“Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify they holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The celebrant comes clean with God, on our behalf, acknowledging that all our hearts are so many open books before him. We pray that all our hearts, not just my own individual heart, will be focused upon God to the end that we may perfectly love him. And, as if that isn’t enough, we are bold to ask that, by his grace, our common life will not only honor his holy Name, but also amplify his honor. How can we mere humans amplify or magnify his Holy Name? This audacious aspiration is expressed in prayer at the beginning of every Eucharist and it is placed above everything else in our life. What could be more important?
The celebrant prays “We” not “I.” Once more we underscore that this “we” is not merely a collection of individual volunteers who have a common goal. We are not like a collection of persons at an AA meeting, or the Kiwanis club, or even a benevolent society – virtuous as these all may be. The Church of God, throughout the New Testament and Church history, has been described by using many different images and metaphors. She has been referred to as “the pillar and ground of the truth,” “the Ark of Safety,” “a hospital for sinners,” “a witness and keeper of Holy Writ,” and “the family of God” just to name a few. But no titles, no word-pictures, challenge the idols we have grown comfortable with more than the understanding of the Church as “the Bride of Christ,” and “the Body of Christ.” The Church is the living and life giving Bride of Christ and the living and life giving Body of Christ. St. Paul wrote:
“I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.”
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many… Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”