WDTPRS: 10th Sunday after Pentecost

Here is an excerpt from my article on this Sunday, the 10th after Pentecost in the traditional, pre-Conciliar calendar. 

Today’s Collect survived, sort of survived, to live in the post-Conciliar, reformed Missale Romanum on the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time.  I’ll show you the variation, below.

COLLECT (1962MR)
Deus, qui omnipotentiam tuam
parcendo maxime et miserando manifestas:
multiplica super nos misericordiam tuam;
ut, ad tua promissa currentes,
caelestium bonorum facias esse consortes.

In the Novus Ordo version the line “…multiplica super nos misericordiam tuam…” was replaced with “…gratiam tuam super nos indesinenter infunde”.  We will return to see what impact that has on the prayer.  However, I looked this prayer up in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary and found that the ancient version is as it appears in the 1962MR, not the Novus Ordo.  Sometimes the cutter-snippers of the Consilium restored older readings of ancient prayers that had survived with some changes in the pre-Conciliar Missal.  Not this time.  

Let’s now look at some nuts and bolts vocabulary.  Parco means, “to spare, have mercy, forbear to injure” and by extension, “forgive.”   This verb is used quite frequently in liturgical prayer as, for example, in the responses during the beautiful litanies we sing as Catholics, especially in time of need: “Parce nobis, Domine… Spare us, O Lord!”  During Lent the hauntingly poignant Latin chant informs our penitential spirit: “Parce, Domine… O Lord, spare your people: do not be wrathful with us forever.”  The noun consors comes from the fusion of the preposition for “with” and sors (“lot”), in the sense of a chance or ticket when “casting lots”, destiny, fate).   A consors is someone with whom you share a common destiny.  The densely arranged Lewis & Short Dictionary reveals that consors is “sharing property with one (as brother, sister, relative), living in community of goods, partaking of in common.”  The English word “lot” can be both “fate” and a “parcel of land.”  Having been made in God’s image and likeness, we are to act as God acts: to know, will and love.  Since God spares us and is merciful, then we must be similarly merciful and sparing if we want to be sharers and coheirs in the lot He has prepared for us.   Multiplico, as you might readily guess, means “to multiply, increase, augment”.

Just for kicks, let’s see the lame-duck ICEL version we are still forced to use.  Remember that a line was changed in the Latin of the Novus Ordo version, as I explained above. 

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
Father, you show your almighty power,
in your mercy and forgiveness.
Continue to fill us with your gifts of love.
Help us to hurry toward the eternal life you promise
and come to share in the joys of your kingdom.

LITERAL TRANSLATION (1962MR)
O God, who manifest Your omnipotence
especially by sparing and being merciful,
increase Your mercy upon us,
[pour Your grace upon us unceasingly, - 2002MR]
so that You may make us, rushing to the things You have promised,
to be partakers of heavenly benefits.

One of the ways God manifests His almighty nature is by being forgiving and sparing.   God is the creator and ruler, guide and governor of all that is seen and unseen, who keeps everything in existence by an act of His will, and reveals His omnipotence especially (maxime in our Collect) by means of mercy. 

By violating God’s will our first parents (the entire human race – which consisted of only two people at the time) opened up an infinite gulf between us and God.  Since the gulf was immeasurable, only an omnipotent God could bridge that gap and repair it.  God did not repair the breach because of justice.  He did so because He loves us and is merciful. 

People often slip into the trap of associating justice with manifestations of power.  In this Collect, however, we affirm the other side of power’s coin.  The miracles worked by Jesus in the Gospels, loving gestures to suffering individuals, were acts of mercy often connected to forgiveness of sins. 

The affirmation of divine mercy, however, does not diminish God’s justice.  Mercy does not mean turning a blind eye to justice, for that would be tantamount to betraying truth and charity.  Nevertheless, if justice must be upheld because God is Truth, so too must mercy be exercised because God is Love. 

For God, balancing justice and mercy is simplicity itself, since He is perfectly simple.  Knowing all things which ever were, are or will be as well as the complexities of each act’s impact and every other throughout history God has no conflicts in the application of merciful justice or just mercy.  He knows who we are, what we need and deserve far better than we do.  Furthermore, in our regard, God acts with perfect love. 

For man, especially in times of trial, the simultaneous exercise of mercy and justice is very difficult indeed.  Because of the wounds to our will and intellect, our struggle with passions, it is hard for us at times to see what is good and right and true or rein in our emotions even when we do discern things properly.  We often oscillate between being first just and then merciful. Bringing the two streams of mercy and justice together is a tremendous challenge.  We tend to favor our self-interest, and often balk at what is truly the good for others. 

When we encounter a person who can balance justice and mercy together, we are usually impressed by him.  We hold him up as an example of wisdom because he acts more perfectly, more habitually, according to God’s image and likeness.  We are moved by his example because deep inside we know how we ought to be conforming to God’s image in us.  Their example teaches us that it is possible to live according to God’s plan.  The lives of the saints are examples of this.

One way in which we act in harmony with God’s image in us, behaving as the “coheirs” Christ made us to be, authentic Christian consortes, is when we act with compassion. 

In biblical terms compassion (Hebrew racham) is often interchangeable with mercy.  The Latin word compassio (from cvm,“with” + patior, “to suffer/endure”) means to “suffer with” someone.  Our souls are stirred when we witness suffering and then compassion.  They reveal in a mysterious way who we are as human beings and how we ought to act.  In a now famous passage from the Council’s Gaudium et spes, we are taught that Christ came into the world to reveal man more fully to himself (GS 22).  Christ did this in His every word and deed during His earthly life.  His supreme moment of revelation about who we are was His Passion and death on the Cross.  When we imitate His Passion, in sacrificial love, in genuine “with suffering”, we act as we were made by God to act.   In concrete acts of compassion we, in our own turn, also reveal man more fully to himself!  In our own way we show God’s image to our neighbor and he is moved.  We cannot not be moved unless we are stony and cold and dead.  Pope John Paul II wrote that

“Man cannot live without love […] his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own.” (Redemptor hominis 10).

We must experience love, both in giving and receiving.  When the Enemy planted in the minds of Adam and Eve the doubt that God really loved them, when the certitude of love given and received died, we all died.  The Second Adam offers to bring us back into the certitude of God’s love, through mercy and suffering not only with us, but for us. 

Love, given and received, brings us back to life.

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9 Responses to WDTPRS: 10th Sunday after Pentecost

  1. Mitch says:

    Sometimes I am just overwhelmed by all the translation corrections, modifications and options that I an not see straight. I have come to the general consensus that it is just easier to stick with the Latin and go forward with that. All the time, energy, and efforts that must be wasted by this has to be enormous. Not to say translation did not need to be done, but how many times? It was thought that by 1962 that Missal was almost perfect…I have come to agree with this.. Sometimes to avoid this ambiguous debate, because often I do not know what I should be saying and what I am saying I just pray the Latin side of the Missal. It is always clear as Father Z points out to us that the older forms of prayer were simply more Catholic and more reverant. Case after case. And for all who may think I am an avid fan of Latin and must be versed in it, wrong, I am learning now, at 39. It is tedious but well worth it. That is how I interpret active participation as requested by the Council Fathers. The flip flopping back and forth has taken its’ toll on security in the words of the vernacular over the years. This has been my solution. Not understanding every line and word has allowed the mystery to remain present during Mass and I am always happy when I learn something new or discover something I did not know before..Imagine my surprise when I learned what Et Cum Spiritu Tuo really meant… I had said it incorrectly for years…That small line in the vast liturgy said correctly gave me more peace. Now I repeat it in Latin at every Mass whether EF or OF…I encourage everyone to get a 1962 Missal and read the English Translations, even if you do not attend an EF..They are just beautiful, and compare them to the re-translated versions.

  2. Mitch: It is always clear as Father Z points out to us that the older forms of prayer were simply more Catholic and more reverant.

    No. I don’t think that is what I have been pointing out for the last 8 years of writing the WDTPRS articles.

    The newer prayers, in Latin, are not “less reverent”.

    Also, there are times when the changes to the prayers for the Novus Ordo were actually restorations of even more ancient forms of the prayer. Sometimes the changes were improvements.

    So, I don’t think what you said is quite fair.

  3. Thomas says:

    It is a nice little coincidence that this year, this prayer fits nicely with the ideas of the reading from Wisdom in the Ordinary Form.

  4. Petrus says:

    A propos of Thomas’s comment — The Sarum Missal in my 1868 version gives the Collect (Trinity 11) thus — “O God who declarest Thy almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: mercifully grant unto us Thy grace; that we, running the way of Thy promises, may be partakers of thy heavenly treasure. Through.” The Epistle is 1 Cor 15:1-10 (God’s grace and mercy shown to St Paul in choosing him to be an apostle), the Gospel is Lk 18:9-14 (Our Lord’s parable of the Pharisee and the Publican: ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’), and the Post-Communion is “We beseech Thee, O Lord our God: that in Thy mercy; Thou wouldest never leave those destitute of Thy aid whom thou ceasest not to restore by Divine Sacraments. Through.” A real “Mercy Sunday”!

  5. Ioannes Andreades says:

    I really fail to understand why they would bother touching any part of the prayer. What every happened to no change should be made to the liturgy unless the good of souls certainly requires it? Clearly, the editors were pathologically unable not to tamper with the liturgy.

    Am struck by the verb currere. It really is almost like children running toward a promised gift. Thank goodness currentes survived the scizzors!

  6. Coletta says:

    “One of the ways God manifests His almighty nature is by being forgiving and sparing. God is the creator and ruler, guide and governor of all that is seen and unseen, who keeps everything in existence by an act of His will, and reveals His omnipotence especially (maxime in our Collect) by means of mercy.”

    “His supreme moment of revelation about who we are was His Passion and death on the Cross.”

    “When the Enemy planted in the minds of Adam and Eve the doubt that God really loved them, when the certitude of love given and received died, we all died. The Second Adam offers to bring us back into the certitude of God’s love, through mercy and suffering not only with us, but for us.Love, given and received, brings us back to life.”

    Father, this is beautiful. St. Faustina said God’s greatest attribute is His Mercy.
    Yes, God is compassionate to us as He suffers for us and with us.

    How can we best compassionate God in return?

    1John 4:9-11

    By this hath the charity of God appeared towards us, because God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by him. In this is charity: not as though we had loved God, but because he hath first loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins. My dearest, if God hath so loved us; we also ought to love one another.

  7. Mitchell says:

    I stand corrected and offer my apology for what I stated previously. I have not followed the blog for the last 8 years and should have stated that in “some instances” changes were unnecessay. I was thinking of the English translations and not the official Latin, where indeed some words and their meanings were lost in translation. Regardless if I have been unfair I am sorry and will refrain from posting any comment that quotes a position held by someone else. Thank you for pointing it out to me. God Bless

  8. Sam Schmitt says:

    “Help us to hurry”??

    What the heck is that supposed to mean?

  9. Mitchell: No need to be so reticent.