The Collect for Proper 25: The Sunday closest to October 26

Almighty and everlasting God,
increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity;
and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 235)

Historical introduction:  This ancient Collect, which dates from at least the late 7th century, has been used in Vespers (what we call Evening Prayer), and in the Sunday eucharistic service during the Season after Pentecost.[1]  In the Sarum missal, it was used for The Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity.[2]  The original Latin of the Aspiration reads in English as “that we may deserve to obtain what you promise”; Marion Hatchett notes that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer revised this portion of the Collect to remove the idea that we can merit God’s promises.[3]  Our current version seeks to continue Cranmer’s theological emphasis that we receive God’s promises through God’s grace, which enables us to love what God commands.[4]

The Preamble, “Almighty and everlasting God,” is an invitation for us to consider how God’s mighty power and eternality are needed for us to increase in what are known as the theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity; see 1 Corinthians 13:13).

Theoptional Acknowledgement is not present in this Collect.

Hatchett states:  “The message [of this Collect] is clear and forthright:  only if we love what God commands can we render cheerful obedience, and for this we need the gifts of faith, hope, and charity.” 

The Petition can be read as two parts with the Aspiration in the middle.  In the first half, “increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity,” we ask for growth in virtue.  A brief look at each of these virtues provides insights into how God’s gift of them can transform us:

  • Faith:  Faith can be understood as both an act of the will (trust) and the content of our beliefs.  In The Collect for Trinity Sunday, we ask God to keep us in the faith we confess—our trusting in the mystery of our one God who is three persons, the mystery of the incarnation of the Son, and the mystery of the sacraments that form us into members of the Church (see the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, BCP 96, 120, 304, and 358).  Faith—trusting in God (see Hebrews 11:1)—is a gift.  God is also the faithful one (see Daniel 9:4, Isaiah 25:1, and 2 Timothy 2:11-13).  As God gives us faith, we are able to increase in our faithfulness, and by doing so, we are better able to reflect God’s likeness and image to each other and to the world around us. 
  • Hope:  In our Catechism, Christian hope is defined as “to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God’s purpose for the world.” (“The Christian Hope,” Catechism, BCP 861).  In Romans 8:18-25, all of creation shares in this hope for what is not yet realized but is promised.  Our confidence in God’s promises is based upon God’s faithfulness to God’s people in the past as well as in the present.  Our faith, both in content and in the disposition of trust, is the grounding of the hope that lies within us in spite of our present circumstances ( see 1 Peter 3:8-16). 
  • Charity:  “Charity” can be understood in two ways—a focus on giving to those in need, or love.  Reading 1 Corinthians 13:13 in the context of the entire chapter gives us the broader understanding of charity as love, giving to those in need is a part but not the whole.  The “charity” that is in view in 1 Corinthians 13 is the very nature of God:  God is love (see 1 John 4:7-21).

The second half of the Petition, “and make us love what you command,” comes after the Aspiration.  Between this Collect and the Collect for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, we pray for grace to obey the two great commandments.  In the Collect for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, we pray for God to pour love for God into us.  In this Collect, we ask God to expand our hearts so that we love our neighbor by doing all that God directs us to do.  Just as the first half of this Petition asks God to re-make us in God’s own image as faithful and loving people who share in God’s hope for the world, the second half of the Petition continues this request to have our hearts enlarged to not merely become obedient to God’s way of love, but to love God’s way of love.  Salvation, according to the Petition, is being transformed to trust God; place our hope in God’s promises; and through faith and hope, lovingly do what God commands.

The Aspiration, “that we may obtain what you promise,” focuses us on our salvation, but not just our eternal destination, but being made healthy and whole as a Church that reflects God’s very being into the world around us.  (For a more detailed look at how the BCP describes God’s promises, see the meditation on The Collect for the Sixth Sunday of Easter). 

The Pleading, “through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen,” returns us to Cranmer’s adjustment of the original prayer—we are able to obtain God’s promises only through the merits of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

For your consideration: 

Faith, hope, and charity may look different this year than they did last year.  How has your experience of faith, hope, and love changed?  What do faith, hope, and love look like in our parish?

What command of God is hard for us, as a parish, as a diocese, and as a denomination, to love?  How might this Collect help us to accept God’s grace to love what we are called to do and to become?

Almighty and everlasting God,
increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity;
and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.

© 2022 Donna Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick


[1] Marion J. Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book, (New York:  Harper Collins, 1995), 194.

[2] Hatchett, 194.  So also in the 1892 and 1928 BCPs.  Paul V. Marshall, Prayer Book Parallels (New York:  Church Publishing, 1990) II.104-5.

[3] Hatchett, 194.  This assumption regarding the revision by Cranmer makes sense given theological concerns of the Continental Reformers.

[4] Hatchett, 194.  This assumption regarding the revision by Cranmer makes sense given theological concerns of the Continental Reformers.

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