We continue a look at Advent Post Communions in the 2002MR.
This prayer, also the Post Communion of the 3rd Sunday of Advent, 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.
Tuam, Domine, clementiam imploramus,
ut haec divina subsidia, a vitiis expiatos,
ad festa ventura nos praeparent.
Our handy Lewis & Short Dictionary reminds us that imploro is a high test word. It is a compound of ploro which is "to cry out, to cry aloud … to weep over any thing, to lament, bewail". Imploro is more intense yet: "to invoke with tears, call to one’s assistance, call upon for aid; to invoke, beseech, entreat, implore".
The verb subsideo gives us the substantive subsidium originally meaning, “the troops stationed in reserve in the third line of battle (behind the principes), the line of reserve, reserve-ranks, triarii.” By extension it also means “support, assistance, aid, help, protection.” We find this word with some frequency in orations during Lent, which suggest to me that the word is associated with a time of fasting and penance.
SLAVISHLY LITERAL VERSION: …
No… wait… let’s see what the lame-duck ICEL version will inflict on people first:
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. Still, here we find a use of “help” which surprisingly reflects the Latin and doesn’t make us sound like Pelagians!
SLAVISHLY LITERAL TRANSLATION JUST TO ANNOY LIBERALS:
We implore Your mercy, O Lord,
that these divine supports may prepare us,
purified from our faults, for the coming feast days.
I love the fact that in the Latin original we beginning with Tuam… YOUR.… We would have to say "Your mercy we implore, O Lord…".
Keep in mind the context of this prayer.
This is Advent, which is a somewhat 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 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: “… 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.