WDTPRS: Post Communion – Thursday – 1st Week of Advent

We continue our march through the prayers of Holy Mass in different seasons, now the season of Advent.

We are looking now at the Post Communions in the Novus Ordo.

The context of the Post Communion in the Mass is similar to those of the Collect and Super Oblata.

In each case there is outward activity with movement (processions at the entrance procession, offertory and Communion). 

In each case, and originally only at these three points, a choir sang a psalm with an antiphon. 

In each case the priest has silent introductory prayers (his prayers before the altar, his preparation at the offertory, and his devotional prayers during the ablutions after Communion). 

The theme of the prayer refers to the Holy Communion just consumed moments before and to its effects and benefits in us. 

It focuses on the Communion of all the faithful who received, not just that of the priest.

Today’s “Prayer after Communion” is of new composition for the Novus Ordo (1970MR, 1975MR and now 2002MR), but it is rooted in two prayers in the ancient Veronese Sacramentary.  It is the same as the Post Communion for the 1st Sunday of Advent in the 2002MR.

POST COMMUNIONEM (2002MR):
Prosint nobis, quaesumus, Domine, frequentata mysteria,
quibus nos, inter praetereuntia ambulantes,
iam nunc instituis amare caelestia et inhaerere mansuris
.

This is a wonderful prayer to sing, which is as it should be.  The alliteration of frequentata mysteria gives it a powerful staccato balanced by the assonance of “ah” and “a” sounds.   The phrase inter praetereuntia ambulantes is glorious, as is the final cadence, inhaerere mansuris.   There may be a touch of Col. 3:1-2 here.

Over thirty years ago, the bishops of various conferences in the English speaking world took the advice of the old incarnation of ICEL and caused the following to be printed and, sadly, used in our churches to the present day.

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
Father,
may our communion
teach us to love heaven.
May its promise and hope guide our way on earth
.

Is this what the prayer really says?  When the English is shorter than the Latin, friends, you know there’s trouble.  The lame-duck ICEL prayers of the sacral cycles of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter are generally more accurate than those of Ordinary Time.  Nevertheless, this is so bad I was tempted to triple check that I got the right prayer.

The Dictionary, the mighty Lewis & Short, helps us to understand that prosint is the third person plural present active subjunctive form of prosum, profui, prodesse, “to be useful or of use, to do good, benefit, profit”.  There is a custom in Roman sacristies after Mass.  Servers and sacred ministers line up in two rows and wait for the celebrant to enter and bow to the Cross.  As he removes his biretta and bows to the Lord, they all say “Prosit!”, that is, “May what you have just done be of benefit for you!”  The celebrant responds “Vobis quoque!” (singular “Tibi quoque!”), “And to you!”.  

This is about the only time Catholics accurately say something like, “And also with you!”

Frequento is “to visit or resort to frequently, to frequent; to do or make use of frequently, to repeat” and also “to celebrate or keep in great numbers” as in the observance of public festivals.  Praetereuntia, the present active participle of praeter-eo, “to go by or past, to pass by; “to be lost, disregarded, perish, pass away, pass without attention or fulfillment (late Lat.)”  Mansuris is a plural future participle of maneo, “to remain, last, endure, continue”, and thus means “things that are going to endure”.

SLAVISHLY LITERAL TRANSLATION:
We beg You, O Lord, may they be profitable for us,
these oft celebrated sacramental mysteries,
by which You established that we,
walking amidst the things that are passing away,
would now in this very moment love heavenly things
and cleave to the things that will endure
.

A SMOOTHER VERSION:
May these mysteries we so often celebrate
redound to our benefit, O Lord, we entreat You,
since by them You instruct us,
as we journey in the midst of this world which is passing away,
to love the things of heaven and cling to what endures.

When the priest intones this Post Communion, the Eucharistic Christ is within you.  

A church’s tabernacle is no more a dwelling of the Real Presence than you are at that moment.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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14 Responses to WDTPRS: Post Communion – Thursday – 1st Week of Advent

  1. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Wow! The ICEL translation of unbelievably horrific.

    The participle “frequentata” can allude to several different meanings. The one that came to mind first (before reading Fr. Z’s) could be translated as “may the celebration of the mysteries profit us…” (cf. 337.6 http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/bennett.html#sect337). In other words, “frequentata mysteria” may be equivalent to “frequentatio mysteriorum” or, as Fr. Z. has, “mysteria quae frequentata sunt”. The elusiveness of such participles makes them very hard to settle on one translation.

  2. JosephMary says:

    How I wish we all had access to these beautiful prayers. Father, I would like to nominate you to being in charge of making this happen!!! Well, okay, God is in charge. Let us never cease praying to have the beauty of our prayers returned to us.

  3. Steve Girone says:

    Father Z, after serving at our weekly the TLM, the Priest comes in and says “Pro Sit”, and the servers reply
    “Omnibus et singulis.” Can you comment on the difference between this and what you describe in your post?

  4. Steve: It’s prosit, one word, as I explained above and that variant response merely means “to all and sundry”.

    This is just a custom and it will have variations.

  5. mrteachersir says:

    I like the slavishly literal version a bit better than the smoother version. It might be a bear to say at first, and I had to read it twice, but I think it more powerful.

    My 2 cents.

    Either way, the ICEL paraphrase just doesn’t cut it!

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Z: It was good to read the Latin and your slavishly literal transformation at Mass this morning instead of listening to the lame (duck) ICEL verson.

    As usual at daily Mass, I had with me (tucked in my Novus Ordo prayer book) a little sheet with your literal translations of the collect, prayer over the gifts, and post communion for the preceding Sunday.

    Using your Sunday Mass translations to illuminate my whole liturgical week has been of ineffable value to me these past few years.

    In case anyone else would like to try this — at least until newly translated hand missals are available — all of Father Z’s slavishly literal translations, side by side with the original Latin, are posted by Sunday in conveniently usable form at

    http://www.knoxlatinmass.net/wdtprs/

  7. So this is the origin of the toast “Prosit” and/or “Prost”?

    Sweet! It’s like saying grace!

  8. q7swallows says:

    Sorry, Father, but of all of them, I prefer the slavish translation best because of its clarity of thought upon first this thing and then that–all in turns.  And I really relish the strong, absolutely loaded “cleave”–with all its Biblical connotations–in this context.

    And your closing line . . . finished me off . . . again. 

  9. chironomo says:

    Suburbanbanbanshee….

    the German would be “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit” (A toast to the Good Life), although it’s idiomatic rather than a translation. I would love to know what it actually means literally in German (I know this phrase well from my years as a German band Tuba player at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg VA!)

  10. Henry Edwards says:

    q7swallows: I’m with you on both the slavish translation and “cleave” (one of my favorite English words).

    I have both the familiar 1962 missals. The one whose general feel and propers typography I prefer says “adhere to Thy commandments” in the second of the priest’s three prayers before Holy Communion. The other says “cleave to Thy commandments”, and (partly for this reason) it’s the one I carry to TLM each Sunday.

  11. So… some of you are finding my slavishly literal version to be better than the smoother version? 

    How is that possible?

    I thought slavishly literal was baaad, because it is tooo haaard and you are all too stooopid to understand looong sentences with lots of words.

  12. onesheep says:

    Although I’m too stupid to understand, I also appreciate your verion, Fr. Z. I miss the Latin Mass I learned as a child, it meant far more to me than the way Mass is celebrated now. Fortunately for me, the Norbertine priests celebrate Latin Mass every Sunday at the Mission near me, something I never thought to see in such a liberal Diocese but we are blessed. I hope to see it in more of the parishes in my area.

    Thank you for posting this, Fr.

  13. onesheep says:

    Apparently we’re too stupid to realize we’re too stupid. Literal is by far the better version.

  14. Robert_H says:

    I too, prefer the slavishly literal version, except to my ears things sounds overly repetitive.