Thomas Cranmer – Portrait by Gerlach Flicke – 1545
The Ability to Love God is a Gift of God. This is expressed in the Collect of Thomas Cranmer in the Book of Common Prayer for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, which was last Sunday.
“God, which has prepared to them that love thee such good things as pass all man’s understanding. Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we loving thee in all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire.”
Inspired by 1 Corinthians 2:9
But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
and Isaiah 64:4,
From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
thus, our love towards God is a gift from God. Poet Robert Browning expresses this in these lines placed on the lips of Jesus, the Lord and Savior:
“O heart I made, a heart beats here!
Face, my hands fashioned, see it in myself!
Thou hast no power nor mayst conceive of mine,
But love I gave thee, with myself to love,
And Thou must love me who have died for thee!”
The Anglican Book of Common Prayer, first composed by Thomas Cranmer in 1548, is a masterful orderly prayer book, used both in liturgy and in devotions, both public and private. In the Book of Common Prayer, Cranmer wrote “Collects” for each of the weeks of the liturgical year. He found them in writings of the church fathers and composed some himself.
What is a collect? The origin of the term “collecta”, while rather obscure, refers to the “gathering of the people together” as well as to the “collecting up” of the petitions of individual members of the congregation into one prayer. This at first extemporaneous prayer would later also be connected to the Epistle and Gospel appointed for the day in the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian Churches, both Roman Catholic and Protestant liturgies. In this form during liturgical services, a Collect is a short prayer that asks “for one thing only.” (“The Collects of Thomas Cranmer,” Barbee and Zahl (1999)
Thomas Cranmer (2 July 1489 – 21 March 1556) was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I. He helped build the case for the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, which was one of the causes of the separation of the English Church from union with the Roman Catholic Church and the Papacy. Along with Thomas Cromwell, he supported the principle of Royal Supremacy, in which the king was considered sovereign over the Church within his realm. During Cranmer’s tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury, he was responsible for establishing the first doctrinal and liturgical structures of the reformed Church of England. In 1548-49, Cranmer wrote and compiled the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer, a complete liturgy for the English Church, still in use though modernized, in the Anglican and American Episcopal churches. When Roman Catholic Mary I took the English throne, Cranmer was arrested and executed on March 21, 1556, as a Protestant heretic, although to Protestants, he and the other 283 Protestants Mary executed, were martyrs.
Mary died two years later, and Elizabeth I, a Protestant, succeeded as Queen. Anne Boleyn gave birth to Elizabeth in September 1533. Cranmer had been Archbishop of Canterbury for six months. He immediately baptized Elizabeth and acted as one of her godparents. Sadly, but for Bloody Mary, he would have been an asset for Elizabeth in her reinstatement of the Anglican Church her father Henry VIII founded to allow for his divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Cranmer was a Protestant Reformer and followed the lead of Luther and the Reformers on the Continent in shaping the Protestant Anglican Communion.