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Almighty ever-living God,
constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,
that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism may, under your protective care,
bear much fruit and come to the joys of life eternal.
Originally found in the Bergomese Sacramentary, today's collect is all about baptism: the baptism we each received many years ago and the baptism received by the neophytes just five weeks ago on the Easter night.
The prayer begins by asking that the Paschal Mystery might be accomplished within each one of us. How does God accomplish his Paschal Mystery in me?
It all began when I was baptized. Do you remember what St. Paul said happens to me in baptism? I go down into the font, down into the tomb with the Lord and I die with him. I die to my old self. I die to sin. And just as Christ rises from the tomb, having been joined to him in baptism, I too rise to eternal life. I die and I rise with Christ, because in baptism I am joined to him.
From that moment forward, I am unalterably changed. And each day until they bury my body in the ground, I am called to die and rise with the Lord, to be conformed to his self-giving sacrifice of love, to decrease, that his love might abound in me.
I am called, each day, in other words, to become another Christ, that others might be touched by him through my poor self; that others might see not me, but Christ Jesus in me.
This is how the Paschal dying and rising of Christ is lived out in his Church, in those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. And this is how his flock bears great fruit.
Here we have an allusion to the parable of the vine and the branches. Apart from me, Christ tells us, you can do nothing. But he who is joined to me, the vine, will be fruitful and filled with life.
We are enjoined to Christ through his holy sacraments and through his Church. And if we remain faithful to the Body and Blood of the Lord, to the sacrament of penance, and to the virtuous life, the poor will be loved, the sinners will be reconciled, and the Paschal Mystery of Christ will continue to be proclaimed and lived by his Church on earth.
Msgr. James P. Moroney, presently professor of liturgy at St. John's Seminary, Brighton becomes the 20th rector there on July 1, 2012. This is the fifth of a series of reflections on the collects of the Easter season.