Deus, per cuius ineffabilem gratiam
omni benedictione ditamur,
praesta nobis ita in novitatem a vetustate transire,
ut regni caelestis gloriae praeparemur.
Today’s Collect was not in any previous edition of the Missale Romanum. Instead it has its roots in a sermon of St. Pope Leo I “the Great” (s. 61.5 recensio alpha which is in this snippet identical with beta; in CCL 138A, l. 109 or PL 54, 349b). For those of you who love Latin, I cannot resist simply giving you the original text from that sermon. To be appreciated, it must be read, nay, declaimed aloud: Nos autem, dilectissimi, qui ab ignorantiae tenebris liberati, fidei lumen accepimus, et in noui testamenti haereditatem per electionem adoptionis intrauimus, festiuitatem quam Israhel carnalis perdidit gaudeamus, quoniam pascha nostrum immolatus est christus, per cuius ineffabilem gratiam omnium charismatum benedictione ditamur, et ita in nouitatem a uetustate transferimur, ut non solum paradisi restituamur habitaculo, sed etiam regni caelestis gloriae praeparemur.
This is rich, elegant fare, to be sure. This figure of in novitatem with vetustas is used by Leo several times in the sermons coming down to us.
Novitas is a really interesting word. It means "a being new, newness, novelty". It also means "the condition of a homo novus, newness of rank". In ancient Rome most public offices went to men whose families had been around for a very long time, the established families. Newness… new things were looked at with suspicion in Rome (and they still are, as a matter of fact, but I digress. The Latin term for "revolution", which was a VERY bad thing, is res novae "new things". When another Pope Leo, Leo XIII wrote about the materialist social upheaval looming on the horizon and fairness in employment, he produced the encyclical Rerum novarum … "That the spirit of revolutionary change, which has long been disturbing the nations of the world, should have passed beyond the sphere of politics and made its influence felt in the cognate sphere of practical economics is not surprising. …" At any rate, a novus homo was a man who was the first from his family to serve in the senate or to be elected to high public office.
O God, by means whose ineffable grace
we are enriched with every blessing,
grant to us to cross over from oldness into newness in such a way
that we are made ready for the kingdom of heavenly glory.
I suspect that part of the structure of Leo’s thought derives from the Blessed Apostle’s Letter to the Colossians 3,8-10: "Nunc autem deponite et vos omnia: iram, indigationem, malitiam, blasphemiam, turpem sermonem de ore vestro; nolite mentiri invicem, qui exuistis vos veterem hominem cum actibus eius et induistis novum, eum, qui renovator in agnitionem secundum imaginem eius, qui creavit eum, … But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."
Consider what occurs in our souls in baptism, deepend in confirmation, renewed and vitalized in proper reception of the Eucharist. Christ made all this possible when He rose from the dead. In Christ, the new Adam, our old humanity was clothed anew.