The Collect for Purity.
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Collect for Purity is one of the great Anglican prayers. It was part of the Communion service in Cranmer’s Book Of Common Prayer and was carried into the Alternative Service Book of 1980, and is still with us in the Common Worship Eucharist.
To my mind it is a great prayer to use as we enter a time of worship. It acknowledges the God that we want to worship and glorify; the God we seek to meet in worship as the one who truly knows us; knows us better than we know ourselves. Our hearts and desires and secrets, even our self deceptions, are open to God.
What motivates us as human beings made in God’s image, are our desires - the things that we love with all our heart and mind and soul and strength. But as we know from looking at history and looking at our own hearts, our desires are often twisted and corrupted. We seek after things that do not and cannot ultimately satisfy us in the depths of our souls. For we are made to love God in all things and above all things.
When we try to satisfy our souls with anything less than God we are left feeling empty, and our hearts are restless. So in this great prayer we ask God to ‘cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you.’ We ask God to put our hearts right, to cleanse and heal us so that we may be whole.
We are made in God’s image which is another way of saying that we are made to love: to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. This is what we were made for, and in love we find ourselves and our purpose. When we love like this our lives, not just our words glorify and magnify our great and loving Creator.
As the great African Bishop Saint Augustine wrote: “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” The Collect for purity is a prayer for the healing of our restless hearts.
God bless you,
Editor: Other quotes by Augustine of Hippo
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”
“If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”
“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”
“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”
“There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.”
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”