WDTPRS – Sunday in the Octave of Christmas (1962MR)

What is going on in today’s ….

COLLECT - LATIN TEXT (1962MR):
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
dirige actus nostros in beneplacito tuo:
ut in nomine dilecti Filii tui
mereamur bonis operibus abundare.

This Collect survived the surgeons of Bugnini’s Consilium to live on  in the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time in the Novus Ordo calendar.

In the Lewis & Short Latin Dictionary we learn that beneplacitum means “good pleasure, gracious purpose”.  The preposition in using the ablative case indicates a condition, situation or relation rather than a reference to space where or time when something was occurring.  In the Vulgate beneplacitum translates the original Greek eudokia in, e.g., Eph 1:9; 1 Cor 10:5.  Other phrases are used for eudokia too (e.g., bona voluntas in Luke 2:14, the famous “peace on earth to men of good will” or “peace on earth good will toward men”).  Paul wrote eudokia at the beginning of 2 Thessalonians (1:11-12), rendered as voluntas bonitatis in the Vulgate:

oramus semper pro vobis ut dignetur vos vocatione sua Deus et impleat omnem voluntatem bonitatis et opus fidei in virtute ut clarificetur nomen Domini nostri Iesu Christi in vobis et vos in illo secundum gratiam Dei nostri et Domini Iesu Christi… we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfill every good resolve (omnem voluntatem bonitatis) and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (RSV).

We can find connections between 2 Thessalonians and our Collect at several points: mereamur in the Collect with dignetur in Paul (both having to do with meriting or being worth of), beneplacitum with voluntas bonitatis, bona opera with opus fidei (good works flowing from lived faith), nomen Filii with nomen Domini Iesu Christi.   Taken in the sense of “gracious purpose” we can make a connection to Paul’s vocatio too, our “calling” or the purpose for which God placed us on this earth with a part of His plan to fulfill.

Abundo means, “to overflow with any thing, to have an abundance or superabundance of, to abound in.”  If we go back to the idea of the preposition in and the ablative indicating place or location in space, (in beneplacito tuo) we have an image of our good works originating in God and, coming from Him, overflowing out from us. 

Some Protestants are under the false impression that Catholics think we can “earn” our way to heaven by our own good works, as if our good works had their own merit apart from God.

Catholics believe, however, that true good works always have their origin in God, but the works are truly our works as well since we cooperate with God in performing them.  Therefore, having their origin and purpose in God, they merit the reward of God’s promises.  Whenever we find a reference to works in these liturgical prayers, do not forget the Catholic understanding of good works.

LITERAL TRANSLATION:
Almighty eternal God,
direct our actions in your gracious purpose,
so that in the name of Thy beloved Son,
we may merit to abound with good works.

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
All-powerful and ever-living God,
direct your love that is within us,
that our efforts in the name of your Son
may bring mankind to unity and peace.

The lame-duck ICEL version’s “All-powerful and ever-living God” for omnipotens sempiterne Deus is not so bad.  Quite bad, on the other hand, is their “direct your love that is within us”. 

The Latin clearly connects God’s own purpose for us and the actions that flow from that purpose.  In the ICEL version we have a vague term “love”, rather than the indication of God’s eternal plan. 

Perhaps this is a bit picky, but when I hear “we may merit to abound with good works”, I think we are abounding because of God’s action within us through the good works He makes meritorious.  They overflow from us because of His generosity.  In the ICEL version God’s “love” is in us, but this leads to “our efforts”.  Yes, this can be reconciled with a Catholic theology of works, but it just doesn’t sound right. 

Also, I don’t think that “efforts” to “bring mankind to unity and peace” means the same as us “meriting” by God’s grace to “abound with good works”.    

Please understand: I don’t object to praying for unity and peace, but I think we ought to pray the prayer as the Church gave it to us, what the prayer really says. 

When we feed the hungry and console those who mourn, visit the shut-in and imprisoned and pray for the dead, sure we are building “unity and peace”, but that phrase is so vague as to mean very little to someone in the pew. 

The Latin does not say “conatus nostri genus humanum ad unitatem et pacem inducant”. 

Is it possible that the guitar strumming and all those kumbayas of the 1960’s affected the brains of the ICEL translators? 

We could all stand outside the headquarters of the USCCB and sing, “All we are saying, is give Latin a chance!” while swaying back and forth holding our lighters in the air.

In the meantime… give us our new translation!!

 

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20 Responses to WDTPRS – Sunday in the Octave of Christmas (1962MR)

  1. LJM Arrin, theology says:

    Wonderfully needed observations on this Christmas Octave Sunday- follow the words as they were originally inspired by the Holy Spirit, revelation and apostolic tradition rather than the ideas of translators. Subtle changes away from the original words have their detrimental effects as the minds of men stray away easily or fail to arrive at the truth of doctrine. The original words together with a better observance of directions on the whole form and order of actions would better lend itself to an actual appropriation of the meaning of the words of revelation including the meaning of merit. This would be a great benefit. But if we do not have the words or proper direction it seems to be mulled over by many.

  2. Michael says:

    Strange, I thought today was the feast of the Holy Innocents in the Tridentine rite with the Sunday Office and Mass being moved to Tuesday.

  3. Fr. John says:

    Thanks, Fr. John, for the great material on the Holy Family that you published December 2007: it was delightful to prepare the homily with some solid scholarship on the opening collect to draw from.

  4. John R says:

    Michael,

    Before the 1960 calendrical changes (i.e. the 1958 Missal), today would have been the Feast of the Holy Innocents and the Sunday’s propers observed on 30 December as you stated. However, in the 1962 Missal, today is a Second Class Sunday and II Class Sundays always outrank II Class Feasts (unless the Feast is of Our Lord -e.g. Transfiguration). Hence, today we had the Sunday within the Octave w/ Commemoration of the Holy Innocents at the Office of Lauds and at all Low Masses.

  5. Blackfriar says:

    I believe that the following is the proposed new translation of the said Collect:

    Almighty everlasting God,
    direct our actions according to your good pleasure,
    that in the name of your beloved Son
    we may be made rich in good works.
    through our Lord …

  6. Richard says:

    I stumbled across this site months ago and have followed it with interest, even posting a comment on a couple of occasions. I am, however, confused at times: You seem to pick and choose which bishops’ and Vatican decisions you accept as inspired by the Holy Spirit and worthy of your following and practicing. If “Bugnini’s Consilium ” was all wrong in all that it did after Vatican II, were the popes who allowed its changes to be implemented also “wrong”?
    While I agree a lot of beauty was lost with some of the ICEL translations, were not the ICEL and its translation sactioned by the bishops and approved by the Vatican? If so, who gets to pick and chose which ones are inspired by the Holy Spirit and which ones are not?
    Liturgical music is clearly a “hot button issue on this site. No question the Gregorian chant has a singular beauty (and makes great background music for quiet meditation and private prayer.) There are those of us, however, who find the scripturally inspired music of the St. Louis Jesuits bring us closer to God. (Certainly more so than the German hymns that seem to be played like funeral dirges.) Is it really necessary to make ad hominum attacks on the authors of mor modern hymns and those who are inspired by them?

  7. Richard: Yes, I think the Pope Paul VI, especially, and John Paul II were wrong to permit and perpetuate much of what the Consilium did. The fact the the translations were approved does not make them good. Just because they were approved we don’t have to like them or think them to be good for the Church.

    I never suggested that any translation, good or bad, was “inspired by the Holy Spirit”.

    If you like St. Louis Jesuit style music, fine. I think it is inadequate for liturgical use.

  8. Richard,

    Some brief and inadequate answers to your evidently sincere questions:

    You seem to pick and choose which bishops’ and Vatican decisions you accept as inspired by the Holy Spirit and worthy of your following and practicing.

    As loyal Catholics, we ought to follow all properly promulgated decisions of Rome and Magisterium. That does not mean that they all inspired by the Holy Spirit (or even good ones).

    If “Bugnini’s Consilium ” was all wrong in all that it did after Vatican II, were the popes who allowed its changes to be implemented also “wrong”?

    Not all papal decisions are “right”. History demonstrates amply that popes make mistakes (as do we all). In particular, enough time has passed to show that much of what was done by the Church in the years immediately following Vatican II added up to pastoral error of previously unfathomable proportions.

    While I agree a lot of beauty was lost with some of the ICEL translations, were not the ICEL and its translation sanctioned by the bishops and approved by the Vatican?

    This question is too complicated for full discussion here. Briefly, the translations (along with many other liturgical decisions) in that era were carried out by small groups of “experts” whose mandates were not always clear cut, and whose work was not subjected to careful episcopal and Vatican oversight. As Cardinal Ratzinger said somewhere, the bishops lost control of the liturgy, resulting in its “disintegration” (as he put it). In plain terms, the original ICEL translations were not vetted in any process remotely similar to the new translations currently underway.

    If so, who gets to pick and chose which ones are inspired by the Holy Spirit and which ones are not?

    Any particular translation is done by man and not by God. Surely no one should blame the Holy Spirit for all the hack work we see.

    There are those of us, however, who find the scripturally inspired music of the St. Louis Jesuits bring us closer to God.

    That does not mean it is proper for the public liturgy of the Church, whose primary purpose is worship (ACTS — Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, Supplication) rather than the stimulation of our feelings, however laudible.

  9. Richard says:

    I appreciate the responses from Fr. Z and Mr. Edwards. I took the comment about the inspiration of the Holy Spirit from the first comment. I certainly agree that not all papal decisions are good ones – one only has to look at some of the Borgia and other Renaissance era popes to see that they, like we, are only human. Nevertheless, with so much said recently about “cafeteria catholics” it seems to me that, as Mr. Edwards says, “As loyal Catholics, we ought to follow all properly promulgated decisions of Rome and Magisterium”. If discussion about and objection to those decsions is permitted, and, since God gave us brains and the power to use them, I think honest discussion should be permitted, then let us lovingly debate. In that spirit, I would say to Fr Z. and Mr. Edwards that I think some of the more modern liturgical music is quite appropritate and adequate for liturgical use. On this, it appears to me to be a matter of opinion.

  10. Richard: I took the comment about the inspiration of the Holy Spirit from the first comment. I certainly agree that not all papal decisions are good ones – one only has to look at some of the Borgia and other Renaissance era popes to see that they, like we, are only human.

    The problem here is that, despite their personal behavior, the documents they issued were fine.  Their personal lack of holiness didn’t compromise their teaching function.

    In that spirit, I would say to Fr Z. and Mr. Edwards that I think some of the more modern liturgical music is quite appropritate and adequate for liturgical use. On this, it appears to me to be a matter of opinion.

    The Church’s legislation permits a wide range of music.  However, the Church also puts Gregorian chant with polyphony  at the top of the heap.  This, not the contemporary ditties with little or no connection to the Propers of the day, is the Church default position.

  11. Richard: In that spirit, I would say to Fr Z. and Mr. Edwards that I think some of the more modern liturgical music is quite appropritate and adequate for liturgical use. On this, it appears to me to be a matter of opinion.

    You are certainly correct in the sense that quite a range of opinion on liturgical music obviously exists.

    However, it appears to me that the restoration of sacred music is a hallmark of Pope Benedict’s papacy, and that a number of his writings indicate that his opinion as to what music is appropriate for liturgical use is as restrictive as any commonly expressed here. Indeed, his views on this seem to me to be about the same as those of Pope Pius X a century ago.

    That does not immediately imply that he is right and you are wrong. But his opinion as our pope may mean more to many than anyone’s who disagrees with him.

  12. Richard says:

    But what makes Benedict XVI more right than Paul VI?

  13. Richard: The merits of their reasons and arguments… or rather the merits of the things they approve.

  14. Richard says:

    But what if/when you and I disagree on the merits of the things they approve? (I realize I am not an ordained member of the clergy but obviously, there are disagreements among the ordained.)Who decides?

  15. Richard: This is going in circles.

    As far as things like liturgical translations are concerned, you can place the prayers side by side and make the judgment.

    In the case of liturgical music, you can determine of the music being used adheres to the Church’s request regarding sacred music or not.

    In the case of the liturgical reforms, you can do what Paul VI did not have the opportunity to do: look at the fruits.

    Etc.

  16. Richard: But what makes Benedict XVI more right than Paul VI?

    As a matter of fact, Paul VI’s views on liturgical music were much the same as Benedict XVI’s, and he decried what was happening to the music of the Church on his watch and, in particular, the disappearance of the Gregorian chant that Vatican II for. (In order to contribute to this august blog, there’s no substitute for being informed about the subject at hand.)

    In 1974, Pope Paul VI sent to every bishop in the world a copy of the booklet “Jubilate Deo” that contained several (Latin) Gregorian chant settings of the Ordinary of the Mass designed for congregational use–including the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster, and Agnus Dei–as well as the standard Marian antiphons, the Te Deum and the Magnificat, and the traditional Latin hymns including O salutaris, Tantum ergo, Veni Creator, etc. From the accompanying letter to “Letter to the Bishops on the Minimum Repertoire of Plainchant”:

    This minimum repertoire of Gregorian chant has been prepared with that purpose in mind: to make it easier for Christians to achieve unity and spiritual harmony with their brothers and with the living traditions of the past. Hence it is that those who are trying to improve the quality of congregational singing cannot refuse to Gregorian chant the place which is due to it.

    In presenting the Holy Father’s gift to you, may I at the same time remind you of the desire which he has often expressed that the Conciliar constitution on the liturgy be increasingly better implemented. Would you therefore, in collaboration with the competent diocesan and national agencies for the liturgy, sacred music and catechetics, decide on the best ways of teaching the faithful the Latin chants of and of having them sing them, and also of promoting the preservation and execution of Gregorian chant in the communities mentioned above. You will thus be performing a new service for the Church in the domain of liturgical renewal.

  17. TNCath says:

    Regarding implementation of Jubilate Deo, time was not on Paul VI’s side, nor were the members of the Bugnini Revolution nor, quite frankly, bishops conferences all of whom by an large ignored the Pope’s expressed wishes. I believe that Paul VI gets a very bad rap for the state of affairs after Vatican II. He saw what was happening (the “Smoke of Satan” reference) and, for various reasons (control of the Church by key curial officials, his age, his health, and even perhaps fear and trepidation), was unable to combat it. John Paul II was able to pick up where Paul left off and begin to rebuild the Church. He may have made mistakes (all Popes do) in certain areas, but no one can say the Church wasn’t stronger after his reign. Benedict is now picking up where John Paul left off and has made great strides in just three years. Brick by brick, year by year, things are changing for the better. Deo gratias! I daresay Paul VI would be a much happier with the state of affairs in the Church today than he was in 1974.

  18. Mitchell says:

    I never could understand how virtually overnight, weekly or monthly changes occured during Paul VI reign and when seeking the restoration of all that is sacred and was perhaps in haste “lost” it is said it will take generations, or centuries…How could Pope Paul VI have such sweeping power and yet Pope Benedict XVI is said to be limited by the Curia and Roman Buerocracy..Isn’t there in fact less Buerocracy now After Paul VI’s simplifications??? How does one Pope have such power to undue and another not the power to undue the undone? And if the Pope has no “real” power to mandate change and demand obedience maybe he should have..A little more Buerocracy may just be what the Church needs..
    And Father, Thank you for the comparative translations…Putting them side by side helps to see how many are indeed “lame ducks”…I always look forward to them and maybe it is the nuance or formality of the English but it just attracts me..The message is much more clear in the literal translations even if not approved for use….One thing about banality is that nothing is crystal clear, it is all just gray….It is almost like an alcoholic when they speak with slurred speach…..No one pays attention or can understand….As for the Papal commentary, anyone who knows a good book referencing the Papal power and authority I would appreciate the read..

  19. Mitchell: I never could understand how virtually overnight, weekly or monthly changes occurred during Paul VI reign and when seeking the restoration of all that is sacred and was perhaps in haste “lost” it is said it will take generations, or centuries

    Having been around in the 1960s when the tragedy occurred, I’m old enough that I certainly hope the restoration of the Church won’t take generations and centuries; I don’t have that kind of time. However there’s something to the remark that it takes a lot longer to put the tooth paste back into the tube than it took to get it out.

    How could Pope Paul VI have such sweeping power and yet Pope Benedict XVI is said to be limited by the Curia and Roman Buerocracy

    Particularly with conditions having changed as they have. Prior to Paul VI, popes really did have a lot of power to “mandate change and demand obedience”, though perhaps even then it wasn’t absolute as some may think.

    But the particular changes that Paul VI mandated had the result of dissipating the very power that he used in doing so.

    It’s a simple fact that, whereas Paul VI had the power to make wholesale changes in the liturgy — even though many heavyweights, perhaps including Benedict XVI, doubt that he had proper authority to do so — Benedict XVI clearly does not have that same power.

    For instance, even if it were a good idea to declare the Novus Ordo experiment at an end forth with — as in one of my favorite fantasies

    http://www.christianorder.com/features/features_2004/features_feb04.html

    he could not enforce this by simply promulgating it, as Paul VI effectively declared a practical end of a 1500-year old liturgy simply by promulgating its replacement. I wonder whether, on balance, we should not be thankful that such power no longer exists.

  20. Mitch says:

    Thank you Mr. Edwards…The link is great and for a moment when reading it I almost pictured it being the New York Times…And then I thought, at first screams and outrage, then calm and acceptance……