We continue our project of looking at the Post communions of Lent:
Wednesday – 1st Week of Lent
This prayer was in the Liber Sacramentorum Romanae Ecclesiae on the anniversary of a bishop’s consecration. It is in various manuscripts, such as the Liber Sac. Augustodunensis, Englolismensis and Gellonensis.
Deus, qui nos sacramentis tuis pascere non desistis,
tribue, ut eorum indulta refectio
vitam, quaesumus, conferat sempiternam.
I don’t think this is anywhere in the 1962MR.
It strikes me that in the first line we have a reference to Ps 23(22):1: Dominus pascit me nihil mihi deerit.
Reficio gives us the word (known to all clerics) "refectory", which is the dining area of an ecclesiastical college, monastery or seminary. It means "to make again, make anew, put in condition again; to remake, restore, renew, rebuild, repair, refit, recruit". Therefore, it means "to make strong again, to restore, reinvigorate, refresh". So, a refectory is a place where you are restored and made strong again for your work through the food you eat there. The Latin word for this place is a refectorium from refectio, "refreshment". Refectio is the word used in the Vulgate in Mark 14:14 translating the Greek kataluma for the Paschal meal that Christ will eat in the cenaculum, a kind of refectory where cena is eaten, "supper". Reficio, then, calls to the alert mind a theme of the Eucharistic meal just consumed moments before.
Indultum is from indulgeo an "to be courteous or complaisant; to be kind, tender, indulgent to; to be pleased with or inclined to, to give one’s self up to, yield to, indulge in a thing (as joy or grief); to concede, grant, allow". Therefore it is "to concede, allow, grant, permit, give, bestow as a favor, confer".
Pascere is "to cause to eat, to feed, pasture".
O God, who do not cease to feed us by Your sacraments,
grant, that their permitted refreshment
may, we implore, confer eternal life.
O God, who cease not to nourish us by Your sacramental mysteries,
grant, that their restorative effects they bestow,
may, we beseech You, confer upon us life eternal.
St. Ambrose of Milan (+397) says in his De sacramentis 5.4): "You see how brief the prayer is, and how full of all virtues. Of what great charm in the first sentence!"
When you work through this again, you are struck be the strong theme of "concession". We beseech that God will grant that things bestowed by His indulgence will confer their effects.
I think you all know Ps 23, numbered in ancient times as 22, perhaps by heart. It may be that there is an echo in this prayer, as I mention about.
Ambrose says about this psalm (sac. 5.3):
So you have come to the altar; you have received the Body of Christ. Hear again what sacraments you have obtained; hear holy David as he speaks. And he in spirit foresaw these mysteries and rejoiced and said that nothing was lacking to him. why? Because he who shall receive the Body of Christ shall never thirst. He often have you heard Psalm 22 and have not understood it! See how it is applicable to the heavenly sacraments. "The Lord feeds me and I shall want nothing; He hath set me in a place of pasture; He hath brought me upon the water of refreshment; He hath converted my soul. He hath led me on the paths of of justice for His own name’s sake. For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. They rod and thy staff, they have comforted me". Thy rod is power, the staff is suffering, that is, the eternal divinity of Christ, but also corporeal suffering; the one created, the other redeemed. "Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me. Thou hast anointed my head with oil; and my chalice which inebriateth me how goodly it is!"
You have come, then, to the altar; you have received the grace of Christ; you have obtained the heavenly sacraments. The Church rejoices in the redemption of many and is glad with spiritual exultation that the members of many, and is glad with the spiritual exultation that the members of household are at hand dressed in white. You have this in the Canticle of Canticles. Rejoicing, she invokes Christ, having prepared a banquet, which seems worthy of heavenly feasting.