4th Sunday of Easter: Post communion

What Does the Prayer Really Say?  4th Sunday of Easter

ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN The Wanderer in 2003

Update: News: I am grateful to all of you who asked news over the last weeks and months about the Marine Corps Captain and the retired USMC Lt. General’s daughter, in training to be a nurse, who had to postpone their wedding because the young officer was deployed to Iraq.  I have had many people praying for them, him especially, including churches full of school children at Mass.  Yesterday the General told me that Captain M had phoned… from Kuwait.  They are readying their gear for the return to Camp Pendleton.  He should be home in a few weeks.  Wedding bells won’t ring in May, but it will not be long now.   Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.

Last week I wrote in reference to the Holy Father’s new encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia (EdE) that “the Holy See’s website inexplicably did not provide the Latin text, but only the English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish).” I am happy to report that the Latin text has been added and is now available online.  (Do the webmasters of vatican.va read WDTPRS?)  Last week, when I was making a connection between the use of intueor in the prayer and the Pope’s desire in EdE that we “contemplate” the face of Christ, I did not know what Latin word for “contemplate” was used in the encyclical.  It was contemplor and contueor

The Latin text brings up all sorts of new and interesting questions.  For example, regarding the infamous “pro multis/omnibus” controversy (concerning the words “for all” rather than “for many” in the consecration of the Mass) in EdE 2, we read in the English version:  “Then he took the cup of wine and said to them: “Take this, all of you and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all, so that sins may be forgiven” (cf. Mt 14:24; Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25).”  (Emphasis added – sic “Mt 14:24” but it should be either Matthew 26:28 or Mark 14:24)   Sounds just like Mass, right?  Note that the Pope did not cite the Missale Romanum.   Now, that “for all” bothered me a little when I first read it, but I brushed it off as merely being in keeping with the present prevalent English ICEL translation of the Missale Romanum.  Then a long time friend, RB of KS, pointed out via e-mail that the Latin version of EdE 2 reads: “Deinde calicem in manus vini sustulit eisque dixit: "Accipite et bibite omnes: hic calix novum aeternumque testamentum est in sanguine meo, qui pro vobis funditur et pro omnibus in remissionem peccatorum" (cfr Mc 14, 24; Lc 22, 20; 1 Cor 11, 25).”  (Emphasis added – The Latin cites Mark 14:24, so I take it that Matthew is out.  In the haste to get it out in time for Holy Thursday, the editors goofed up the citations – a minor point.)   There is that pesky “pro omnibus”.  This indeed began to bother me.   That is not what the either the Missale Romanum or what I remembered the old Latin Vulgate of Scripture to say. 

Being thus bothered, I turned to the new Latin Vulgate approved by His Holiness in 1986 and published by the Holy See.  I looked up the all the citations to see if anywhere pro omnibus had quietly slipped in unnoticed (by me, at least).  I found uses of pro multis (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24) and simply pro vobis (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:24).  Pro omnibus was nowhere in sight in the hallowed pages of Sacred Writ.  Now, before any traditional Catholics freak out completely and accuse the Pope of “changing Scripture” (mark my word some will do exactly that), please note that the citations are in the form of a “confer” abbreviated as “cf.” or (in Latin) “cfr”, which mean that the reader is to “bring together for comparison” the referenced texts.  “Cf.” does not indicate an exact quotation.  What the Pope did in EdE is offer a paraphrase, not an exact quotation.   That said, this still bothers me because, being so close to the exact language of Scripture, his paraphrase will confuse people into thinking that Scripture says “pro omnibus”.  Please note also that the Pope does not cite the Missale Romanum, which without question says “pro multis”… “for many”.  What happened?  I am guessing that some eager liturgist got his fingers into the first part of the encyclical and conformed it to the way Mass is said in some vernacular version or other, probably Italian (“per voi e per tutti” rather than “per molti”).   Someone more cynical will undoubtedly suggest that this is a devious plot on the part of the Vatican’s liturgical mandarins to slither in a justification for vernacular “for all” translations of the Latin “pro multis”.   I sincerely doubt it, but keep your eyes open all the same.  There are critical theological and ecclesial issues at stake.

Once last point: When I quote something, I leave everything in the original form (British spellings, capitalization, etc.).  Sometime I clean up readers’ feedback, but quotations from documents and Scripture I leave as they are – and I send them in for publication.  However, this publication follows a style sheet so that it is consistent from week to week.   This style sheet indicates capitalization of pronouns for our Lord, etc., even when they are not so capitalized in the original texts.  Thus, kindly inform all your numerous friends, neighbors and relatives to whom you are about to give gift generous subscriptions for The Wanderer, since they won’t have seen this explanation.

POST COMMUNIONEM
LATIN (2002 Missale Romanum):
Gregem tuum, Pastor bone, placatus intende,
et oves, quas pretioso Filii tui sanguine redemisti,
in aeternis pascuis collocare digneris.

This prayer was not in the 1962MR but it had antecedents in various ancient sacramentaries.  It would note the alliterations around the labial sounds: p’s and b.  In EdE 62, the very end of the letter, John Paul II quotes St. Thomas Aquinas’ sequence Lauda Sion: “Bone pastor, panis vere…O Good Shepherd, O True Bread”.  This section of the sequence was once a popular indulgenced prayer during the elevation of the Host. 

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):

Father, eternal shepherd,
watch over the flock redeemed by the blood of Christ
and lead us to the promised land.

Do you suspect that ICEL left some things out back in 1973?   The Lewis & Short Dictionary, ever-faithful and reliable, is our first resource in the search for what this prayer really says.  Intendo, which is used in this imperative form at the beginning of recitation of each of the hours of the Liturgy of the Hours, means many things, including, “to turn one’s attention to, exert one’s self for, to purpose, endeavor, intend.”  Placo is a verb meaning “to reconcile” and also “to quiet, soothe, calm, assuage, appease, pacify”.  In the participle form used as an adjective it is “soothed, appeased, calmed; quiet, gentle, still, calm, peaceful.”  Think of “placated”.  For grex, think of “gregarious”, for it means, “a flock, hard, drove, swarm” in reference to animal and, in a good sense or bad, “a company, society, troop, band, crowd.”   Something “egregious” is an offensive act that separates you “from the herd”.   Colloco signifies “to place together, to arrange, to station, lay, put, place, set, set up, erect, etc., a thing (or person) somewhere”.    In Latin ovis, is always feminine and means “a sheep”.  This is why the plural quas is in feminine form. I think that promoters of inclusive language should complain.

LITERAL TRANSLATION:
Direct your thought, O good Shepherd, to your flock,
and deign to establish in eternal pastures the sheep
whom you have redeemed by the Precious Blood of your Son.

I am reminded strongly of the Latin version of John 10: 

I am the good shepherd (pastor bonus). The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (oves).  He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold (ovile); I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.” (vv. 11-16 – RSV).

When Pope St. Leo the Great quoted this passage in his homily on Wednesday of Holy Week, 19 May 452 he said “et erit unus grex et unus pastor” (Tract. 63, 6, CCL 138A, 386).   I also am reminded of what the Risen Lord said to Peter on the banks of the Sea of Galilee: “Pasce oves meas…Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).  Speaking of sheep, the Carthaginian-born former slave playwright Terence (c. 190 – c. 159 BC) had his character Thais say to Pythias, “ovem lupo commisisti…you entrusted the sheep to the wolf” (cf. Eunuchus 5, 1 16) and Cicero (106-43 BC) ranted against Marc Anthony, “O praeclarum custodem ovium, ut aiunt, lupum… O outstanding wolf, as they say, guardian of the sheep….” (Orat. Philippica in Antonium 3, 11, 27).  Isn’t it amazing how we can still draw wisdom from the ancients as we watch ecclesiastical dustups today?  But I digress…

Today’s Mass has various “pastoral” images.  Two years ago we saw what the Collect really said for this Sunday: “Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, deduc nos ad societatem caelestium gaudiorum, ut eo perveniat humilitas gregis, quo processit fortitudo pastoris… Almighty and ever-living God, lead us unto the communion of heavenly joys, so that the humility of the flock may reach that place from whence the might of the shepherd came forth.”  Clearly there is a thematic connection between the collect and final prayer today: gregis…pastoris.  Notice the intertwined meanings of “flock, communion, society”.   Both the Collect and Post communion seem to be from similar sources. Neither were in the 1962MR while the Super oblata was.  I may be going out on a limb, but I am guessing they were put together by the same person.

I once described how in the ancient basilicas of Rome and elsewhere beautiful mosaics depict the end times (also conceived to be the present moment for the baptized members of the Church), in which we (or sometimes the apostles themselves) depicted as courtly sheep processing elegantly through a green pasture with flowing water (baptism) toward either the throne of the triumphant Lord or to the door of the heavenly Jerusalem (cf. John 10 wherein Jesus says He is the gatekeeper of the sheepfold, the safe pasture).  In our reception of Holy Communion we have the closest approximation of the climactic moment of our reception into eternal holy communion, into that ultimate sheepfold with God in heaven.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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