What Does the Prayer Really Say? 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN The Wanderer in 2005
I am delighted to receive from AK this wonderful missive (edited): “When we first started receiving The Wanderer your WDTPRS column was solely my husband’s domain. He would sometimes point out parts for me to read or quote you out loud. (He likes your writing style.) It wasn’t until we decided to home school, with the daunting task of teaching something neither of us has ANY clue about (Latin), that I started skimming your column. I am sure your WDTPRS archives will be very helpful when our girls get into Latin. Certainly, the dictionary you always refer to is a Must Buy for them. Thank you for your insightful columns and interesting articles. I look forward to reading more – any that you write.” O wise parents are they who plan to obtain the mighty Lewis & Short Dictionary for then offspring! Remember, AK, that the L&S is not a good beginner dictionary. There is too simply much information in each entry for young learners. A smaller student dictionary will suit their needs better. Also, AK, if you have enjoyed the columns and found them useful, perhaps you will share the experience and give gift subscriptions of The Wanderer to friends – even to priests. Rev. Mr. TK writes (edited): “Thank you for the great and very important work that you do. I am a regular reader of your column in The Wanderer. I also enjoyed hearing your comments on FOX News during our ‘Papal April’. I am a permanent deacon…. I would like to know if there is a better English translation of the Liturgy of the Hours than ICEL has given us.” Well, TK, I don’t use English myself (I use Latin or Italian) but perhaps the three volume edition of the Liturgy of the Hours for England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Australia (reprint 1983) is superior to the American edition. The important thing is that we clerics pray the hours with reverence, whatever the version or language.
COLLECT – (2002MR):
Deus, qui, per adoptionem gratiae,
lucis nos esse filios voluisti,
praesta, quaesumus, ut errorum non involvamur tenebris,
sed in splendore veritatis semper maneamus conspicui.
According to the abovementioned L&S the verb involvo involves “to roll to or upon anything.” By extension it also means, “wrap up, envelope” and “cover, overwhelm, surround.” WDTPRS has been “wrapped up” in translating Latin prayers so that you know what they really say and so that you will “involved” by writing letters to those in charge of preparing new translations. Conspicuus, a, um, as opposed to occultus, is an adjective for something that is in view or comes into view. Thus, it is means “that attracts the attention to itself, striking, conspicuous, distinguished, illustrious, remarkable”. The noun splendor is, “sheen, brightness, brilliance, luster, splendor” and moreover, “dignity, excellence.”
At work in the prayer, which has its roots in the 9th c. Sacramentarium Bergomense (Bergamo, Italy), are themes of divine adoption and the splendor of truth. Before the saving mission of Christ we were separated the Father. Without baptism we are separated from His family. Before Christ, mankind walked in darkness. Our prayer connects separation from the Father with being wrapped up in error. It joins divine adoption with coming into view in the light of Truth. Christ’s Sacrifice and our baptism takes us out of the darkness and brings us once more into view and into God family.
No one hearing this prayer can miss the phrase: in splendore veritatis. Some Fathers of the Church and many Medieval writers used the phrase splendor veritatis in different contexts. For the Fathers, the splendor – associated with light and with the divine presence – variously describes the pillar of cloud and fire which lead the People out of bondage and into the light of freedom, the cloud that settled on the mountain or tent when God wished to speak with Moses, after which his face would be resplendent with light, or the shining light of the transfigured Lord on Mount Tabor. St Augustine of Hippo (+430) twice connected “splendor of truth” with “fervor of charity” (fervor caritatis) a connection which centuries later the “Seraphic” Doctor of the Church, cardinal and Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (+1274) would take up and expand. For Augustine and Bonaventure, living in the light of the truth, which is love of God also meant also love of neighbor. With what kind of love must we treat our neighbor? With fervor, “a boiling or raging heat, a violent heat, a raging…” This is no lukewarm love which Jesus will spew away. This is fervid feverish burning raging love after His lacerated Sacred Heart, that “burning furnace of love”. We cannot love God and not love neighbor. In our words and deeds, in “a raging heat of charity”, we must reflect this two-fold love or we are not true Christians. Being one in Christ means concrete actions.
In our own time, the late Pope John Paul II in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis splendor began to correct erroneous and dangerous tendencies in some contemporary moral theologians. The Pope wrote:
The splendor of the truth shines forth in all the works of the Creator and, in a special way, in man, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26). Truth enlightens man’s intelligence and shapes his freedom, leading him to know and love the Lord. Hence the Psalmist prays: “Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord” (Ps 4:6). … Called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ “the true light that enlightens everyone” (Jn 1:9), people become “light in the Lord” and “children of light” (Eph 5:8), and are made holy by “obedience to the truth” (1 Pet 1:22).
Truth brings us into the light and sets us free. Error binds us up, prevents us from acting like free persons. In the light of day we can walk freely and know where we are going without getting hurt or lost. In darkness we grope, stumble, and run against unseen obstacles. In today’s Collect “shadows of errors” are presented like a horrible smothering envelopment hiding God from our sight and us from His sight as if we were caught in a dark forgotten tomb: buried alive. The wounds of original sin make it difficult to know what is good and right and true. Our intellects are clouded. When through either the working of our minds or the help of human or divine authority we discern the good, then we still need to choose it with our wounded will. We often convince ourselves that actions which are in reality bad, wrong and false are actually good, right and true. Thus we come to believe we are “free” and acting rightly when doing things that are quite wicked. If this is habitual, after a while we numb ourselves both to the truth and also to error and sin. Once we are enwrapped up in the darkness of errors, which began in self-deception, ever after we lurch through life like horror movie zombies, grotesque mockeries of what God intended for His holy images. However, God makes it possible to put off the darkness and put on the light (Rom 13:12-14). By the merits of Christ’s Sacrifice and through His sacraments and teaching through the Church we can be the free and beautiful images God wants us to be in this life and later in life everlasting. This is what every restless human heart truly desires. As Augustine wrote: “Late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient, and so new. You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I rushed headlong upon these lovely things which you have made. You were with me but I was not with you. Created things kept me far from You, those things which could not exist but in You. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed you fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burn for your peace” (Confessions 10,27).
Another theme of this Collect is our identity as children of God through adoptio gratiae, adoption of grace. During Mass keep your ears pricked up, ready to pick up Biblical references in the prayers. St. Paul writes often about spiritual adoption (e.g., Gal 4:5 and Eph 1:15, et al.). Writing to the Romans he tells us something about the moral implications of spiritual sonship:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh Ã¢â‚¬â€˜Ã¢â‚¬â€˜ for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship (adoptio filiorum). When we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:1-15 RSV)
O God, who wanted us to be children of the light
through the adoption of grace,
grant, we beg, that we not be bound up in the shadows of errors,
but rather that we remain always striking in the splendor of the truth.
There is serious depth to this Collect. I have barely scratched the surface of what I could write about its content, but I wanted to give you at least something of what it really says. We have been deprived, nay rather cheated of our inheritance for over three decades of ghastly translations. We are sons and daughters of Holy Mother Church, coheirs with Christ in the spiritual adoption of grace. We sons and daughters have rights and we have needs. When will our ghostly Fathers give us the new translation? WHEN? Have you written yet? Think about that on Sunday when you will have to listen to this:
ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
you call your children
to walk in the light of Christ.
Free us from darkness
and keep us in the radiance of your truth.