Let’s continue our Advent preparation with a look at the Collect for Wednesday of the 1st Week of Advent.
Praepara, quaesumus, Domine Deus noster,
corda nostra divina tua virtute,
ut, veniente Christo Filio tuo,
digni inveniamur aeternae vitae convivio,
et cibum caelestem, ipso ministrante, percipere mereamur.
This is based on an ancient prayer in the Gelasian Sacramentary: Praecinge, quaesumus, domine deus noster, lumbos mentis nostrae diuina tua uirtute potencium, ut uenientem dominum nostrum Iesum Christum filium tuum digni inueniamur aeternae uitae conuiuio et uota caelestium dignitatum ab ipso percipere mereamur.
Ministro is "to attend, wait upon, serve, esp. at table, to serve up, pour out, hand food or drink". Percipio is to "to take possession of, to seize, occupy" but also "to learn, know, conceive, comprehend, understand, perceive".
WDTPRS REALLY LITERAL VERSION:
O Lord our God, we beseech You, prepare
our hearts by means of Your divine power,
so that, as Christ Your Son is coming,
we may be found worthy of the banquet of heavenly life,
and, He Himself acting as the servant, we may merit to receive the celestial food.
ONE PROPOSED VERSION:
Prepare our hearts, we pray, O Lord our God,
by your divine power,
that at the coming of Christ your Son
we may be found worthy of the banquet of eternal life
and fit to receive the food of heaven from him who
Here is the image of Christ as the "minister" of the heavenly Communion.
Do you remember what the Lord said about the master of the house who goes away and, on his return, finds the servants ready to let him in when he knocks even if it is at a very inconvenient hour? Jesus said that the master of the house himself will serve the servants.
This ties closely to yesterday’s prayer.
In percipio we have the idea of "perceiving" with the faculties of reason what is going on. At the Coming of the Lord (either at our death or the end of the world) we will move from faith (our state here) to understanding (our state in heaven). There will be amazing moments of realization in heaven. Never ending opportunities of discovery and amazment before the Beatific Vision. What food for the soul! We will not have Eucharistic Communion in heaven. There will be no Mass in heaven. Instead we will have the Risen Lord as He is, rather than under signs perceived by our senses.
If there will be incredible and joyful moments of realization in heaven, consider this. There will be incredible moments of realization in hell. Imagine the first five seconds of realization of the soul in hell. Imagine the moments of realization that occur, with the peculiar sharpness only hell could possibly produce, for eternity.
Advent preparation must lead us always to a profound consideration of the Four Last Things.
We are living in a state of "already but not yet". Later in today’s Mass, after reading Scripture (the Word in which the Lord comes) and the consecration (in which the Lord comes) we have Communion (in which the Lord comes). The alter Christus comes gives Him to us as we kneel in wonder and gratitude.