Sometimes it is fun to take things apart and put them back together. Budding engineers like to do that with their parents’ appliances and small machines. I like to do that with books, Scripture portions, even prayers.
I have been practicing on that short prayer at the beginning of the Mass called the collect. It goes whizzing by so quickly that I sometimes wonder, “What did we just pray?” If we disassemble a collect and meditate on each component, we can reassemble it and gaze on the beauty of the prayer.
The authors of the book titled The Collects of Thomas Cranmer point out that collects typically contain an Address, an Acknowledgment, a Petition, an Aspiration, and a Pleading. The collect written for the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6, based on Luke 9:28-36, is a good example.
O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Address: O God,
The Acknowledgment: who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening,
The Petition: Mercifully grant that we . . . may by faith behold the King in his beauty,
The Aspiration: being delivered from the disquietude of this world,
The Pleading: who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
We are asking God to give us a vision of the King in his beauty. It is a significant request that God will be pleased to answer as we are delivered from the disquietude of this world. We can “give legs to” our petition by pausing to imagine the Lord Jesus Christ wonderfully transfigured in raiment white and glistening. It may be helpful to meditate on an icon of the Transfiguration like the one that goes along with this article.
Jesus’ first disciples were stunned by the sudden glimpse of glory in ordinary life. It revealed the true nature of God’s well-beloved Son. In answer to our prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ may be momentarily arrayed in our workaday world. When it happens, heed that voice from heaven: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”