Assist us mercifully with your grace, Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the meditation of those mighty acts by which you have promised us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
If you’ve ever had a horrendous Holy Week, then this collect is for you! It acknowledges that we need God’s mercy and grace in order to observe Holy Week joyfully and contemplatively.
Otherwise, if we try to do Holy Week on our own, we will get distracted and bitter. The Maundy Thursday service will drag on. Good Friday and Holy Saturday will interfere with our weekend plans. And spending time with family after church on Easter Sunday will wear our patience thin.
Update: This is especially the case as we observe Holy Week in the midst of a global pandemic! Enforced isolation is wearing us all down. We need God’s help more than ever to meditate with joy.
Meditation upon the mighty acts of God is hard work. Joyful meditation is even harder. And, of course, this isn’t just the case during Holy Week! For this reason, the following prayers from the Occasional Prayers in the 2019 Book of Common Prayer are especially helpful in broadening the collect for Holy Wednesday to include our everyday times of prayer, Scripture reading, and worship.
Preparation for Personal Prayer
Holy Spirit, breath of God and fire of love, I cannot pray without your aid: Kindle in me the fire of your love, and illumine me with your light; that with a steadfast will and holy thoughts I may approach the Father in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who reigns with you and the Father in eternal union. Amen.
Before the Reading of Scripture
Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your Holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Preparation for Public Worship
Guide and direct us, O Lord, always and everywhere with your holy light, that we may discern with clear vision your presence among us, and partake with worthy intention of your divine mysteries. We ask this for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
This Holy Wednesday (and every time we approach the Lord in prayer and worship), let’s swallow our pride and admit that we need God’s help. And we don’t just need it for the big things like salvation from Sin and Death. We need God’s help just as much for the little things like paying joyful attention during the second half of Holy Week.