Deus, qui nobis aeternitatis aditum
glorificatione Christi tui
et Sancti Spiritus illuminatione reserasti,
ut, tanti doni particeps, devotio nostra proficiat,
et ad fidei transferamur augmentum.
This was not in any pre-Conciliar version of the Missale Romanum, but it has a forerunner in the Veronese Sacramentary in the month of May in a section for prayers, wait for it, against the enemies of the Catholic faith.
There are really hard words in this prayer. Again and again in these daily WDTPRS offerings we have seen the polyvalent devotio, which means so much more than simple “devotion”. Transfero, by the way, can also mean “translate” texts.
O God, who unbarred for us the avenue of eternity
by the glorification of Your Christ
and the illumination of the Holy Spirit,
grant, we beg,
that as a participant of such a great gift, our fervor will gain ground
and we will be conveyed unto am increase of faith.
Words like aditus (“the place through which one approaches a thing, an entrance, avenue”) and transfero (“to bear across; to carry or bring over; to convey over, transport, transfer”) and resero (“to open, lay open, unclose”) and proficio (“to go forward, advance, gain ground, make progress”), give me the image of movement towards a goal while overcoming obstacles. It is as if the Body of the Church was straining forward at the gate of a racecourse, waiting for the starting gun. Otherwise, perhaps along the arduous road, the pilgrim soldiers encountered a roadblock, perhaps a insuperable landslide blocking the way.
Note also that even though this prayer refers to the goal (aeternitas) it specifically concerns our present life. We are begging for an increase of faith. We have faith in this life, when we must examine all things as if through a glass, darkly. In the life to come we will no longer have faith. We will have knowledge.
This prayer also reminds us not to rest on our laurels, so to speak. We live in a state of “already, but not yet”, to be sure. Our salvation has been effected by Christ through His “glorification” in His agonizing Passion and subsequent Resurrection and Ascension. We must go through our own glorification. This means that we need to be moving forward. We cannot simply lie down and wait for things to happen. Our devotio must “make progress” so as to be of advantage to us.
This is a time of year when many are being received into the Church and young people are being confirmed in the Latin Church. Sometimes, very often as a matter of fact, confirmation winds up being the exitus sacrament rather than the aditus sacrament bringing them into deeper participation in the Church. Many of our brothers and sister, once their formal catechism ended, have never bothered to continue their Christian formation in the faith in which we believe, so that the faith by which we believe could also increase. So, they come to their 70th year with the “faith” of a 17 year old, or even a 7 year old, and not in the sense Jesus’ was talking about in Mark 10:13-16!
Going back to the roots of this prayer, I am lead to muse on the issue of being an enemy of the faith. Enemies are not only those who take up arms and wickedly fight against you. They are also those who stand around and do nothing.