally God’s rules are to be found in the Church. The Creeds provide us with what we must believe, the Commandments tell us what we must do. Prayer tells us how we must approach God, and the Sacraments tell us how God approaches us. We learn through the Scriptures and the teaching of the Church how to live. So we must guide our lives by these rules, then God will be our ruler.
How does God guide us? He has given us His Holy Spirit. He comes into the heart of each one of us at Baptism to be our guide. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the voice of conscience. We must listen for that voice. That is the voice that will help us in all dangers and adversities and carry us through all temptations. Take God for your ruler and guide, and you will find that He is your protector.
Do we have any of the things eternal in this life? Yes; the things temporal will pass away. Even our bodies in this life will come to an end, but the soul will still live on. Anything, any fruit which our souls produce, will continue in the life to come. There would be no point in asking God to be our ruler and guide if we were not going to carry the good characteristics and qualities of this life into the life of the world to come. So that we may enjoy the fullest benefits of that future life, we must develop the things eternal in this life’.
from Teaching the Collects, 1965, by H.E. Sheen
Fr Lee Kenyon