What Does the Prayer Really Say? 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time
ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN The Wanderer in 2003
SF writes via e-mail: “Thank you for your wonderful column. I use it frequently in our small homeschooling Latin class to help clarify and add interest to our lessons. I have been looking in vain for almost a year for a Latin Bible in order that our highschoolers might start translating from the Bible. We tried to order one from PAX books in Italy for over four months with no luck. Can you recommend which Latin bible to buy and where to get it? I noticed mention of a German edition in The Latin Mass magazine and also that there is a Nova Vulgata Latina from the Vatican – help! I can’t help but think that many Catholic homeschool families (most of whom study Latin) would be interested in ordering a Latin Bible.” Oddly, SF, this is the second time in a very short period that paxbook.com has come up in a reader’s question. Though they list good books, I have so far never heard of anyone being happy with their shipping service. There is a “New” Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible in Latin put out by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. It was in preparation for a long while, coming out in bits and pieces until Pope Paul VI in 1965 established a special Commission for the Neo-Vulgate under Augustin Card. Bea and it was issued by His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1979 with his Apostolic Constitution Scripturarum thesaurus. I recommend that you check used bookstores for a volume of the older Vulgate. It is also on the internet in many places. Also, the Neo-Vulgate is available in its entirety online on the Vatican’s website (http://www.vatican.va/archive/bible ) SF, why don’t you simply take texts from that website and print them out as needed in whatever format you want? Remember too, dear readers, is the Congregation for Divine Worship’s (CDW) document Liturgiam authenticam (LA) , establishing the norms for liturgical translations, stipulates that when the liturgical texts indicate specific verses of Holy Scripture, the Neo-Vulgate now is the only reference for what those verses are (since over the history of Scripture scholarship the numbering of verses has changed) though LA does not specify that the Neo-Vulgate text must itself be translated (other ancient sources can be used).
LATIN (2002 Missale Romanum):
Sit nobis, Domine, reparatio mentis et corporis
caeleste mysterium, ut simus eius in gloria coheredes,
cui, mortem ipsius annuntiando, compatimur.
Though it has little to recommend itself rhythmically there is some strong and pleasant “s” (including the soft “ti + vowel”) and “k” alliteration in throughout this prayer. In the 1962MR we find for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost a similar Postcommunio prayer: “Sit nobis, Domine, reparatio mentis et corporis caeleste mysterium: ut cuius exsequimur cultum, sentiamus effectum.”
As always you veteran WDTPRS readers now instantly recognize how mysterium indicates the sacramental mysteries being celebrated in Holy Mass and that it is usually interchangeable with sacramentum. I will often translate both of those terms with the slightly extended “sacramental mystery”. Reparatio (“a restoration, renewal”) is derived from reparo, which we have seen before, meaning “to get, acquire, or procure again; to recover, retrieve; to restore, repair, renew” and also in mercantile language, “to procure by exchange; to purchase, obtain with something.” Coheres is a noun compound of heres which signifies, “a coheir, fellow-heir”. According to the inestimably valuable Lewis & Short Dictionary, the deponent verb compatior (cvm + patior) communicates both “to suffer with” and “to have compassion, to feel pity”. Patior is what gives us the English word “Passion” for what the Lord experienced before His death on the Cross. To have “compassion” is to suffer together with another person and associate oneself with the pain of another.
Clearly what we have at the basis of this prayer is Romans 8:14-18:
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. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs (coheredes) with Christ, provided we suffer with him (compatimur) in order that we may also be glorified (glorificemur) with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory (gloriam) that is to be revealed to us.
ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
may this eucharist
in which we proclaim the death of Christ
bring us salvation
and make us one with him in glory.
Right away one needs to be suspicious in a healthy way about the accuracy of this ICEL version, now happily a lame-duck. First of all, it is shorter than the Latin original, which virtually never happens when translating Latin into English. Secondly, even someone who doesn’t know Latin that well will glance back and forth between the Latin and the ICEL versions and see that the Latin words which are in some ways similar to corresponding or derivative English words have not been carried over conceptually in the ICEL text. It may be that we can do a little better, even if we are not in these columns making any attempt to produce a translation that is suitable for liturgical use. In these weekly columns we are simply trying to get at what the prayers really say and, thereby, inspire people to explore and love the great gift of the liturgy more and more.
O Lord, let the heavenly sacramental mystery be for us
a restoration of mind and body, so that we may be coheirs in the glory of Him
with whom we share suffering by proclaiming His death.
The main concept underlying this prayer seems to be our spiritual adoption and our new status in the Holy Spirit as the children of God, the brothers and sisters of Christ, with a common heavenly Father.
In our baptism and by our professing and living our faith we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and, as we read, the indwelling of the three divine Persons of the Triune God (cf. John 14:23). This relationship that begins with humble submission on our part together with the reception of the “character” or “owner’s mark” in our souls, far from enslaving us actually sets us free. Through our baptismal character God goes far beyond merely setting us free from the bondage of sin. He adopts us as His own and actually makes us His sons and daughters, not just slaves or even freed slaves. With the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we can also begin to address God with more than reverential fear and awe. We can now also address ourselves intimately to Him as “Abba” or “Father” (cf. Mark 14:36). And beyond the divine filiation which makes us God’s “legal” children, by which He takes special responsibility for us, He also makes us co-heirs with His eternally Only-Begotten so that we can be admitted also to the joys of heaven which Christ, our brother in our humanity, has in perfect possession with His resurrection and ascension to the Father’s right hand (cf. Romans 8:34). If once we were slaves of sin and we were His enemies (Romans 5:10-11) now we are sons and daughters, and first class sons and daughters at that, having a (re)birthright to inherit.
However, also within the prayer there is clearly a hint of “unfinished business”. There is an “already but not yet” dimension to the prayer. The process of divine filiation, while enacted in Christ as the first-fruits of what will be open to us, will be complete only at the end of things, with the Resurrection and Final Judgment. As we read in the same eighth chapter of Romans which is at the basis of today’s Post Communion prayer: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (vv. 22-23 – emphasis added).
It might be helpful to consider that, in the ancient world, adoption didn’t carry with it some of the unfortunate stigma that seems to cling to it in more modern times. Perhaps some of the stigma comes from unspoken questions about the circumstances that led to a child being legally adopted rather than remaining with biological parents. For this reason now there are laws and statues, at least in the USA, for secrecy and sealing records so as to protect the parties involved. However, in the time of the early Church, when Paul the Roman citizen wrote to the Romans, adoption was very open, accepted and useful in many levels of society. It was the most normal thing in the world to adopt and be adopted for the sake of sealing the ties between families and ensuring the passing on of political clout and financial power. Without question the Apostle of the Gentiles writes to the Romans (and also the Galatians (4:4-5) and Ephesians (1:5)) about their adoptions in glowingly positive terms. There is not a trace of stigma attached to this divine filiation. It is actually a matter of the greatest consolation and pride!
One has to wonder what kind of impact a new, or rather ancient, sense of adoption might have on the tragic choices women make when they seek an abortion rather than putting her child into the care of people who long to raise him or her.
So, in today’s Post Communion, the priest affirms that we are the co-heirs of Christ and the inheritance we both have now already and still do not yet have in full possession is a share in God’s own glory. We do not know fully what this glory is. It will be revealed to us eventually (cf. Romans 8:18). However, we do know that somehow participation in that glory to come involves our suffering now. If we are co-heirs of the glory that Christ obtains for us, then we are also the co-heirs of His sufferings. Each of us, in our own and individual way, must embrace the sufferings we are offered in anticipation of the glory to come. The Cross always precedes the glory.
For more on the glory that flows from our uniting our sufferings with those of the crucified and risen Lord, it is very worth the time to read the Holy Father’s intense and deep Apostolic Letter of 1984 entitled Salvifici doloris about the Christian meaning of human suffering:
21. The cross of Christ throws salvific light, in a most penetrating way, on man’s life and in particular on his suffering. For through faith the cross reaches man together with the resurrection: the mystery of the passion is contained in the Paschal Mystery. … Thus to share in the sufferings of Christ is, at the same time, to suffer for the kingdom of God…. Christ has led us into this kingdom through His suffering. And also through suffering those surrounded by the mystery of Christ’s Redemption became mature enough to enter this kingdom.
22. To the prospect of the kingdom of God is linked hope in that glory which has its beginning in the cross of Christ. The resurrection revealed this glory — eschatological glory — which in the cross of Christ was completely obscured by the immensity of suffering. Those who share in the sufferings of Christ are also called, through their own sufferings, to share in glory. Paul expresses this in various places. To the Romans he writes: “We are…fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him….”