The Collect (Opening Prayer) for the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time has as its source the Verona Sacramentary, a liturgical book that dates back to the sixth century:
Almighty ever-living God,
increase our faith, hope, and charity,
and make us love what you command,
so that we may merit what you promise.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In this prayer we ask God for an increase in virtue, namely the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity that St. Paul talks about in his letters to the Corinthians and Thessalonians. Faith, hope, and charity are the three things that remain when everything else fades away: “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1Cor 13:13). Indeed, love is the greatest of these because charity is the greatest of all virtues. The virtue of charity is twofold: love of God above all else, and love of neighbor as self. These are the two commandments that Jesus identified as the greatest, and together they make up the virtue of Christian charity.
In asking God to increase in us the virtues of faith, hope, and love, we admit that we are lacking perfection in these three virtues—that there is room for us to grow in our faith; room for us to grow in our hope; room for us to grow in our charity: our love of God above all things, and our love of neighbor. Only when we love what God commands of us do we become worthy (i.e., merit) to receive what he promises.
Pray this week for an increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. All virtues are like muscles; they are strengthened by exercise. So, pray for strengthened faith, and exercise faith; pray for strengthened hope, and exercise hope; pray for strengthened charity, and exercise charity. The more we practice any virtue, the easier and more natural that virtue becomes for us. Take this Collect to prayer this week, and ask God for an increase in these virtues while you increase your practice of these virtues.
God bless you,