What Does the Prayer Really Say? Exaltation of the Cross (24th Sunday of Ordinary Time)
ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN The Wanderer in 2003
Again the ubiquitous Rome correspondent of the left-leaning National Catholic Reporter, Mr. John L. Allen, Jr., writes in his “The Word From Rome” column of 29 August 2003 that the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) “will host a meeting of the presidents of English-speaking bishops’ conferences on Oct. 21 to discuss liturgical translation. General issues are to include: The roles of the Vatican’s liturgy congregation and bishops’ conferences; more effective communication and consultation; and inculturation, in light of the third edition of the Roman Missal and a 1994 set of Vatican guidelines urging caution in integrating local customs into the liturgy.” We are seeing now put into action what I have for some time contended is the key to understanding the CDW’s 2001 document Liturgiam authenticam (LA), establishing norms for vernacular liturgical translations: inculturation. LA was the fifth instruction issued by the CDW for the proper implementation of the Second Vatican Council’s great Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy entitled Sacrosanctum Concilium. It followed the fourth instruction in 1994 called Varietates legitimae (VL) concerning a proper inculturation and permissible adaptations of the liturgy. Indeed LA and VL must be read in light each other. Inculturation, properly, understood will be the key principle at the foundation of the new English translations being prepared following upon the release of the third edition of the Missale Romanum in 2002.
There is more news on the liturgical front. The head of the Vatican’s hyper-dicastery, Secretary of State Angelo Card. Sodano recently spoke at a conference in Acireale Italy for National Liturgical Week. Forty years after the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium His Eminence now states that, according the news account from Zenit.org, it is right to examine the way the pivotal Constitution was has been implemented in the last four decades, in order to “relaunch” it. Card. Sodano said, "Forty years later, it is right to ask what the liturgical reform itself has represented for the renewal of Christian communities, to what degree the liturgy, reformed according to the indications of the council, is able to mediate between faith and life, so that it forms believers able to offer consistent evangelical testimony”. He continued, “it is useful to ask oneself with clarity and sincerity if the reform has experienced some weak point and where, and, above all, how it can be relaunched for the good of the Christian people.” Resonating with what countless Catholics have been facing in the pews for decades now, His Eminence proposed that “perhaps some of the principles of the constitution have to be better understood and more faithfully applied.” In particular, he said, “it is useful to analyze some specific topics such as, for example, the relation between creativity and fidelity, between spiritual worship and life, between catechesis and celebration of the Mystery, between liturgical presidency and role of the assembly, between formation in the seminaries and the permanent formation of priests.”
Soon, hopefully, we will see a document about liturgical issues come forth from the CDW and we will hear tales of the meeting in October about translations, inculturation and the role of the bishops in their conferences in the process. Friends, pray for your bishop. His cares are many and the issue and duty of preparing translations is but one of his cares. While liturgy and its content is arguably “the source and summit” of our Catholic Christian lives, radiating its power into the farthest corners even of our moral lives, it will be a great temptation for the bishop, in the midst of many many administrative cares, law suits and funds to be raised, parish visits and unending committee meetings, to shuffle into the lap of some willing liturgist all the documentation and letters about translations he is being sent by the ream. If anything has been borne out over the years, liturgy and translations have received short shrift, at least insofar as they have required rectifying and the order of discipline.
But now hopes are raised. In the background many begin to think that words such as “discipline” and “reverence” have not been forgotten while from the podium and the press we hear words such as “relaunch” and “analyze” and, from such as the Cardinal Prefect of the CDW, “We want to respond to the spiritual hunger and sorrow so many of the faithful have expressed to us because of liturgical celebrations that seemed irreverent and unworthy of true adoration of God. You might sum up our document with words that echo the final words of the Mass: ‘The do-it-yourself Mass is ended. Go in peace.’”
We should encourage Cardinal Arinze:
Francis Card. Arinze
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship
and Discipline of the Sacraments
00120 Vatican City
LATIN (2002 Missale Romanum – 24th Sunday):
Mentes nostras et corpora possideat,
quaesumus, Domine, doni caelestis operatio,
ut non noster sensus in nobis,
sed eius praeveniat semper effectus.
This was the Postcommunio of the 15th Sunday after Pentecost in the 1962MR with the slight change of the change of an adverb semper for iugiter : …sed iugiter eius praeveniat effectus.
Our Virgil leading us through the dark woods of Latin vocabulary, the Lewis & Short Dictionary explains that the verb possideo is “to have and hold, to be master of, to own, possess” and also “to take possession of, to occupy.” An operatio is “a working, work, labor, operation” and by extension it means “a religious performance, service, or solemnity, a bringing of offerings: operationes denicales, offerings”. In ancient Christian authors it means, “beneficence, charity” (cf. Lactantius 6, 12 and Prudentius Psychomachia 573). Sensus , Ã…Â«s, m. (from the verb sentio) means “the faculty or power of perceiving, perception, feeling, sensation, sense”. In a corporeal sense it applies to “perception, feeling, sensation” and in a mental sense, it is for “feeling, sentiment, emotion, affection; sense, understanding, capacity; humor, inclination, disposition, frame of mind”. By extension, among other things, it is “the common feelings of humanity, the moral sense, taste, discretion, tact in intercourse with men, often called in full sensus communis (sometimes with hominum)” Effectus, which dervies from efficio, still means what it meant back in the Post communion on the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, that is, “to make out, work out; hence, to bring to pass, to effect, execute, complete, accomplish, make, form” and as a substantive, effectus, “worked out, i. e., effected, completed”. Praevenio signifies, “to come before, precede, get the start of, to outstrip, anticipate, to prevent; to come or go beforehand (late Latin).” We looked at this word at length in the column on the Post communion of the feast of Epiphany with a digression about the theological distinction made when speaking of actual graces and gratia praeveniens or “prevenient grace” and sometimes even “preventing grace”.
May the religious work of bringing the offering of the heavenly gift,
we beseech, O Lord, possess our minds and bodies,
so that its effect and not our common inclination
have precedence within us.
The vocabulary of our prayer today is very dense, and so our English translation will suffer if we try to come up with one-to-one equivalents for the Latin elements. For example, the word sensus has great weight. It means more than simply “sense”. Even in a non-theological source such as the preferred Latin Dictionary of fame we find that sensus carries meaning beyond what we might perceive by the five physical senses of the body or by the perceiving powers of the mind. It points to that which is common to all human beings, “common sense”. This not the “common sense” which we might have (or lack) in, for example, not standing too close with our back to the lions’ cage when posing for a photo. This is also not the Kantian a priori principle of every judgment of taste, the Kantian term for the so-called subjective principle which determines only by feeling rather than concepts, though nonetheless with universal validity, what is liked or disliked by all people. It is not quite the ancient Greek idea of koine aisthesis according to the Aristotle (De anima – II,6, 418a17-20) which applies to our capacities of perceiving objects through more than one sense. Aristotle suggests a “common sense” power by which we perceive things. Medieval Aristotelians suggest that sensus communis is the root and origin of all sensing. Thus we are able to hear the roar, feel the bite and then see the shaggy mane and realize that it is the one and the same lion gnawing us as he drags our leg into the cage … when we lack the other sort of common sense. So, we might say that this is the power of uniting mentally the impressions conveyed by the five physical senses which constitutes ordinary understanding, without which one is foolish or insane and thus prone to lack common sense.
ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
may the eucharist you have given us
influence our thoughts and actions.
May your Spirit guide and direct us in your way.
Take careful note of how, in the Latin, we are asking that Christ in the Eucharist be Lord of our entire person, both body and soul. The priest prays for us that, by the graces we receive through a good Holy Communion, our mere human gifts of senses and perception, even our impulses and inclinations, both physical and psychological, wounded as they are and still reduced in this world through the unreconstructed effects of original sin, not be the only arbiter in what we accomplish in life in thought and action through our minds and bodies (mentes et corpora). We need those human impulses when they are good and proper and under the control of discipline through our will and the aid of grace. But we suffer terrible wounds to our will and intellect because of Original Sin. We resist graces sometimes. Our own wicked habits do terrible damage. Left to ourselves, what good would we be inclined to do? And when we are inclined, how great a struggle is it? By our baptism we are admitted to the source of such strength that we can live well and please our God, in whose image we are made. May the Eucharistic Lord truly possess us and be admitted into every aspect of our lives, physical and spiritual, so that what we think and do may be pleasing to Him.
LATIN (2002 Missale Romanum – Exultation of the Holy Cross):
Refectione tua sancta enutriti,
Domine Iesu Christe, supplices deprecamur,
ut, quos per lignum crucis vivificae redemisti,
ad resurrectionis gloriam perducas.
Having been nourished upon your holy repast,
O Lord Jesus Christ, we supplicants earnestly pray,
that you may lead through to the glory of the resurrection
those whom you redeemed through the wood of the life-giving Cross.
ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
Lord Jesus Christ,
you are the holy bread of life.
Bring to the glory of the resurrection
the people you have redeemed by the wood of the Cross.