What Does the Prayer Really Say? 3rd Sunday of Advent “Gaudete” – Station: St. Peter in the Vatican
ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN The Wanderer in 2006
I have had interesting correspondence with a scholar of Latin, Claudia Wick, who works for the Munich based Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (TLL) project. The TLL is to Latin what the Oxford English Dictionary is to English. CW is also a consultant with Ecclesia Orans. Ecclesia Orans is to the revision of the German translation of the Missale Romanum as the Vox Clara Committee is to the English translation. Some time ago, CW had requested the four articles I did on the consecration formula for the Precious Blood, which included the detailed examination of the history behind the incorrect translation of “pro multis” as “for all”. We have subsequently learned of His Eminence Francis Card. Arinze’s letter to conferences of bishops communicating His Holiness’s decision that vernacular translations of “pro multis” must be accurately translated not as “for all” but “for many” or a similar phrase. This means that the German revision must have “für viele” and not “für alle” (“for all”). CW now writes that she used my WDTPRS articles in a piece for Kirchliche Umschau, compared to which The Wanderer would seem like The Tablet or National Catholic Reporter. The article is entitled: “Schluß mit dem Pseudo-Hebraismus im Wandlungswort!” … “Enough with the fake Hebraizing in the Words of Consecration!” Here is a bit of CW’s last e-mail note (edited): “I was asked to write a philological article about this [“pro multis”] question (including Hebrew). I have just finished it. … You may think that the title is a bit aggressive, but I must confess I am so angry about all the pseudo-science in this question, and I am so sad every time I hear “für alle”! They must stop it, it’s pseudo, pseudo, pseudo! And some of the documents are shocking. Thank you again for your help and Oremus pro Papa nostro Benedicto et omnibus episcopis!” CW sent me a copy of her article and it is a doozey. In it I learned of some other writers who have tackled the “pro multis”. Thank you, CW, for your work. The cat is most definitely out of the bag on this one and it ain’t going back in.
Speaking of the Vox Clara Committee, they had a meeting in Rome this last week. This is the group set up by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments to be a liaison between the Holy See, ICEL and conferences of bishops. The different episcopal conferences have approved the draft of the ordinary of Mass (the prayers used every day), although the American bishops submitted a whole sheaf of emendations. The Committee needed to review them. They are also examining the “eucological formulas”, or the prayers that change each day, such as the Post Communion which we are studying in WDTPRS this year. At the end of their meeting, a press release was issued. Here is part of it:
The Committee’s work at this meeting consisted primarily of a review of the most recent ICEL Green Book translation of the first half of the Proper of the Saints. The members of the Committee were again grateful for the quality of the work and noted the significant progress which the mixed commission continues to make in the translation of the Roman Missal. At the same time, a number of suggestions were offered to the Congregation concerning ways in which the translation could be improved.
At the request of the Congregation, the Committee continues its review of the approvals of the Order of Mass which have been submitted by various Conferences of Bishops. In the light of the Congregation’s intention to proceed to the recognitio of this first “white book” of the Roman Missal in a timely fashion, the Committee hopes to complete its review of this text at its next meeting.
During the meeting, the members and advisors met with Cardinal Francis Arinze and Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, Prefect and Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Cardinal Prefect once again expressed the gratitude of the Congregation and renewed the expression of his hope that the progress of the work will result in a fulfillment of the Holy Father’s desire for a timely completion of the Roman Missal.
Cardinal Arinze also recalled the most recent decision of Pope Benedict XVI that a more precise translation of pro multis be included in the translation of the Order of Mass. He emphasized the importance of a common English-language rendering of this text, noting that it remains to be seen whether the translation will eventually be formulated as “for many” or “for the many.”
One of the interesting things we can glean from this last paragraph is a confirmation that Pope Benedict made the decision that “pro multis” will no longer be rendered as “for all” and must be properly translated. Frankly, I lean toward “the many”, which sounds somewhat more inclusive than “for many”. I have this wonderful image of all the members of the Committee solemnly picking up their fountain pens and drawing a line through the words “for all” in their drafts. We must continue to cross our fingers about the rendering of “consubstantialem Patri” in the Creed.
It strikes me that the process will clip along now. The Press release says that the Pope is aware of the progress and he is urging it forward. I reported some weeks ago that Msgr. Bruce Harbert, the Executive Secretary of ICEL, compared the process to an assembly line. It takes awhile to build the machinery and start it, but once it is up and running the final products come out at the finish as fast as the materials go in. Also, translations of the proper prayers are not going incite the controversy that bogged down the preparation of the ordinary of Mass. There is a lot to do yet, but the process seems to be working well. And “pro multis” is off the table.
The Third Sunday in this preparatory season is one of what I call “nickname Sundays”: Gaudete. The name derives from the Latin plural imperative and means “Rejoice!” During Advent and Lent instrumental music are not to be used in church, though organ can sustain congregational singing. This musical “fasting” underscores the penitential dimension of Advent. This Sunday, in imitation of the practice that originated for the 4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (which also means “Rejoice!”) musical instruments may be played. The spirit of penance is slightly relaxed by virtue of our proximity to Christmas. Thus, flowers can be seen on the altar for this Sunday as an exception to the austere and bare sanctuary that befits a spirit of self-denial. The priest can use rose (rosacea) colored vestments today rather than purple, as he does on Laetare Sunday. This is why Advent wreaths have three purple and one rose candle: those are the colors the Catholic priest wears at Mass.
If you are someplace where Gregorian chant is sung during Holy Mass, listen carefully to the Antiphon for Communion. Antiphons are short phrases meant to call to mind a larger biblical text. Sometimes the real point of the antiphon is not in the text of the antiphon, but rather in the text the antiphon is supposed to remind you of. For Communion this Sunday we hear Isaiah 35:4: Dicite pusillanimes: confortamini et nolite timere…
Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
After a moment of silence the priest intones today’s prayer after Communion.
LATIN (2002 Missale Romanum):
Tuam, Domine, clementiam imploramus,
ut haec divina subsidia, a vitiis expiatos,
ad festa ventura nos praeparent.
This prayer is in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary. It is also the Postcommunio for this same Sunday in the 1962MR, though slightly rearranged for the Novus Ordo giving it a more elegant sound.
The unrivaled Lewis & Short Dictionary indicates that clementia, means “a calm, tranquil state of the elements, calmness, mildness, tranquility” and, by extension, “indulgent, forbearing conduct towards the errors and faults of others, moderation, mildness, humanity, forbearance, benignity, clemency, mercy.” It can be a form of address also, as in “Your Clemency”. The verb imploro, a compound of ploro (“to weep aloud”), means “to invoke with tears, call to one’s assistance, call upon for aid; to invoke, beseech, entreat, implore”. Subsidium we have seen before: “the troops stationed in reserve in the third line of battle (behind the principes), the line of reserve, reserve-ranks, triarii” and thus “support, assistance, aid, help, protection”. A vitium is “a fault, defect, blemish, imperfection, vice” and consequently, “a moral fault, failing, error, offence, crime, vice”. Expio means “to make satisfaction, amends, atonement for a crime or a criminal; to purify any thing defiled with crime; to atone for, to expiate, purge by sacrifice.”
ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
God of mercy,
may this eucharist bring us your divine help,
free us from our sins,
and prepare us for the birthday of our Savior.
And I was in such a good mood. Since I am writing on the feast of St. Nicholas, maybe this was my lump of coal for the day. Still, here we find a use of “help” which surprisingly reflects the Latin and doesn’t make us sound like Pelagians!
We implore Your mercy, O Lord,
that these divine supports may prepare us,
purified from our faults, for the coming feast days.
Keep in mind the context of this prayer. This is Advent, which is a penitential season, although not as severe as Lent. Today we have a slight lifting of penitential attitude in the liturgy without forgetting the Baptist’s urging to “make straight the paths” for the Lord, our Judge. Never lose sight of the fact that Advent looks both to the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem, but also to the Second Coming at the end of the world. Today during Mass we anticipate the joy of Christmas with flowers, instrumental music, and rosacea vestments. But now we come to the end of Mass and hear a stark prayer, spare in its language, reminding us of our sins. We hear military language (subsidia) which reminds us that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. In the Latin Rite, Holy Mass ends abruptly. Seconds after the priest intones the Post Communion, he blesses us and literally orders us to get out, to go back into the world to our work: “Ite! missa est… Go! Mass is over!”
In our Roman Rite we therefore have a strong connection between the reception of the Eucharist at Mass and its effect on our daily lives. The rapid ending of the Mass creates a continuity between the act of receiving Blessed Sacrament and our acts as we live our vocations. Receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Eucharist shapes us for the challenges of life. In fact, unlike normal food we consume and change into our own bones and flesh, the Eucharist is the food which transforms us into what It is. After our act of thanksgiving, we must carry this Eucharistic sense with us out the door of the church and into every corner and encounter.