Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Collect for the Feast of St. Luke

 1018st_luke at the cross.jpg
Interveniat pro nobis,
quaesumus Domine,
sanctus tuus Lucas Evangelista:
qui crucis mortificationem iugiter in suo corpore
pro tui nominis honore portavit. 

We beseech thee, O Lord, that thy holy Evangelist St. Luke may intercede for us, who always bore in his body the mortification of the cross in honor of thy name.

I have always wondered about the traditional collect for the Feast of St. Luke. Why the reference qui crucis mortificationem iugiter in suo corpore . . . portavit -- he who always bore in his body the mortification of the cross? Fr Z asked the same question in a blog 18 October 2007 ( but he and his commentators reached no definitive conclusion. 

The image above expresses a conviction similar to the Collect. It is by the Spanish artist Francisco Zurbar├án and dates from 1660. Zurbar├án shows Saint Luke standing on Calvary; he is holding an artist’s palette in his hands and contemplating Jesus Crucified with rapt attention. Saint Luke is memorizing the scene so as to depict it in a painting, just as he depicts it in his Gospel (Dom Mark:

Dom Gueranger  spiritually affirms the collect but does not explain it historically:

 The symbolical Ox, reminding us of the figurative sacrifices, and announcing their abrogation, yokes himself, with the Man, the Lion, and the Eagle, to the chariot which bears the Conqueror of earth, the Lamb in his triumph. O Evangelist of the Gentiles, blessed be thou for having put an end to the long night of our captivity, and warmed our frozen hearts. Thou wast the confidant of the Mother of God; and her happy influence left in thy soul that fragrance of virginity which pervaded thy whole life and breathes through thy writings. With discerning love and silent devotedness, thou didst assist the Apostle of the Gentiles in his great work; and didst remain as faithful to him when abandoned or betrayed, shipwrecked or imprisoned, as in the days of his prosperity. Rightly, then, does the Church in her Collect apply to thee the words spoken by St. Paul of himself : In all things we suffer tribulation, are persecuted, are cast down, always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus; but this continual dying manifests the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh. Thy inspired pen taught us to love the Son of Man in His Gospel; thy pencil portrayed Him for us in His Mother's arms; and a third time thou revealedst Him to the world, by the reproduction of His holiness in thine own life.

All we need to know St. Luke told us: continual dying manifests the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh.

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