Monday of the 5th Week of Easter
Deus, qui fidelium mentes unius efficis voluntatis,
da populis tuis id amare quod praecipis,
id desiderare quod promittis,
ut, inter mundanas varietates,
ibi nostra fixa sint corda, ubi vera sunt gaudia.
This prayers is same as the Collect for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time and also in the 1962MR on the Fourth Sunday after Easter. In the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary you find it on the Third Sunday after the close of Easter.
All those long "eeee" sounds produced by the Latin letter i are marvelous. Note the nice parallels: id amare quod praecipis, id desiderare quod promittis as well as ibi…sint corda and ubi…sunt gaudia. In the first line the genitives unius…voluntatis are elegantly split by the verb efficis. A master made this prayer.
The pages of our opportunely situated Lewis & Short Dictionary divulge that varietas means “difference, diversity, variety.” It is commonly used to indicate “changeableness, fickleness, inconstancy.” I like “vicissitude.” The adjective mundanus, a, um, “of or belonging to the world”, must be teased out in a paraphrase. Efficio (formed from facio) means, “to make out, work out; hence, to bring to pass, to effect, execute, complete, accomplish, make, form”. Voluntas means basically “will” but it can also mean things like “freewill, wish, choice, desire, inclination” and even “disposition towards a thing or person”.
O God, You who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will,
grant unto Your people to love that thing which You command,
to desire that which You promise,
so that, amidst the vicissitudes of this world,
our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.
Let us revisit that id…quod construction. We could simply say “love that which you command,” or “love what you command”, but to me that seems vague and generic. Of course, we must love everything God commands, but the feeling I get from that id…quod is closer to what the Anglican version expresses: “love the thing which you command… desire the thing which you promise.” This seems more concrete.
We love and desire God’s will in the concrete situation, this concrete task. A challenge of living as a good Christian in “the world” is to love God in the details of life, especially when those details little to our liking. We must love him in this beggar, this annoying creep, not in beggars or creeps in general. We must love him in this act of fasting, not in fasting in general. This basket of laundry, this paperwork, this ICEL translation…. Hmmm…, didn’t I say it was a challenge? God’s will must not be reduced to something abstract, as if it is merely a “heavenly” or “ideal” reality. “Thy will (voluntas) be done on earth as it is in heaven.”